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Des Browne

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Des 'nae job' Browne

The Serious Bit

Des Browne was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury in May 2005. A year later he became Defence Secretary in succession to John Reid.

He was previously Minister of State for Citizenship and Immigration at the Home Office.

Mr Browne has also been Minister of State for Work at the Department for Work and Pensions and also held the position of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at The Northern Ireland Office.

Mr Browne has been MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun since 1997 and was previously Parliamentary Private Secretary to the late Donald Dewar MP 1998-1999 and more recently to Adam Ingram MP.

He is a former member of Select Committees on Northern Ireland 1997-1998 and Public Administration 1999 and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights 2001.

Mr Browne also tabled the Register of Drug Trafficking Offenders Bill, a private Member's Bill to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to establish a register of trafficking offenders.

Mr Browne was born on 22 March 1952 and studied at Glasgow University where he was awarded an LLB. He is married and has two sons. Before entering Parliament he was a lawyer, he was admitted as a solicitor in 1976 and was subsequently called to the Scottish Bar in 1993.

Not so serious

The promotion of John Reid paved the way for a much safer pair of hands in Des Browne. A close chum of Gordon Brown's, he can be trusted to quietly shelve any pointed questions about spending reviews and more money for any number of procurement initiatives.

However, his arrival at MoD has been quietly welcomed by various high-ranking officers, who have revealed that our Des is a lot happier to allow them to voice disagreement than John Reid ever was. It remains to be seen how long this wind of change will blow through the ivory corridors in London...

Generally referred to as Swiss Toni because of his physical resemblance to the eponymous TV character. Unfortunately not nearly as funny, particularly when offering condolences to the families and friends of service personnel killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Oddly enough, despite what must be fairly detailed briefing, he almost always seems to get the names of their regiments wrong. Possibly this is because, under the New Labour government, they seem to change every ten minutes.

Supposedly popular amongst service personnel (according to New Labour), Browne is generally regarded as something of a mong and seriously got into the shit over the Iranian 'tabloid cash for chav hostages' debacle. Calls for his resignation have received swift rebuttals and he's still got his job. No change there then?

Well ... till now! Gordon Brown decided after the Zanu-Labour conference 2008 to re-arrange the lifeboats on the Titanic and sacked our Des. Technically Browne resigned after being offered a new job overseeing both Scotland and Northern Ireland. He wanted full-time defence secretary or nothing. And Gordy hates to disappoint so he got nothing!

John Hutton, the former Business Secretary, replaces Mr Browne at the Ministry of Defence now that Gordy feels it warrants a full time post. So far we don't have an opinion of Hutton but we will!

Just how mendacious was Des?

Des Browne went to the High Court in an attempt to prevent coroners criticising the Ministry of Defence at military inquests. It seems he doesn't like coroners accusing the MoD of "serious failings" when recording verdicts on military deaths as this could potentially help families if they sued for compensation.

David Masters, the Wiltshire coroner, said coroners would not be "deflected from conducting full, frank and fearless inquiries into deaths they are entrusted to investigate - those of people serving their country when they are killed abroad. If something needs to be said, I'll say it."

Mr Masters ... ARRSE salutes your integrity. Its a pity Des has feck all.