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You remember Alan Howarth. The new man at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who'll take on the job from where Mark Fisher left off, is the Tory who 'crossed the floor' in 1995, thereby hastening John Major's exit from Number 10.

Now Tony Blair's second-tier team shake-up has meant that Howarth (a cbe) gets his 'reward' - swapping his education and employment brief for a sideways move to the arts and, within that, architecture. He'll also take on listings, arts, crafts, museums and galleries, libraries, the built heritage, education and design, along with - as Tony Banks is forced to concentrate on sport - the lottery, social policy and 'environment' issues.

Like Fisher, Howarth was born in 1944 and was educated at Cambridge University. Unlike him, he attended Rugby School, not Eton, and has not published as widely on matters architectural. Whereas Fisher was the author of City Centres, City Cultures in 1988, A New London in 1992, and the editor of Whose Cities in 1991, Howarth's word processor has been whirring to a different tune: he was joint author of Changing Charity (should help with advising the riba on its library fundraising), Montgomery at Close Quarters in 1986, and Save Our Schools in the same year (perhaps he'll intervene at Pimlico). At least in 1987 he wrote The Arts: The Next Move Forward, has served his time on the former National Heritage select committee in 1992-3, and adds 'books' and 'arts' to his 'running' interests.

Howarth began his political career as the member for Stratford-on-Avon. He was pps to Sir Rhodes Boyson in 1985 before becoming the parliamentary under-secretary of state for education and science from 1989-92. Then he resigned loudly from the Conservatives and, in a move which mirrored a larger swing, joined the Labour party. He has been the member for Newport East in Wales since May last year.

He's a member of the gmb union but a member of Lloyd's at the same time. He has two sons and two daughters, his marriage 'dissolved' in 1996, and he is the former assistant master at Westminster School, former treasurer of the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group and a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

So there he is, a political turn-coat with a history in (private) education, an interest in the military life and passions for arts, books and running. And he's based in Wales. Perfect.

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