When the position of Minister for Equalities and Women’s Minister was up for grabs following the resignation of Maria Miller from the cabinet last week, the big question in everyone’s mind was: Who would David Cameron choose to fill Miller’s shoes, especially with the election looming next year? There is a distinct lack of female representatives in Government with only 3 women running departments out of a possible 22. The Government is “out of touch with the reality of women’s lives and struggles” thinks Gloria de Piero, the Labour shadow minister for women and equalities. Cameron had better choose wisely to gain the confidence of women that government has our best interests at heart. A number of strong female candidates sprung to mind, notably those who champion women’s real issues.
- ‘This is abuse campaign’, launched by Theresa May
- Vocal campaigner against FGM and early forced marriages, Justine Greening
- Campaign for Body Confidence lead by Lynne Featherstone and Jo Swinson (Miller’s deputy)
Female Breadwinners also liked as potential candidates the independent-minded Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsom. Equally Anna Soubry, who has the reputation of ‘speaking her mind’ when she jokingly accused Cameron of giving her a role historically given to women. ’Boss, you do know what you’ve just done? You’ve given public health to the girl again’.
So who was it to be?….drum roll….Instead of those great candidates, we were introduced to Nicky Morgan. “She’s the classic blue-stocking, solid Tory, deeply deeply reliable and efficient. And she’ll be a very good minister” said a conservative insider. We are less convinced as Morgan’s voted against legalising gay marriage, so Cameron split the women’s and equalities ministerial posts, the latter passed to Sajid Javid. As a result of the mini-shuffle of the cabinet Andrea Leadsom was appointed as Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
Is the only way women succeed in parliament when they maintain an air of caution and don’t have any radical opinions? ‘As whip, Morgan was forced to keep her head down – it’s in the nature of the job. As Economic Secretary, she’s been adept at toeing the Government line’ wrote The Guardian.
Will Morgan get the time to address women’s rights when the position is sidelined yet again with her other demanding role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury? Let’s hope she can juggle because we are counting on her.