While the likes of Blair, Prescott and Brown are household names, many of the key players, for business, in any new Labour administration are much lower profile.
Consumer affairs spokesman Nigel Griffiths, the Edinburgh South MP, will retain his brief in any Blair administration. Some Westminster observers believe his responsibilities will be extended to include control of utility regulators. The shadow trade and industry spokesman Kim Howells holds the competition policy brief. With a majority of almost 20,000 he has one of the safest seats in Parliament and is expected to have a major say in the shape of a future competition Act to which Labour is committed. Alistair Darling will also influence competition policy if, as expected, he becomes chief secretary to the Treasury.
George Howarth has spent two years as front-bench spokesman for home affairs responsible for gambling, licensing and drugs. He wants to stay and is expected to be assured of a place if Jack Straw gets the nod as Home Secretary. Geoff Hoon, one-time MEP and now defending a 13,000 majority as MP for Ashfield, will be handed the delicate role of lifting restrictions on BT, originally designed to protect the fledgling cable companies, so allowing it to supply entertainment services next year.
Jack Cunningham will take the top job at the Department of National Heritage and with it responsibility for the future of lottery operator Camelot, although Peter Mandelson has made no secret of his ambition to become “minister for the opera”.
There is every indication of Labour’s continued involvement in the Industry Forum, which in the past two years has given business direct access to Labour’s front-bench spokesmen.