UK

Esther McVey Defends 'Demeaning' Daily Mail's Cabinet Reshuffle Coverage... Paper's Own Staff Are Appalled

16/07/2014 12:33 BST | Updated 17/07/2014 09:59 BST

Esther McVey has revealed she isn't fussed about the Daily Mail's fashion critique of the new "girls" on the Downing Street "catwalk," even though the paper's own Business Correspondent branded the coverage "unspeakably awful and demeaning."

The tabloid has faced fierce criticism over its "heinously sexist" coverage, in which Catherine Ostler gave her "style verdict" on the new appointments, including McVey.

READ MORE: 'Heinously Sexist' Daily Mail Travels Back To 1950s With 'Thigh-Flashing' Reshuffle Coverage

But McVey was careful not to criticise the paper in the wake of the backlash on Wednesday.

She told the BBC: "Oh, you know what, it highlights all those wonderful women."

Celebrating the coverage of female politicians, she also told Sky News: "All I can say is it's fantastic having women in powerful positions."

In its much-criticised two-page spread, the Mail critically examined the new Employment Minister's "don't mess with me" lipstick and "turbo-charged hair", along with Environment Secretary Liz Truss's "patriotic" red, white and blue ensemble and Claire Perry's wedges and "statement necklace".

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Green MP Caroline Lucas claiming it was an "all time low", saying she wanted to know what women running country think, not what they're wearing.

But Ms McVey, who was on a visit to Brompton Bicycles with the Prime Minister, said: "I think it's great news that people are talking about powerful women walking up in to Downing Street.

"You've got some great women there now, secretaries of state, new people who've just come in to Parliament.

"Whether that's (Education Secretary) Nicky Morgan, Liz Truss, or whether it's me staying in what I consider to be most important department, that is getting people in to work.

"So, you know what? If it takes a photo of some women getting a new job to start a whole generation of new young girls talking about what jobs I can do then that's fine by me."

esther mcvey david cameron

Minister for Employment and Disabilities Esther McVey looks at Prime Minister David Cameron during a tour of the production line at Brompton Bicycle Ltd in Brentford, Middlesex on Wednesday

Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned about the media's focus on the outfits and appearance of his new female ministers, David Cameron's official spokesman said: "Judgments for what goes into newspapers and other media channels is for those newspapers and media channels."

The Mail's Quentin Letts defended his paper's coverage on Sky News Wednesday, arguing with Eleanor Mills, the Editorial Director of The Sunday Times, who branded the reporting "retrogressive for women."

Letts insisted that the Cabinet reshuffle "focused very strongly on image over ideology… image was very much the driver," he said.

The columnist even resorted to playground name-calling in the fierce debate with The Sunday Times reporter, asking Mills, "remind me how the Sunday Times' circulation is doing again?"

But Becky Barrow - who is departing the Mail to go to the Sunday Times - slammed her own paper's coverage:

McVey was the main focus of the vacuous analysis, with the Mail practically salivating over the politician's "thigh-high slit skirt."

The Liverpudlian former TV star was the most pictured politician in the papers Wednesday, despite Nicky Morgan and Liz Truss being handed more prominent positions in the reshuffle.

Many have criticised image being prioritised over policy by certain media outlets.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg speculated what the result would be if the same style of coverage was given to male politicians:

Many others responded with fury to the "belittling" style of reporting, branding it "everyday sexism" and accusing the paper of setting "female politics back years":

Considering the demographic of the Mail, others queried why its readership is predominantly female.

David Cameron and Esther McVey visit to Brompton Bicycle Ltd

David Cameron and Esther McVey visit to Brompton Bicycle Ltd