Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day-old administration was criticised by activists, the press and even his new coalition partners today for picking an almost entirely white, male and upper-class Cabinet despite pledging that his Conservative party would no longer be an old boys club.
Cameron and his deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, both grew up in wealthy families and attended elite schools.
The 23-member Cabinet they selected after forging a coalition government this week includes Britain’s first female Muslim to sit at Cabinet, but only three other women. Only two run government departments, the mark of influence and power.
Twenty-two Cabinet members are white, and at least 16 went to top universities Oxford or Cambridge.
Cameron has been trying to detoxify the image of the Conservative party as a small club of aristocrats hostile to minorities and indifferent to the poor. He’s been including more minority candidates and pledged in his campaign that a third of senior government jobs would go to women.
The participation of the left-leaning Lib Dems also raised expectations of more diversity, now dashed.
Eight per cent of Britain’s population consists of ethnic minorities, with Indians being the largest group followed by Pakistanis.