Cameron puts more women in Shadow Cabinet

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Indy Politics

David Cameron promoted two women to his Shadow Cabinet as he began the task of trying to deliver his pledge to transform how the Conservative Party looks.

The number of women in the Tories' top team doubled from two to four, but there are still more Davids in the 24-strong Shadow Cabinet than women - five. With only 17 female MPs out of 198 to choose from, Mr Cameron's room for radical change was limited.

The most striking promotion goes to Theresa Villiers, 37, who has only been an MP since the election in May. She becomes shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury without serving as a junior frontbencher. Cheryl Gillan, previously a home affairs spokesman, becomes shadow Welsh Secretary.

Today, Mr Cameron will highlight his new policy agenda by joining forces with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Green Alliance to launch a "quality of life" policy review, one of six commissions he is setting up. The leader will say that quality of life issues will be at the heart of his agenda and that the party has not given enough priority to the environment in the past.

Some Labour MPs are worried that the Tories may outflank the Government on green issues. Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham South and an environmental campaigner, said: "It is a great move by Cameron. The reality is that Blair has missed a trick on this. Blair has banned the green lobby from Downing Street just when climate change and sustainability is going to become one of the central political issues of our time."

In his reshuffle, Mr Cameron deliberately rewarded MPs who backed rival candidates in the Tory leadership contest in an attempt to cement party unity. David Willetts, who supported his rival David Davis, lands the post of shadow Education Secretary, one he has held in the past but which will be important as the Tories try to win the voters' trust on public services.

Chris Grayling, campaign manager for Dr Liam Fox, wins promotion to shadow Transport Secretary. The previous holder, Alan Duncan, moves to trade and industry while another moderniser, Theresa May, becomes shadow Commons leader. The other woman in the team, Caroline Spelman, will shadow John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.

Newcomers to the Shadow Cabinet announced yesterday are Ms Villiers; Ms Gillan; Hugo Swire, who becomes culture spokesman; David Mundell, the shadow Scottish Secretary; Peter Ainsworth, who wins a recall as shadow Environment Secretary after a spell on the backbenches.

Among those losing their posts were the right-winger John Redwood, who will help to lead a policy group on economic competitiveness. There was no Shadow Cabinet post for Boris Johnson, editor of The Spectator and MP for Henley.

Nick Herbert, an MP since May, wins an early promotion to frontbench spokesman on police reform outside the Shadow Cabinet. Other junior posts will be announced next week.

Fourteen of the top team were members of Michael Howard's cabinet and eight keep the same jobs, including Andrew Lansley as health spokesman. Bernard Jenkin, energy spokesman under Mr Howard, becomes deputy Tory chairman and will work to ensure the party has more female MPs after the next election.

FURTHER APPOINTMENTS

* CHRIS GRAYLING
Shadow Transport Secretary

The 43-year-old MP for Epsom and Ewell is a rising star who, as shadow Commons leader, played a key role in forcing David Blunkett's second resignation last month. Also won plaudits for running the leadership campaign of Liam Fox. Formerly a junior spokesman on Health and Education.

* THERESA VILLIERS
Shadow Chief Secretary

A very rapid promotion for the 37-year-old MP for Chipping Norton, who has been an MP for only seven months. Before that, she was a London MEP for six years and a notable Eurosceptic, famous for saving Jammie Dodger biscuits from EU regulations. She voted for David Cameron in every round of the contest.

* CHERYL GILLAN
Shadow Welsh Secretary

The 53-year-old is one of the few shadow ministers who has held government office. John Major made her a junior employment minister only three years after she was elected MP for Chesham and Amersham in 1992, but her ascent has since been slow. Born in Cardiff, but has spent her whole political career in England.

* DAVID WILLETTS
Shadow Education Secretary

"Two brains" is forgiven for withdrawing from the contest in September to back David Davis, who looked like a sure winner. His command of detail will be useful in the battle over school reforms. The 49-year-old Havant MP has held numerous jobs, most recently Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary.

* HUGO SWIRE
Shadow Culture Secretary

The 46-year-old, who became MP for East Devon in 2001, at the same time as David Cameron, brings ersatz glamour to the front bench. Joe Strummer, of The Clash, was his brother-in-law, and he once stepped out with Jerry Hall. His father-in-law is former Defence Secretary Sir John Nott.

* ALAN DUNCAN
Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary

The 48-year-old Rutland and Melton MP is probably best known as the only out gay on the Tory front bench, and a recent guest on Have I Got News For You? He has also business experience as an oil trader. He considered running for the leadership but then withdrew to back the winner David Cameron.

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