'Not nearly enough women' in Cabinet, says Cameron

Feb 18, 2013

PM admits the government needs more women - but why did he need his wife to explain it to him?

DAVID CAMERON has decided there are not ”nearly” enough women in the top echelons of government. ”My wife likes to say that if you don't have women in 50 per cent of top positions, you are not missing out on 50 per cent of the talent, you are missing out on more than 50 per cent of the talent and I think she's right”, the Prime Minister told an audience in Mumbai today.

Nice sentiment, says the Daily Telegraph’s Emma Barnett, but there’s a problem – the prime minister is acting on advice from Samantha rather than coming to his own conclusions.

”If Mr Cameron really has to take his advice on promoting women from his wife, akin to having her help him pick out a pair of socks or a decent tie, our Prime Minister really has proven just how out of touch he is.

”It’s a bit like when someone white talks about racism, and quickly qualifies their views by explaining that ‘their best friend is black’.”

Barnett believes that Cameron – who in his last reshuffle cut the number of women in his 27-strong cabinet from five to four – should know for himself why it’s important to have women in his party and his Cabinet.

Responding to Cameron’s Mumbai speech, Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston  tweets: ”Actions speak louder than words.” The backbencher, one of 47 female Conservative MPs (out of a total of 302), says the House of Commons ”still has the feel of a 1950s boys boarding school and unlikely to change unless dragged into 21st century”.  

Cameron doesn’t just have a problem with too few Conservative women in politics – he’s also losing female voters. Peter Kellner, president of the pollster YouGov, points out that ”the politics of gender have bubbled to the surface of political debate” with some Conservative MPs concerned  ”women are deserting them in such numbers that the party will lose the next election”.

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