A discouraging piece (by two male journalists) in today’s Times, but usefully reinforcing the point that Boris Johson will be as feminist-compliant as David Cameron and Theresa May (not to mention Justine Bloody-Trudeau):
Boris Johnson is preparing to sack five women from his cabinet but is planning promotions in the junior ranks to justify the claim that he is leading the most female government.
Downing Street is braced for accusations of sexism in the reshuffle because women will make up the bulk of those dismissed in the shake-up, pencilled in for the second week of next month.
Those being targeted include Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, Thérèse Coffey, the welfare secretary, Theresa Villiers, the environment secretary, and Esther McVey, who attends cabinet as a housing minister.
Lady Morgan of Cotes has said that she does not wish to continue her role as culture secretary beyond the reshuffle after stepping down as an MP.
A shortage of female candidates in the middle ranks is hampering Mr Johnson’s plan. “It’s fair to say we’ve got a pipeline problem,” an ally said. [J4MB: The “pipeline problem” – the same perennial bullshit feminist argument we hear endlessly in relation to the number of women on corporate boards. And how do you solve the “problem”? Easy. Promote women in preference to better-qualified men. The usual.] The prime minister is understood to be resigned to suffering the embarrassment of a drop in the number of female cabinet members. At present eight women sit around the cabinet table.
Mr Johnson hopes that some of his blushes may be spared by an influx of women into government.
Of the 109 paid positions across government, 38 are held by women. An increase in their number could allow the prime minister to claim to be leading the most female government.
Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office minister, and Kit Malthouse, the police minister, could be promoted. However, middle-ranking and junior male ministers should brace themselves for a cull. A cabinet minister said: “If you’re a male junior minister, survival will be a win.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, and Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, are regarded as the most vulnerable men in the cabinet.
Helen Whately, a culture minister, and Lucy Frazer, a justice minister, are regarded as cabinet prospects, and Penny Mordaunt could return. Victoria Atkins, the minister for women, and another promotion prospect has yet to be forgiven by Mr Johnson for suggesting that he needed help with his “phrasing” when communicating with female voters.
Downing Street is aware that the Tories did relatively poorly among younger women. A YouGov analysis of the election on December 12 showed a significant gender gap among 18 to 24-year-olds. While they attracted 28 per cent of younger males only 15 per cent of women in that age group voted Conservative. For Labour, the party is on 46 per cent among young men and 65 per cent among young women.
That may explain why No 10 is determined to put new female MPs at the heart of its strategy. While only 35 of the 106 new Tory MPs are women they make up almost half the party’s 87 female MPs.
Cleo Watson, a trusted lieutenant to Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser, was given the task of meeting every new female Conservative MP. Some, such as Dehenna Davison, 26, the first Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, have already had many meetings with the media. In one interview she told ITV that if she became prime minister she would give Nigel Farage a peerage.
Downing Street is also understood to be keen to raise the profile of older new female MPs who have had long careers before entering Westminster. It also wants to use lifestyle magazines, such as Grazia, to increase the party’s appeal to women voters.
35,000 ‘weirdos’ answered my job ad, says Cummings
The call for “weirdos” and “misfits” to join him at the heart of Boris Johnson’s government has been answered by 35,000 people, Dominic Cummings said last night.
The prime minister’s senior adviser urged other political aides to follow his example and recruit unexploited talent to overhaul Whitehall.
He said that his blog, in which he appealed for unrecognised savants to put themselves forward for a job at No 10, had excited “huge interest” and some had been called for interview.
Mr Cummings said that the cabinet office, which oversees appointments, was being “co-operative” in accommodating the desire to widen the net when it came to hiring. In his weekly address, he also urged aides to be “smarter” about using the government’s power as a consumer to drive change among companies that depend on official contracts.
His comments were made as the controller of Radio 4 warned that cabinet ministers’ boycott of the Today programme, reputedly ordered by Mr Cummings, risked eroding the “layer of accountability” required for democracy to flourish. Mohit Bakaya urged an end to the boycott, adding that it was “not too high-blown to say our democracy relies on the dance between the media and politicians”.
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