New Equalities Minister attacks 'male and pale' coalition brokers

A senior Liberal Democrat protested yesterday over the lack of women in the new government as she was appointed the Equalities Minister.

Lynne Featherstone became only second woman from her party to secure a post in the new coalition administration.

She disclosed that she had told David Cameron that "we must do better" in promoting women after the Prime Minister offered her the Home Office job.

Ms Featherstone, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, will take over responsibility from Harriet Harman for championing equalities – albeit from a much more junior level of government.

She said she was "very disappointed" over the lack and turned her fire on her own party's failure to advance the cause of women, complaining about the composition of the Liberal Democrat and Tory teams which hammered out the coalition deal.

"When you look at the negotiating teams, they were male and pale. I think that is an issue," she told the BBC. "But if I look at the five Liberal Democrats, including Nick Clegg, who have gone into the Cabinet, they are, and this is one of the difficulties, extremely talented, extremely experienced and the heavy hitters in the Liberal Democrats.

"So the issue is how do you get women through the ranks of Parliament to those positions where they are then in a position to be in the Cabinet?"

Several other prominent Liberal Democrats were appointed last night to key posts in the new administration.

David Heath, who fought off a concerted attempt by the Conservatives last week to oust him from his Somerset constituency, will now find himself working hand-in-hand with the party as deputy to the Leader of the Commons, Sir George Young.

The MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, is taking on the tricky twin brief of serving as a government whip and the Liberal Democrat chief whip.

Ed Davey was made a junior business minister, Andrew Stunell a junior communities minister, Norman Baker a junior transport minister, Lord Wallace of Tankerness the Advocate general for Scotland and Lord Shutt of Greetland the Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords.

The most eye-catching Conservative appointment was the return of a former Cabinet minister, Lord Howell of Guildford, to the government after 27 years.

Lord Howell, 74, who served as Energy Secretary and Transport Secretary under Baroness Thatcher, became a minister of state in the Foreign Office.

Nick Hurd, the son of the former Home Secretary Lord Hurd of Westwell, became charities minister. He covered the same portfolio in opposition.

Andrew Robathan, a former army officer, was appointed to the Ministry of Defence, alongside the Aldershot MP Gerald Howarth.

The party's former Europe spokesman, Mark Francois, whose hopes of becoming Europe Minister were dashed, was made a government whip.

Maria Miller, who was shadow minister for the family, was appointed a junior minister in the Department for Work and Pensions. She will work alongside the former banker Lord Freud, the businessman who advised Mr Cameron in welfare reform.

However, a series of prominent Tory frontbenchers appeared last night to have fallen victim to the squeeze on ministerial posts because of the space being found for Liberal Democrats.

They included Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, who had been the shadow science minister, and Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea and Fulham, a former shadow Treasury minister.

Nor did there appear to be any space for Tobias Ellwood, who had been the shadow culture minister, or Eleanor Laing, a former shadow justice minister.

The former shadow Cabinet ministers, David Davis and Bernard Jenkin, also looked set to be disappointed.

*The creation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was given a warm welcome yesterday in a survey of voters.

The ComRes poll for the BBC's Daily Politics found 44 per cent believed it was good for Britain, against 21 per cent who took the opposite view. Twenty-eight per cent said they thought it would make no difference.

Sixty per cent said they expected the new government to be effective in reducing Britain's budget deficit.

Equality priorities

Liberal Democrats

*Tackle gender, sexuality, age, race, religion or disability discrimination

*Require name-blind job applications to reduce sex and race discrimination

*Introduce fair-pay audits for firms with more than 100 workers

*Public companies to declare remunerations of £200,000 a year or more

*Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees

*Seek to extend period of shared parental leave to up to 18 months

*Require better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people

*Confront homophobic bullying

Conservatives

*Extend right to request flexible working to all parents of children under 18 and all public-sector workers

*Allow both parents to take parental leave at the same time

*Require the longlist for directorship appointments to include a 50 per cent tally of female candidates

*Compulsory pay audit for employers losing gender pay discrimination employment tribunal cases

*Recognise civil partnerships in tax system; consider civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage

*Historic convictions for consensual gay sex with somebody 16 or over should be "spent"

*Tackle homophobic bullying

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links