One of the most controversial appointments in yesterday's announcements of Gordon Brown's first Government was that of Mark Malloch Brown as a foreign minister with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the United Nations. He is pictured above entering 10 Downing Street with Labour's new Deputy Leader Harriet Harman. Ms Harman has called for the Labour Party to apologise for the Iraq war.
Malloch Brown, now elevated to the House of Lords, was a leading critic of the Iraq war and only one month ago told BBC Radio that Tony Blair had been "blinded" by morality in his Middle East policies.
When he was chief of staff to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan he attacked the United States media and government for allowing “too much unchecked UN bashing and stereotyping”. John Bolton, US Ambassador at the time issued a furious statement to Malloch Brown's then boss, Annan: “I’ve known you since 1989 and I’m telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen in that entire time." The Heritage Foundation issued this response at the time.
A leader in today's Times is strongly critical of the appointment:
"It was a mistake to appoint the ennobled Mark Malloch Brown to serve with him at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This self-promoting former Deputy UN Secretary-General has made some crude public remarks about the US Administration along with the slightly unhinged assertion that the UN’s failure to act decisively on Darfur is partly the fault of the US and UK for invading Iraq. It will be interesting to see what is uncovered by investigations into the UN Development Programme under his tenure."
A number of critics of the Iraq war have returned to Government under Prime Minister Brown. In addition, David Miliband, the new Foreign Secretary and Lord Malloch Brown's new boss, was always sceptical of the Iraq war and was critical of Israel's actions last summer during the Lebanon crisis.
Although the public position of the Brown administration has yet to change the ministerial appoointments suggest a decisive shift away from the worldview of the Blair era.
5pm update: The Spectator's Matthew d'Ancona has written this about the appointment: "What is certainly apparent already is that a few dog whistles on Iraq, particularly the dreadful appointment of Mark Malloch Brown to the FCO, will do nothing to prevent such atrocities. It is psychologically easier to believe that the Islamists hate us because of Iraq, but it is also nonsense. The Birmingham plot of 2000 makes that plain enough, as does the fact that terrorists have been arrested in Canada and France, countries which both opposed the war."
Saturday update: Mark Steyn's reaction