John Major’s former press secretary Jonathan Haslam has become
director of information at the Department for Education and Employment
in a civil service reshuffle following the general election.
Haslam’s switch from Number 10 to the DFEE was announced last Friday,
just hours after Labour’s landslide victory at the polls. He succeeds
Jim Coe who signalled his intention in July to retire from the
Government Information Service after 28 years.
At the DFEE Haslam heads up a team of 100 staff with responsibility for
publicity, media relations, publications and advertising. He wields a
budget of around pounds 20 million, of which pounds 12 million is
earmarked for publicity.
Haslam became Major’s press secretary in January 1996 after Christopher
Meyer left to become British ambassador to Germany. He was previously
head of information at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
and deputy press secretary to the Prime Minister under Meyer and Gus
O’Donnell before that.
Liaising closely with Secretary of State David Blunkett, Haslam will
have to tackle communications for a daunting array of policy
These include plans to phase out the assisted places scheme, cut class
sizes and scrap nursery school vouchers. The government is also
examining proposals to use a windfall tax on utilities to finance a job
Haslam’s room for manoeuvre will, however, be limited by the new
Government’s tighter grip on communications. Tony Blair’s press
secretary Alastair Campbell has written to the heads of information in
all departments telling them that requests for interviews with ministers
must be cleared through Number 10. Policy presentation will be
co-ordinated through Peter Mandelson at the Cabinet Office.
Haslam will also work with David Blunkett’s personal spokesman Conor
Ryan, who has become one of two special advisers within the DFEE.