By Daniel Margrain
Does it matter that Labour’s new shadow cabinet has minimal experience in the posts that they have been handed? Does it matter that the Tory cabinet is overly represented by millionaires? Does it matter that they have no experience of ordinary people’s lives or do we just trust their best judgement?
Jeremy Corbyn, who yesterday selected his shadow cabinet, said he was going to make it 50 percent women. He did better than that by making it 51 percent. But one would never have got that impression after having listened to the continual carping throughout the day by the Tories and their metropolitan elite mouthpieces’ in the media.
In media interview after media interview, journalists emphasised the negative as opposed to the positive. This forced Corbyn on to the defensive. It should be noted that for his first nine years as Prime Minister, Tony Blair appointed NO women to any of the “Great offices of state”. He also appointed less women to his shadow cabinet and cabinet than Corbyn. But contextual analysis is not permitted within media circles. It’s true that we did hear Corbyn briefly outline his rationale but the media tone throughout was one of incredulity as opposed to sober analysis.
The suggestion was that none of the important jobs Corbyn had allocated went to women. But the shadow cabinet jobs within, for example, health and education, are arguably far more important for our society than a post like Foreign Secretary is. Corbyn and McDonnell alluded to this in the interviews that they did. The media failed to mention that, unlike Corbyn’s cabinet, the Tory cabinet does not reflect British society one iota. For instance, 55 percent of the latter went to Oxbridge but only 0.5 percent of the general public did. Furthermore, 45 percent of the Tory cabinet went to private schools but only 7 percent of the general public did.
Despite the fact that women make up 51 percent of the general population, within the Tory cabinet the figure is just 29 percent. This contrasts starkly with amount of women in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet where the figure is representative of the population of women within the country as a whole. In terms of ethnic composition, only one person in the Tory cabinet is from an ethnic minority background representing just 4.5 percent of the total. This compares with an ethnic minority population of 13 percent within the country as a whole.
There’s not much I agree with Hilary Benn on, but on this issue he was absolutely correct when, in response to a journalist’s criticism of Corbyn’s so-called failure to appoint a sufficient amount of women to top positions said, “It depends how one defines what a ‘top post’ is”. Indeed. The Tories’ emphasis on conflating the notion of status and power with war and finance, as opposed to say, health and education, is indicative of where the priorities of both the government and their echo chambers’ within the media lie.
It’s telling that the former jobs are regarded by the government as “important” whereas the latter are somehow deemed as being of less importance. The duplicity and double standards within the Tory ranks and their failure to look themselves in the mirror, is simply breathtaking. But more importantly, it’s the media’s lack of any critique that’s the most breathtaking aspect of all.