Jeremy Corbyn under fire for male dominated shadow cabinet

Jeremy Corbyn under fire for male dominated shadow cabinet

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Leader of the Labour Party, has been criticised for not appointing any women into senior shadow cabinet positions.

John McDonnel, who was Corbyn’s campaign agent, was made Shadow Chancellor, while Hilary Benn will continue as Shadow Foreign Secretary. Andy Burnham, who came second in the leadership contest, will be Shadow Home Secretary.

Comparatively, the current Conservative government has one woman in a senior cabinet position – Theresa May, who is Home Secretary.

Benn says Corbyn's shadow cabinet would be made up of 50% women.

When asked why there was no female presence in the top five jobs, Benn says: “Two of those five were elected by the members, that's Jeremy and Tom [Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party]. It is a slightly old-fashioned view [that only these roles are important]. International development is Diane Abbott and the refugee crisis has shown how this role is vital.

"Jeremy is committed to having a shadow cabinet in which half of its members are women - and that has never happened before."

Benn also disputes the status of the senior shadow cabinet positions: "Jeremy said very, very clearly we don’t accept the hierarchical nature of what we’ve inherited by these supposed top jobs. They largely stem from the 19th century when we had an empire ... For most people the real top jobs are the ones that provide the services on health and education and those sorts of things. So he has broken with that tradition, and I’m really pleased. The [shadow] cabinet looks as though it will be completely gender balanced, but also the whole administration I think will be gender balanced.

"They are not top jobs. I don’t accept that. You can’t say that Foreign Secretary is more important than delivering education to our children, or the health of the population. We don’t accept those hierarchies.

"You’ll see in future that the person responsible for education or health, those real concrete services, will be the people that will be out there, arguing the policies. In some ways the Chancellor of the Exchequer will play less of a role because it will be the people delivering the real services."

Labour MP for Hull North Diana Johnson Tweeted: “It is so very disappointing - old fashioned male dominated Labour politics in the top positions in Shadow Cabinet #notforgirls.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Labour MP for Bassetlaw John Mann says: "Well if it remains like it is it's a big problem. Jeremy is going to have to learn what leadership is about, and so some of his mates now today won't get jobs because he is going to have to put some women in instead.

"He has appointed three women from London. He needs to ensure that the whole country is represented and it is not just a London-led leadership. That diversity - geographically, gender wise - that is fairly critical."

The other shadow cabinet appointments are;

  • Rosie Winterton as Chief Whip
  • Angela Eagle as Shadow First Secretary of State, and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Heidi Alexander as Shadow Health Secretary
  • Lord Falconer of Thoroton as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
  • Seema Malhotra as shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
  • Lucy Powell as Shadow Secretary of State for Education
  • Owen Smith as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
  • Maria Eagle as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
  • Jon Trickett as Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention
  • Lisa Nandy as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
  • Chris Bryant as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
  • Lilian Greenwood as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
  • Vernon Coaker as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
  • Diane Abbott as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
  • Ian Murray as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Nia Griffith as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
  • Kerry McCarthy as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Kate Green as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
  • Michael Dugher as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Gloria Del Piero as Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration
  • Luciana Berger as Shadow Minister for Mental Health
  • Baroness Smith of Basildon as Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
  • Lord Bassam of Brighton as Lords Chief Whip
  • Catherine McKinnel as Shadow Attorney General
  • Jonathan Ashworth as Shadow Minister without Portfolio
  • John Healy as Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning
  • Yvette Cooper will continue her work on bringing together councils, faith groups, and community groups to respond to the refugee crisis. She will chair Labour’s task force on refugees.

In a statement, Jeremy Corbyn says: “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.”

Image courtesy of Garry Knight.

Comments (1)

  • Muppetm
    Wed, 16 Sep 2015 1:25pm BST
    Surely, if the right people have been selected for the right role that is what matters? If a woman was given a job over a man, who had better experience, just to make up the female numbers wouldn't that be insulting?

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