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Cablegate: (U) Brown's Government in Place

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #2534/01 1831601
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021601Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4251
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA IMMEDIATE 0396
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS LONDON 002534

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/UBI, INR/EU, EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV UK
SUBJECT: (U) BROWN'S GOVERNMENT IN PLACE

REF: LONDON 2488

(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Prime Minister Gordon Brown has moved
fast to put his stamp on the UK Government and the results
have been positive for his poll ratings and media coverage.
The latest Guardian/ICM poll gives Labour the lead (39
percent to 35 percent) over the Conservatives, Labour's first
lead since March 2006. Brown has appointed Her Majesty's
Government in full, as well as made some significant
alterations to the organization of several Cabinet
ministries. A complete list of the new sub-cabinet
appointments can be found on the website of the Prime
Minister's Office (www.pm.gov.uk). Notable structural
changes:

- The Deputy Prime Minister's Office, the Department of Trade
and Industry, and the Department for Education and Skills
"cease to exist";

- The Department for Education and Skills has been split
between a new Department for Children, Schools and Families;
and a new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
(both headed by Cabinet Ministers);

- A Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory
Reform, headed by a Cabinet Minister, has been created along
with a Business Council for Britain;

- A junior minister has been appointed for each of nine
regions of England (there were already Cabinet-level posts
for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland); and

- Two Liberal Democrat peers will work with (not in) the
Government in an advisory capacity. END SUMMARY.

(U) THE BROWN BOUNCE
--------------------
2. (U) The Guardian/ICM poll conducted Wednesday evening and
Thursday June 27-28 (i.e., just after Brown became Prime
Minister) and published Saturday, June 30, gives Labour its
first lead over the Conservatives since March 2006, with 39
percent support (up seven points) to the Conservatives' 35
percent (up one point). The Liberal Democrats are down three
points at 18 percent. This is Labour's best showing since
David Cameron became the Tory leader in 2005. If replicated
at a general election, this lead would actually increase
Labour's absolute majority in the House of Commons.

(U) DEPARTMENTAL REORGANIZATION
-------------------------------
3. (SBU) DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a Written Ministerial
Statement to the House of Commons on June 28 regarding the
"Machinery of Government: Departmental Organization." The
Statement explained the rationale for replacing the
Department for Education and Skills with a Department for
Children, Schools and Families and a Department for
Innovation, Universities and Skills: Children and families
"are the bedrock of our society and "the Government's aim is
to ensure that every child gets the best possible start in
life." The reorganized departments "seek to strengthen the
Government's support for children, young people and families"
in light of the "very different challenges that Britain will
face in the years ahead," and "to ensure that Britain is
equipped to seize the new opportunities of the global
economy." The Department for Children, Schools and Families
"for the first time" brings "together key aspects of policy
affecting children and young people" through age 19 and "will
take forward the Government's strategy for ending child
poverty." It will work closely with other departments,
promoting health, sport and young people's contributions to
communities, preventing youth offending (including drug use),
and addressing youth homelessness. Given the emphasis Brown
is placing in his initial public comments on improving UK
education and building skills at an early age, it is not
surprising that Brown picked his closest confidante and
right-hand man, Ed Balls MP, to run this new department.

4. (U) DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS
(DIUS): To compete successfully in the globalized economy,
Brown has articulated a long-term vision of making Britain
"one of the best places in the world for science, research
and innovation, and to deliver the ambition of a world-class
skills base." The new DIUS will assume responsibility (from
what was the Department of Trade and Industry) for science
and innovation, working to expand "high-end graduate skills"
and raise "the skills of the wider adult work force including
those currently unskilled."

5. (U) DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY
REFORM (DBERR): This new department "will assume from the
(abolished) Department of Trade and Industry, policy
responsibility for productivity, business relations, energy,
competition and consumer policy, corporate law, employment
regulation, and working closely with the Department for
Communities and Local Government making sustainable
improvements in the economic performance of all English
regions. The Department will have joint responsibility with
the Department for International Development on trade policy,
and with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on trade
promotion." "A key priority will be its cross-Government
role in promoting better regulation across the business,
public and voluntary sectors." It will "provide support for
the new Business Council" (see below).

6. (U) BUSINESS COUNCIL FOR BRITAIN: This new Council
comprising "senior business leaders from a range of sectors"
will "assist the Government in putting in place the right
strategy to promote the long-term health of the UK economy."
The membership of the Council (also available at the Office
of the Prime Minister's website) includes chief executive
officers from 15 leading UK-based businesses, such as Virgin
Group, Tesco Rolls Royce, British Petroleum, and Vodafone.
It will be chaired by Mervyn Davies of the Standard Chartered
Bank. It will "provide clear, independent advice on the
reform priorities to enable business to compete in the global
economy." It will meet twice a year and report to the
Government and Parliament. The chair will be "a senior
business person." The Prime Minister and Secretaries of
State (i.e., Cabinet members) of the main economic
departments will attend meetings at the invitation of the
Council. "Where issues are particularly important, the
Council will have the power to establish Special Commissions
to make recommendations for reform."

