Tony Blair’s memo urging eye-catching measures with which “I, personally, should be associated” captured the flavour of New Labour. It lived on in David Cameron’s Downing Street grid and programme of announcements.
Theresa May and her team will doubtless find their own way of organising Government activity, but the start of her first full week as Prime Minister suggests that the spirit of the Blair era has finally come to an end.
For just as last week’s sacking of George Osborne and Michael Gove, together with the demotion or dismissal of the former Chancellor’s lieutenants, marks a break with what came before, so does the beginning of this one.
Today the Commons votes on Trident renewal. Today, the new Prime Minister plans to visit Wales. A trip to Northern Ireland will follow later. May wants to draw both, with Scotland, into her Brexit plans – and find out how the land lies.
On Wednesday, she faces her first PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to cause her any serious problems, but the same may not be true of the session as a whole.
David Cameron and Osborne are PMQs veterans: indeed, Cameron was part of the team that prepared John Major for them the best part of 25 years ago.
The new Prime Minister, by contrast, is used to the relatively narrow field of Home Office Questions. She will have to build a new team to advise her on PMQs from scratch. She may find herself wondering how on earth preparation for half an hour can consume so much time.
And amidst the run-up to all this, there is no blizzard of policy announcements, no shock-and-awe offensive of eye-catching initiatives. The sweeping changes to the Government’s structure and personnel find no policy parallel yet.
May clearly wants a more understated, less media-focused, more show-not-tell style of government. Cynics claim that Gordon Brown attempted the same and rapidly came unstuck. But it is the right course to take and is rather cheering to see.