Earlier this year, we FactChecked Westminster’s battle of the sexes.
Today, with the news that Maria Miller has resigned as secretary of state for culture, it’s probably about time we did a stocktake.
This time the issue is one of female representation in the cabinet. After all, David Cameron was repeatedly accused of “hanging on” to Ms Miller for as long as possible because he didn’t want to be seen to lose a female, state-educated working mum from the table.
Speculation that the replacement would be like-for-like proved false: instead, Sajid Javed was announced as the new culture secretary.
Where does that leave the gender divide?How many women are in the cabinet now, compared to before?
The grand total of female cabinet ministers is: three (Home Secretary Theresa May, Development Secretary Justine Greening and Theresa Villers, Northern Ireland secretary). Before it was four; the female contingent is now three quarters what it was.
Of the 22 ministers in the cabinet, there are more Lib Dems than there are women (five); more privately educated than women (nine, not including Ms May, who attended both); and more who went to Oxbridge than there are women (15).
Thanks to this morning’s reshuffle, there are now more than one, albeit one more than one, female ministers also allowed to attend cabinet, in additional roles. Before, Baroness Warsi could attend as Minister of State for Faith and Communities, and now, Nicky Morgan, Mr Javid’s replacement, can attend due to being given the role as Minister for Women.
On this last point: until this morning, Maria Miller was the minister for women and equalities.
That role, however, no longer exists, according to the government website.
Why the change of heart? We did ask about what had happened, and we were told it was Mr Cameron’s decision to make the new role of minister for women, with equalities now falling under Mr Javid’s brief. “It’s because it’s getting the right people to do the right jobs,” a Number 10 spokeswoman said.
So does that mean Ms Morgan isn’t the right person for the job of equalities minister? Was her vote against gay marriage anything to do with the change in role?
The prime minister denied that it was. Asked whether she was stripped of the equalities brief because of how she voted on gay marriage, his spokesman said: “No. The equalities brief was part of [the Department for Culture, Media and Sport] this morning, before Maria Miller resigned, and remains so now.
“What has changed today is that Nicky Morgan has been given a new women’s minister role in the cabinet that will range much more widely across government – beyond just equalities. This reflects the importance which the Prime Minister attaches to these issues.”
What about in the House of Commons?
That hasn’t changed since January, when we last looked at this issue.
Then, the Tories had 48 female MPs out of 303; Labour had 86 (out of 257), which remains the same. Likewise with the Lib Dems – 7 women out of 56 MPs. Labour still has the most: 33 per cent, compared with the Tories’ 15 per cent, and the Lib Dems’ 12.5 per cent.
We also wanted to know whether the picture for 2015 was likely to be very different.
Again, Labour has selected the highest proportion of female candidates, though it’s fallen slightly due to the election of Mike Kane in Wythenshawe, a seat which was awaiting a by-election when we last looked: of 243 candidates selected, 98 are women – 40 per cent (it was 43 per cent in January).
The Tories come second, with 20 out of 68, or 29 per cent.
And the Lib Dems? Latest tally was that out of 108 candidates, 31 are women, or 28 per cent.
In other words, it looks as though little will change on which ever side the Tories sit on after the next election.