Support 100 years of independent journalism.

10 January 2018updated 28 Jun 2021 4:40am

No, Daily Mail, the reshuffle was not a “massacre of the middle-aged men”

Here’s why.

By Media Mole

The Mail is lamenting the loss of all the middle-aged white men from the top tiers of government, who have been taken to a special correction unit to learn how to use pronouns and word trigger warnings. Or so you’d think from this front page.

So let’s take a look at Theresa May’s post-reshuffle cabinet, shall we? Here they are, in all their diverse glory:

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.


Photo: Getty

Content from our partners
Transport is the core of levelling up
The forgotten crisis: How businesses can boost biodiversity
Small businesses can be the backbone of our national recovery

There has not been a purge of middle-aged men from cabinet. Yes, ten of the 11 ministers demoted during the reshuffle were white men, but the number of women has only risen by nine – there are still more than double the number of men (82, down from 89) than women (38, up from 29), and the average age of ministers has only decreased by a year (51, down from 52).

That’s on top of the fact that six of the eight women added to the non-cabinet ranks are junior whips – low-profile positions, with no speaking role in the Commons – and only one woman was promoted to a full cabinet role (Esther McVey to Work & Pensions, which doesn’t add anything because the former Education Secretary Justine Greening stood down).

Yes, there are now ten women attending cabinet (up from eight), but only because existing ministers Caroline Nokes (promoted to immigration minister) and Claire Perry (remaining energy minister) have been given seats at the cabinet table, despite not being secretaries of state.

The cabinet also still has just one member from an ethnic minority background, Sajid Javid, and one fewer gay member with the loss of former Education Secretary Justine Greening.

PLUS the cabinet is posher. Research by the Sutton Trust shows that there are now more privately-educated ministers than there were in May’s original cabinet – up to 34 per cent from 30 per cent in 2016. The most high-profile loss in this context was Greening, the first Education Secretary to have been educated at a comprehensive school since that system began. She was also the first openly gay woman in cabinet.

The number of Oxbridge-educated ministers has also increased, from 44 per cent of May’s first cabinet having attended Oxford or Cambridge university to 48 per cent.

So the Mail needn’t worry. The establishment is restored.