The new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who holds the Women and Equalities brief, voted against equal marriage. Photo: Getty
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Nicky Morgan's opposition to equal marriage causes further headaches for the PM

Nicky Morgan, the new Education Secretary, is also Women and Equalities minister. But responsibility for same-sex marriage has trickled down to a junior minister because of her opposition to the flagship policy.

Nicky Morgan, previously a Treasury minister, has today been promoted by David Cameron to Education Secretary. It wasn't long ago that Morgan was hoisted from the junior ministerial ranks to the role of Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Back in April, she was shuffled upwards to the Treasury replace Sajid Javid, who took the position of Culture Secretary when Maria Miller resigned. She also inherited Miller's other brief: Women and Equalities.

Just hours after this decision, the problems started to pile up for the PM. Morgan, a committed Christian, opposed same-sex marriage, and so how could she represent Equalities? I remember being at the Prime Minister's spokesman's briefing that day, and the journalists beginning to circle. Was Morgan – whose voting record makes her "moderately against" policy in favour of gay rights generally – a minister simply for straight women then, as Helen Lewis wrote at the time? The PM's spokesman squirmed, and there was some sort of fudge where Javid would head Equalities and Morgan would keep Women, but it was never wholly clear.

Well, the problem has returned. There is still the concern that Morgan, who retains her Women and Equalities brief as she is enters the DfE, voted against same-sex marriage. This is clear from the role the PM has given Nick Boles, the former planning minister. Boles is going to be both a BIS and Education minister, and part of his brief will be equal marriage.

Here's the PM's tweet with his ingenious solution:

A bit of an odd set of responsibilities, and a clearly botched-together solution highlighting the ultimate lack of importance Cameron and his circle lend to the Women and Equalities role.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Goodbye, Sam Allardyce: a grim portrait of national service

In being brought down by a newspaper sting, the former England manager joins a hall of infamy. 

It took the best part of 17 years for Glenn Hoddle’s reputation to recover from losing the England job.

Between leaving his job as manager in February 1999 and re-surfacing as a television pundit on ITV during the 2014 World Cup, Hoddle was English football’s great pariah. Thanks to his belief in faith healer Eileen Drewery and a string of unconventional and unacceptable views on reincarnation, he found himself in exile following in a newspaper interview during qualification for England’s Euro 2000 campaign.

But just as Hoddle is now cautiously being welcomed back to the bosom of English football, current incumbent Sam Allardyce has felt the axe fall. After less than two months in charge of the national side and with only a single game under his belt, the former Bolton Wanderers manager was caught up in a sting operation by the Daily Telegraph — allegedly offering guidance on how to circumvent his employer’s rules on third-party player ownership.

The rewards for guiding an English team to major international success promise to be spectacular. As a result, the price for any failure — either moral or performance-related — is extreme.

Hoddle’s successor – the endearing Kevin Keegan – resigned tearfully in a toilet at Wembley after a tumultuous 18-month spell in charge. His replacement, the laconic Sven-Göran Eriksson, provided moments of on-field excitement paired with incredible incidents of personal indiscretion. His tangle with "fake sheikh" Mazher Mahmood in the run up to the 2006 World Cup – an incident with haunting parallels to Allardyce’s current predicament – led to a mutual separation that summer.

Steve McClaren was hapless, if also incredibly unfortunate, and was dispatched from the top job in little over a year. Fabio Capello – who inspired so much optimism throughout his first two years in charge – proved himself incapable of lifting the hex on English major tournament fortunes.

The Italian’s star was falling from the moment he put his name to the oddly timed Capello Index in 2010, although his sustained backing of then captain John Terry over a string of personal misdemeanours would prove to be the misjudgement that ultimately forced his exit. As Allardyce has found out, the FA has become increasingly hard on lapses in moral judgement.

English football is suffused with a strange mix of entitlement and crushing self-doubt. After a decade that has given us a Wimbledon champion, several Ashes triumphs, two Tour de France winners and eye-watering Olympic success, a breakthrough in this area has never felt further away.

In replacing Capello, Roy Hodgson — the man mocked by Allardyce during his hours supping pints with Telegraph reporters — had hoped to put a rubber stamp on a highly respectable coaching career with a spell managing his own country. But this summer’s farcical defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 put his previous career in a much harsher light.    

Allardyce was a mix of the best and worst of each of his predecessors. He was as gaffe-prone as Steve McClaren, yet as committed to football science and innovation as Hodgson or Capello. He also carried the affability of Keegan and the bulldog spirit of Terry Venables — the last man to make great strides for England at a major tournament.  

And as a result, his fall is the most heartbreaking of the lot. The unfairly decried charlatan of modern football is the same man who built a deeply underrated dynasty at Bolton before keeping Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland afloat in the most competitive league in Europe.

And it was this hard apprenticeship that convinced the FA to defy the trendy naysayers and appoint him.

“I think we make mistakes when we are down here and our spirit has to come back and learn,” Hoddle mused at the beginning of his ill-fated 1999 interview. As the FA and Allardyce consider their exit strategy from this latest sorry mess, it’s difficult to be sure what either party will have learned.

The FA, desperately short of options could theoretically turn again to a reborn Hoddle. Allardyce, on the other hand, faces his own long exile. 

You can follow Cameron on Twitter here.