I must confess, I was deeply skeptical of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle. However, I am pleasantly surprised by the change of faces on the pitch.
There have been a few Cabinet Reshuffles prior to this week’s which have been heralded as ‘revolutionary’ in the representation of women in government. Yet the ladies promoted always seem to be sat on the bench, and never get a real chance to kick the ball as members of the Cabinet. Up until now, Theresa May was the only one who held a prominent position in the Cabinet. Next to her were Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers, who held the positions of International Development Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary respectively.
Now we have a few fresh faces, with some holding important positions. Nicky Morgan has replaced Michael Gove as Education Secretary. Gove has come under criticism for being a highly controversial figure in the Cabinet, with many disliking his radical education reforms such as free schools, and his spat with Theresa May recently. He will now take the post as Chief Whip, where he will work closely with the press, and keep ministers in check.
Mrs Morgan is a former lawyer, and joined the government in 2012. In 2013, she took the job as a Treasury minister, and despite he promotion, she will continue as the Minister for Women. Another woman to take to the field is Lizz Truss as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
There are another five women who have either been promoted or brought in to Cabinet-related positions as part of the reshuffle. Furthermore, Employment Minister Esther McVey will remain in her position, but will now attend Cabinet meetings.
It is interesting looking at the faces of those leaving the Cabinet. All are male, and a number fit the whole “male, pale and stale” description that is floating around in the media at the moment. Ken Clarke, Owen Paterson, David Jones, Sir George Young and David Willis are just five of the eleven men who are leaving the Cabinet. All are resigning, except for Mr. Jones, who has been “sacked as Welsh Secretary”.
It is great that more women are getting higher profile positions. However, the government still significantly lacks more ethnic minorities. Priti Patel, whose parents immigrated from Uganda, and the first Asian male Conservative Cabinet member Sajiv Javid are the only ones who fit that description. Priti has been brought in as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and Mr Javid remains in his position as Culture Secretary. With a growing Muslim population, it is going to become increasingly important to have more ethnic minorities represented in the UK Cabinet.
It is a good step forward for women, however, in this reshuffle. This is the last one before the final whistle blows next May for the General Election, and Cameron will be hoping he has done enough to win some votes with the new promotions.