Hugh Henry is to succeed Peter Peacock as education minister, the Scottish Executive has confirmed.Mr McConnell (Motherwell and Wishaw) will now add Mr Henry (Paisley South) to his reliable cabinet allies, Messrs Kerr (East Kilbride), Jamieson (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley), McCabe (Hamilton South), Curran (West of Scotland list) and Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill). I really don't know how Mr Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) has survived so long.
Mr Peacock, 54, resigned on health grounds after receiving medical advice for a condition akin to a mild stroke. He remains a Highlands and Islands MSP.
Mr Henry, who has been deputy justice minister for the past four years, is replaced by Johann Lamont.
Labour MSP Des McNulty gets her job as deputy communities minister, a post he was sacked from three years ago.
The new addition to the Ministerial roster, albeit at sub-cabinet level, Mr McNulty, is of course MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie.
Has the First Minister missed an opportunity to elevate a new fresh face to cabinet? Someone with the imagination to break out of the comfort zone? Looking at the ranks of junior labour ministers, I rather doubt it: Mr McConnell long ago cleared out of the Executive anyone capable of independent thought.