A person of Indian origin could become one of Britain’s most powerful women when Gordon Brown becomes prime minister on Wednesday.
Shriti Vadera, 44, a special advisor to Brown, will hold one of the most influential posts in Brown’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ — a group of unofficial advisors who informally make decisions on government policy. At times, they wield more influence over the PM than the Cabinet itself.
Vadera has been a member of Brown’s Council of Economic Advisors since 1999. She was born in Uganda to Gujarati parents. Her family moved in the 1970s, first to India then to England. She studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, before joining investment bank UBS in 1984.
There, she specialised in debt restructuring for poor African countries and engaged in the privatisation process in South Africa. It was her willingness to drive private-sector solutions to achieve socialist objectives that made Brown pick her as his adviser.
Colleagues describe her as typically New Labour: she loves modern art, champagne and lives in one of London’s most desirable streets.
“She’s really respected,” said Labour MP Ian Gibson. “She’s obviously going to be working inside the government. It’s possible that she’s going to be the most powerful woman in Britain in the future. I expect that Gordon will keep her in his Treasury team.”