Haslam takes up PR hot seat at the DFEE

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.

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

initiatives.



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

training programme.



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.



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