Monday, 2 July 2007

Jacqui Smith's baptism of fire

I have never understood why Jacqui Smith went unnoticed in the government for quite so long. I first worked with her when she joined the Department for Education and Skills in 1999 as a junior schools minister. Her ability was outstanding then, and her stature grew with a series of second-tier ministerial posts in Labour's second term. Jacqui's real breakthrough only came thanks to the rebellion on Tony Blair's school reforms, when her calm good sense and can-do attitude was seen by many of my number 10 colleagues. She was promoted to the Cabinet as chief whip. Her appointment as Home Secretary last week was the best bit of Gordon Brown's reshuffle, and she has certainly had the mother of all inductions to contend with. But as her interview on the Today programme this morning demonstrated, she is the right person for these troubled times.

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