Replacing Maria Miller descends into 'Yes Minister' farce

Apr 9, 2014
Jack Bremer

Women and Equalities job has to be split - because PM's candidate doesn't believe in gay marriage

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

DAVID CAMERON this morning appointed Sajid Javid, a trusted Treasury minister and the son of a Pakistani-born bus driver, to replace the humiliated Maria Miller as Culture Secretary.

But the Prime Minister's attempt to brush the Miller affair under the carpet before MPs depart on their Easter holidays turned into a farce reminiscent of the best episodes of Yes Minister.

That's because the other half of Miller's Cabinet role was Secretary for Women and Equalities. Surely a man would not be appointed to hold this brief? That would be the ultimate proof that Cameron has a "problem" with women.

The Mole: three good reasons why Miller had to go

Well, Number Ten's answer is that, yes actually, "The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport remains Secretary of State for Women and Equality."

The compromise is that a woman has been found to act as Minister under Javid. She is ­Nicky Morgan, who also takes Javid's old job at the Treasury.

"Ms Morgan will be minister for women and will attend Cabinet. It's been beefed up," the PM's spokesman explained.

But here's the catch: Morgan can only look after Women ­ not Equalities.

Why? Because in February 2013 she voted against gay marriage.

''I totally support civil partnerships and that same-sex relationships are recognised in law," she said. "But marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman."

So, Javid himself will look after Equalities.

Needless to say, Westminster watchers have been having a field day while lobby journalists gathered after Prime Minister's Questions to press the PM's spokesman to explain who would answer for the government when a minister is next due to take "questions to the minister for women and equality".

As Paul Waugh at Politics Home tweeted: "Just asked No 10 if Nicky Morgan is Minister for Heterosexual Women + not Homosexual Women. No 10 not amused but it was serious."

On the plus side, neither of the new faces in the Cabinet is an Old Etonian. Javid attended Downend comprehensive in Bristol; Morgan went to Surbiton High School. As the Daily Telegraph reports, the mini-shuffle means there are now five women and two Asians who have a right to attend Cabinet.

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Replacing Maria Miller descends into 'Yes Minister' farce. You don’t understand Mr. Cameron’s Matryoshka concept.

For all of the contortions Nicky Morgan makes necessary, anyone wanting an example of 'strange bedfellows' should look at the recent result for Labo(u)r in the rerun of the Senate election for WA. The #1 spot was won by a Mr Bullock (unfortunately, seriously apt) who dissed his running mate for being Lesbian with a dubious spousal arrangement and ensured the vote was so low she cannot win her long held position in which she had been remarkably effective.