One of the most novel of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's junior Ministerial appointments is that of Admiral Sir Alan West GCB DSC as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office.
According to the Home Office website:
Sir Alan West
Sir Alan West, the former first Sea Lord, has been named as the new Home Office minister for security, counter-terrorism and police.
Sir Alan has had a distinguished naval and governmental career stretching back decades.
Awarded the distinguished service cross for his work commanding the frigate HMS Ardent in the Falkland Islands conflict, he later held several naval appointments and played prominent roles in the re-organisation of the Ministry of Defence.
He was appointed First Sealord and Chief of the Naval Staff in September 2002, and he was made a knight grand cross, Order of the Bath, in 2004, and served as first sea lord until 2006, when he became chancellor of Southampton Solent University.
Sir Alan will have to be created a Peer of the Realm, something which he might have expected anyway, in order to be a Minister.
However, it is unclear if he will be forced to join the Labour Party, or if he will be exempt from this like Sir Digby Jones, the former head of the Confederation of British Industry ?
Is it right that a former senior military officer should be appointed as an unelected Government Minister, by a Prime Minister who has not been elected into that role by the general public, just like in so many tin pot dictatorships around the world ?
What does this mean for Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty, Minister of State for Security, Counter-terrorism and Policing ?
Only a year ago he was Minister of State for Policing, Security and Community Safety, having swapped roles with Liam Byrne, who took over as Immigration Minister, in charge of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which the then Home Secretary John Reid described as "not fit for purpose", whilst under Tont McNulty's command. McNulty has now seen the Community Safety part of his brief ooze over to what was Ruth Kelly's "Communities" empire, which has now , surprise, surprise, been taken over by Hazel Blears, who used to be Minister of State for Policing, Security and Community Safety only 14 months ago.
Blears has been more prominent on the TV news than the new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, when spinning the Government line regarding the failed terrorist attacks in central London and Glasgow airport.
The whole Prisons and Probation empire has been shifted over to the Ministry of Justice, less than 2 months ago, another area of responsibility which he used to be nominally in charge of.
Presumably Tony McNulty and his junior Undersecretary of State Vernon Coaker will continue with giving out Crime Statistics and meddling with Police bureaucracy for a while (despite the recommendations that the Home Office should hand over the publication of Crime Statistics to say, the National Audit Office, as they cannot be trusted not to spin them politically).
Will John Reid and Tony Blair's fiddling with the Home Office and Intelligence Machinery in their last months in power shape the current anti-terrorism and national security systems, or are they all going to be re-organised yet again, under Gordon Brown ?