Cabinet may be changing makeup, but is it a vote winner?


Rhian Waller

WITH less than a year to go before the next General Election, a political game of musical chairs has left us with some new faces at Westminster’s top table.

A reshuffle this week has seen Prime Minister David Cameron declare his Cabinet now “reflects modern Britain”.

What that means exactly is a little more opaque, but one thing for sure is the new crop has more women and more “TV friendly” faces than the former Cabinet.

Four of the fresh new faces at the Cabinet table will belong to women and many of yesterday’s papers were as interested in what they wore as they strode into No 10 to get their good news as their credentials for their respective jobs.

Esther McVey, a former TV presenter, and new Employment Minister, was even dubbed “Queen of Downing Street catwalk”.

The Cabinet has also become notably more youthful, with several of the silver haired stalwarts, including Kenneth Clarke and Welsh Secretary David Jones, having made way for younger colleagues.

Critics, including Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Gloria De Piero suggest this is a cynical attempt on the part of the Prime Minister to address his “woman problem”, while others say he is loading the Cabinet with TV faces in a crude push to secure re-election in 10 months’ time.

But the Prime Minister said he had made the appointments to Cabinet and second-rung ministerial posts simply as “they deserve those jobs”.

If it is a ploy to convince voters the government is more inclusive, it does not seem to be working in this region. When asked if they were pleased the Cabinet was becoming more representative, local people were both lukewarm and sceptical.

Amanda Neal, 49, of Wrexham, said: “I’d be more likely to support a government who care about the welfare of the British people and what was best for them and the UK as a whole. I couldn’t care less if they are male, female, young or old. Honest, caring and not in it for what’s best just for the MPs and fat cats – that’s what would get my vote.”

Most responding to the Leader’s straw poll did not care if the Cabinet was staffed by men or women, young or more experienced, they were more concerned with the job at hand.

Donna Taylor, 37, of Ruabon, said: “I would support female or male as long as the job is getting done properly.”

Eleri Philips, 57, of Rhos, said: “Sex doesn’t make a difference. They are all under the government umbrella.”

Gary Parker, 35, of Wrexham, said: “What should matter is whether the person doing the job is the best person for the job.” Anthony Cahill, 57, of Wrexham, said: “It could be good for the country if the promotions are based on merit rather than a vote grabbing exercise for next year’s General Election. It won’t change Government policy because the MPs are tied to it by the party whip system.”

Collette Lowry, 49, of Flint, said: “Your job suitability should be based on ability, not if you’re meeting equal opportunity ratios.”

But others did not think the changes went far enough and believed women were still under-represented in the Cabinet.

Pamela Wilson, 45, of Wrexham, said: “They should have women who have children, single mothers and married women who have had to live on benefits trying to make ends meet and women who work, as well as women who work and struggle.”

Mary Davies, 56, of Flint, said: “I think an-all women Cabinet 

would do better than the one we’ve got now.”

Sue Cartilidge, 56, of Flint, observed: “Increasing women from three to six isn’t that many is it?”

Others called for more transparency of the process of recruiting for top government jobs.

Ann Farr, 54, of Wrexham, said: “When there is reshuffle, why are we not told why people are moved? Have they performed poorly? No one says. It’s just speculation all the time.

“The Government need to speak to working people to see how the economy is affecting them. It doesn’t matter what age, race or religion are as long as they make a positive impact on the country.”

Chelsea Lawson-Swatton, 23, of Connah’s Quay, said: “I’d support them if they actually told the truth and cared about their people.”

For many, the new-look Cabinet was just an exercise in politicking – and they were not impressed.

Stephen Payton, 49, of Connah’s Quay, said: “The faces don’t matter, it is the policies which are wrong. 

“The reshuffle is purely about style over substance. This is what is wrong with current politics and why I and so many people have totally lost interest.”

Carol Jones, 43, of Holywell, said: “It’s all to try and trick us before the next election. He [Cameron] has got rid of the idiots the public hate because he knows they will lose him votes.”

Lee Sylvester, 28, of Broughton and originally of Chester, said: “It’s a clever tactic. Obviously someone sat there and had a lightbulb moment. Where can we get more votes from?

“It’s all mind games.”

Richard McGill, 37, of Queensferry who also hails from Chester, said: “Let’s be honest – none of them will care about working people. They are just in it for the money.”

l What do you think? Email with your views.

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