The Prime Minister’s aspiration of having women make up a third of his ministers by the time of the next election is looking rather unlikely to be met. Seven government departments still have no female ministers whatsoever. This may well change in the forthcoming reshuffle, but are there really enough women on the Tory benches to put straight into government?
Well, here’s a list of lady Tory backbenchers who I’d say would make excellent ministers, and these are off the top of my head without consulting a list, so apologies if I have missed any out…
Nicola Blackwood, Margot James, Charlotte Leslie, Sarah Newton, Caroline Nokes, Tracey Crouch, Caroline Dinenage, Penny Mordaunt & Priti Patel. I would have included Sarah Wollaston but she secured the Health Select Committee chairmanship this week.
Actually, I have now consulted the whole list of Tory MPs, and even if you include the ones I have missed out, there aren’t many more – once you take into account that several are standing down (Jessica Lee, Laura Sandys, Lorraine Fulbrooke).
There’s Angie Bray, Fiona Bruce, Therese Coffey, Jackie Doyle-Price, Pauline Latham, Rebecca Harris, Mary Macleod, Anne-Marie Morris, Heather Wheeler and Sheryll Murray.
All these are from the 2010 intake. I have to say that there are only a couple of women Tory MPs who I wouldn’t let near Ministerial office – and you’d be hard pushed to say the same about the male 2010 entrants. Of the pre-2010 women MPs, one suspects that if they haven’t made it now they never will. Sorry Nadine.
It seems to me the Prime Minister has an almost impossible task if he is to keep all parts of the party happy. He will make yet more enemies if he sacks maybe 15-20 junior ministers. So will be for the chop? When you actually look through the list, department by department, it’s not easy to come up with a list of automatic dead meat. I hesitate to put the black spot on anyone, mainly because I know a lot of them, but I think anyone who has been in the same department in a junior position for a while is likely to be in trouble. Cameron allies Greg Barker and Ed Vaizey fall into that category, as do Alan Duncan, Damian Green and James Brokenshire .
I can’t see much case for Cameron retaining the services of that old warhorse, John Hayes, who was reportedly saved from the axe by his mentor Iain Duncan Smith at the time of the last reshuffle.
And do you know what? The more I look down the list I reckon virtually every junior minister has cause to be nervous with the exception of those who were appointed at the last reshuffle. Even the likes of Greg Clark, Hugh Robertson and Nick Hurd – all perfectly good and competent ministers – may get the odd nervous twitch on reshuffle day. It’s a cruel game.
Imagine the outcry in The Sun or Mail if David Cameron had toddled off to Rio to watch all of England’s World Cup group games. He would be accused of abandoning ship, ignoring the crisis in Iraq and much more besides. But that’s exactly what Angela Merkel has done. She’s even gallivanting in the German team’s dressing room, having selfies taken with half naked German footballers. Lucky her. Just goes to show how supine the German press is. Given the choice, I think I’d have ours.
Rising Tory star and Women’s Minister Nicky Morgan came into my studio this week to do a phone-in with my listeners. She may be new at facing the media, but she didn’t put a foot wrong. I led her into temptation, but she was having none of it. I wonder if she had listened to Harriet Harman, who was in the day before telling us that Ed Miliband “was right to pose with The Sun and right to apologise for it”. I accused her of getting into a “contortion”, but she seemed impervious to the thought that she was effectively advocating having your cake and eating it. The following day, while I was presenting Drive, I was told on Twitter that our Harman phone-in was the subject of a serious debate on Radio 4’s PM programme. So, one drivetime show discussing another. One day the media will truly eat itself.
You may want to switch your radios on today at 7.30pm and tune them into LBC (we on DAB all over the country now). We will be playing out an interview I did with Lord Tebbit a couple of weeks ago in which he gives his tip for the next leader of the Conservative Party. Without giving the game away, I suspect this nugget will feature as a major news story in Saturday’s newspapers. (That’s a hint to lobby journalists. You may want to listen!).
Loving the World Cup, although I am getting fed up with 5 Live’s constant advertising of itself. If I hear “5 Live, Home of the World Cup” or “5 Live, the World Cup Station” again I won’t be responsible for my actions. It’s not just the station promos – you expect those. It’s the presenters and commentators uttering the words every three minutes that is so unutterably irritating. They’ve clearly been ordered to mention those phrases every time they mention the World Cup, but it just makes the listener want to switch off. OK, we all have slogans we use – on LBC we describe ourselves as “leading Britain’s conversation”, but most of us say it a couple of times an hour, which I’d have thought is acceptable. I haven’t counted, but “Home of the World Cup” is something you hear at least every five minutes on five Live. It is also factually incorrect.
So farewell then, Jeremy Paxman. You will be missed.
And a fond farewell to Ben Brogan, late of the Telegraph. He was axed yesterday along with a dozen or so other Telegraph journos in a day of the long knives at Telegraph Towers. Frankly, I am mystified by what is going on at the newspaper. They seem to be axing anyone with journalistic experience and bringing in a load of cheaper kids. And you know what they say: you can’t win a newspaper circulation war with kids. Ben is one of the best political commentators around and they are frankly barking mad to part with him. I suspect it will only be a matter of hours before he has a new job. Tell you what, though: I’m going to miss his early morning email.