- Just 5 of Theresa May’s 22 Cabinet ministers are women, the same number as before the reshuffle
- 82 men now in government, 7 fewer than before the reshuffle, but still account for almost 70% of ministers
The Daily Mail has been called “hysterical” for labelling Theresa May’s reshuffle a “massacre of the middle-aged men”, despite the fact her Cabinet is just as male as before.
The paper highlighted that 12 of 19 Tory MPs who are not white now have a job in Government or helping run the party, that eight new women were given jobs and that May had said her reshuffle was meant to make her Government look “more like the country”.
It quoted MP Philip Davies, who has repeatedly clashed with feminists, as saying: “Some people may feel they have been hoofed or not promoted simply because they are a white male.”
But Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman, told HuffPost UK the front page was “hysterical”.
She said: “This is another hysterical Daily Mail headline which disguises the facts. Massacre, what massacre? The Tories have kept the middle aged men comfortably in power.
“If you’re male, white and privately educated, don’t worry, you’re even better represented than at the start of the week.
“The Conservatives are trying desperately to spin a Cabinet that is three quarters men, privately educated, and southern, and widely unrepresentative of the country as a whole.”
Sophie Walker, the Women’s Equality Party leader who stood against Davies in the June election, joked “no middle-aged men were harmed in the making of this headline”, adding: “Middle-aged men however, continue to massacre the truth.”
Deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson tweeted a picture of the prime minister with her 22 Cabinet ministers, 16 of whom are white men, and then mocked a journalist for asking if the prime minister’s reshuffle suggested “white men can’t do the job”.
Just five of May’s 22 Cabinet ministers are women, the same number as before the reshuffle.
Three of the four people who were promoted to the Cabinet were men - Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock, Party Chairman Brandon Lewis and Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
The reshuffle also saw Justine Greening, the first education secretary who went to a comprehensive school, resign.
The first photos of new Cabinet also appeared to put a dampener on the Mail’s headline claim.
Talat Yaqoob, a campaigner who co-founded the Parliament 50:50 movement, pointed out the Cabinet is still 74% male.
The Government’s claim it was promoting talent to make its Cabinet and front bench more diverse came under the microscope as journalists noted much of the change was at more junior levels.
Reacting to the Mail’s front page, Sky News journalist Beth Rigby contrasted it with the fact that men still made up the comfortable majority of politicians in Government and the moderate increase in women was not reflected in Cabinet.
HuffPost’s Paul Waugh noted that more women are now attending Cabinet, but not as full members of it. Six women have been appointed junior whips but the senior positions are still held by men.
At the briefing of journalists on Tuesday, reporters from the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph asked about the number of white men.
Questioned by the Mail if the reshuffle amounted to “positive discrimination” for minority ethnic MPs, the PM’s spokesman said: “It’s important the government reflects the country it serves. It is a case of getting talent in place.”
When the Telegraph asked if May was sending a signal that “white men can’t do the job”, the spokesman replied: “If you look across the Government it’s very clear there is going to be a contribution from MPs of all intakes and of all types.”
Analysis by social mobility The Sutton Trust found that, of the 23 full Cabinet ministers (including the PM) who make up the Government’s top team, 34% attended fee-paying schools - up from 30% in May’s first Cabinet in July 2016.
As well as an over-representation of private school alumni, almost half (48%) of Cabinet ministers went to either Oxford or Cambridge universities.
Dr Lee Elliot Major, chief executive of The Sutton Trust, said: “The Prime Minister’s Cabinet has to reflect the society that they represent and this is a step in the wrong direction.
“Anyone should be able to become a minister, regardless of social background.”