Brown appoints first female home secretary, but drastically cuts women in Cabinet

Jacqui Smith has been appointed as Britain’s first female Home Secretary, reports The BBC.

She was formerly Chief Whip, but this seems to be a major promotion, as she has not headed up a government department before. On the plus side:

  • First female Home Secretary
  • She’s served as minister for women and deputy equalities minister, when the BBC reports she helped push through civil partnerships

But on the other hand, she looks set to carry on the increasingly authoritarian tradition of British Home Secretaries. Looking at her voting record, she has supported, among other things:

  • ID cards
  • Giving police the ability to hold terror suspects for 90 days without charge
  • Replacing Trident with a new nuclear deterrant

I can hardly wait to see absolutely nothing change at the Home Office.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Cabinet is even more male-dominated than before now that Gordon Brown has become PM. The BBC has put together a handy guide, but these are the highlights:

  • Although Harriet Harman has not been completely shafted, as looked likely earlier this week, her new role as Commons Leader does not involve any policy decisions.
  • Margaret Beckett has left government completely, with David Miliband replacing her at the Foreign Office.
  • Patricia Hewitt has also resigned, with Alan Johnson taking over the Department of Health
  • Tessa Jowell is to take on a new post to oversee the Olympics, with James Purnell taking over as Culture Secretary
  • Hazel Blears is taking over from Ruth Kelly at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Is it notable that the only occasion where one woman is being replaced by another woman is in this relatively minor department?
  • Ruth Kelly, meanwhile, has been given a promotion to Transport Secretary. So we can all breath a sigh of relief that she’s no longer in charge of any equality-related brief and wish her well with sorting out the trains!

Photo by andy.d, shared under a Creative Commons license