Jeremy Corbyn comes out fighting amid sexism row and insists shadow Cabinet positions he has given to women are the real 'top jobs'

But no women appointed to shadow four great offices of state - PM, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary

Matt Dathan
Monday 14 September 2015 16:23 BST
Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has sought to fight off charges of sexism by appointing a shadow cabinet with more women than men for the first time in history.

The new Labour leader came under fire after deciding against appointing a woman to shadow the four great offices of state, but issued a statement insisting that those roles were "defined in the 19th century to reflect an era before women or workers even had the vote".

The real 'top jobs', according to Mr Corbyn and his new leadership team, are those overseeing key public services such as health, education and employment rights.

The most contentious decision was to appoint his close ally and fellow hard-left MP John McDonnell as shadow chancellor, which has drawn criticism even from supporters who believe he is too divisive for such a key role.

But Mr Corbyn insisted he had appointed a "uniting" shadow cabinet, which consists of 16 women and 15 men.

Another key position is shadow defence secretary, with Mr Corbyn's policies to scrap Britain's nuclear deterrent, pull the UK out of Nato and his fierce opposition to almost any foreign conflict putting him at odds with many in his party.

Chris Bryant admitted he turned down the role, while others, including Gloria de Piero were also rumoured to have rejected it. Finally Mr Corbyn gave the job to Maria Eagle, the former shadow Environment secretary.

Dismissing accusations of sexism, a statement from Mr Corbyn's team said: "For Labour our proudest achievement is the creation of the NHS. We are the party that delivered comprehensive education. We are the party that founded the Open University, and that established and will defend trade union and employment rights.

"The so-called 'great offices of state' as defined in the 19th century reflect an era before women or workers even had the vote, and before Labour had radically changed the state."

In a statement announcing his new team, Mr Corbyn said: “We have delivered a unifying, dynamic, inclusive new Shadow Cabinet which for the first time ever has a majority of women.

“I am delighted that we have established a Shadow Cabinet position for mental health which is a matter I have long been interested in.

“Angela Eagle’s appointment as the Shadow First Secretary of State means she will deputise for me when David Cameron is not available for Prime Minister’s Questions.

“The Shadow Cabinet is a strong combination of change and continuity that will now come together to hold this government to account, starting today with this pernicious Trade Union Bill.”

Full list of shadow cabinet appointments:

Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Party Chair and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office: Tom Watson MP

Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills:

Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: John McDonnell MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Seema Malhotra MP

Shadow Home Secretary: Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary: Hilary Benn MP

Opposition Chief Whip: Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health: Heidi Alexander MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Lucy Powell MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice: Lord Falconer of Thoroton

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention: Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: Lisa Nandy MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Chris Bryant MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Lilian Greenwood MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development: Diane Abbott MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: Ian Murray MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Nia Griffith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Kerry McCarthy MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities: Kate Green MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration: Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Minister for Mental Health: Luciana Berger MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lords Chief Whip: Lord Bassam of Brighton

Shadow Attorney General: Catherine McKinnell MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio: Jonathan Ashworth MP

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning: John Healey MP

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in