The new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who holds the Women and Equalities brief, voted against equal marriage. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.

Show Hide image

It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.