(U) MINISTERS FOR REGIONS OF ENGLAND
------------------------------------
7. (SBU) Perhaps the most politically sensitive feature of
Brown's reorganization is the appointment of
sub-Cabinet-level ministers for England, one each for nine
English regions (Northeast, Northwest, Yorkshire and
Humberside, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England,
London, Southeast, and Southwest). Brown wants to give a
bigger voice to the regions, consistent with his vision of
devolving governmental powers closer to the governed. There
have long been Cabinet-level posts for Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland, but England, which has five times their
combined population, has no equivalent to the devolved
parliaments and Cabinet executives of the three "Celtic
nations"; instead, England is ruled directly by the UK
Parliament ("Westminster") and the UK Government (HMG, a.k.a.
"Whitehall"). In recent years, there have been grumbling
within England that it is being given short shrift, in terms
of voice within the HMG, compared to the other nations within
the UK. When Tony Blair's Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott, however, proposed a pilot regional parliament for
northeastern England several years ago, voters rejected it as
a costly bureaucracy. Brown has yet to flesh out how he
intends to proceed beyond these nine ministers, but he knows
the issue of recognizing English concerns about their lack of
influence compared to their Welsh and Scottish countrymen, is
a sensitive issue, especially for Brown, a Scot representing
a Scottish parliamentary constituency yet running the entire
UK.

(U) "ALL THE TALENTS"
---------------------
8. (SBU) Brown had pledged to form "a Government of all the
talents," and his appointments demonstrated an effort to
reach out beyond traditional Labour figures:

- LIB DEMS: While former Liberal Democrat leader Lord
Ashdown turned down an offer to be Northern Ireland secretary
(and Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell forbade his
party-members from joining the Government), two Liberal
Democrat peers have agreed to serve as advisers: Lord Lester
of Herne Hill QC will "advise the Secretary of State for
Justice on aspects of constitutional reform" and Baroness
Neuberger - a rabbi - "will work with the Prime Minister, the
Government and the voluntary sector to champion
volunteering."

- NEW PEERS: All members of HMG must be members of one or
the other of the Houses of Parliament. Five highly-qualified
individuals from outside politics will receive peerages in
order to join Brown's Government (all in sub-Cabinet
positions):

-- Shriti Vadera, a member of Brown's Council of
Economic Advisers when he was Chancellor, will be a minister
in the Department for International Development. That
Department is clearly being beefed up: It now has three
junior ministers instead of one. Vadera has been a close
advisor to Brown and her appointment to the Department for
International Development reflects Brown's interest in
putting international development -- especially in Africa and
the Middle East -- at the center of his foreign policy.

-- Professor Sir Ara Darzi, a surgeon, will be a
minister in the Department of Health, responsible for patient
care.

-- Admiral Sir Alan West, a former Royal Navy chief,
will be security minister in the Home Office.

-- Sir Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of
British Industry, will be trade minister reporting jointly to
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for
Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

-- Sir Mark Malloch Brown, former Deputy Secretary
General of the United Nations, will be Minister for Africa,
Asia and the UN in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

- OTHER APPOINTMENTS: Joan Ryan MP becomes Special
Representative to Cyprus and a member of the Privy Council.
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens of
Kirkwhelpington, who had been courted by the Conservatives,
will be "the Prime Minister's Senior Adviser on International
Security Issues."

Comment: Press Likes What It Sees Thus Far
--------------------------------------------
9. (SBU) UK media response has on the whole been positive
about Brown's Cabinet appointments and the governmental
restructuring he has initiated. Until this past weekend's
aborted car bomb attacks drove comment about the new Cabinet
off the front pages, initial editorial reaction, even from
papers hostile to Labour, had been favorable, with most
observers agreeing that Brown's cabinet was a mixture of new
talent and "steady hands." The appointment of Jacqui Smith
as Home Secretary sparked some questions about her experience
to take on the high profile job, but her performance in the
days following the bomb attacks has earned her -- thus far --
uniform praise.

10. (SBU) Brown's initial positive press has grown only more
favorable in the immediate aftermath of the car bomb attacks.
Even opposition leaders, such as Liberal Democratic
Spokesperson Nick Clegg, have been praising Brown's initial
response to the terrorist attacks: "I detect a measured
tone, which I think is a good thing and certainly a
significant departure from the somewhat breathless way in
which Tony Blair always used to rush to try to make, frankly,
political points on the back of these events." The Mirror
summed up most press comment: Brown has been "commendably
cool in this crisis, admirably rising to the biggest
challenge of his leadership."

Visit London's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/london/index. cfm
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