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


*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

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?