The Times reflects on David Cameron's lack of women on the front bench.
David Cameron has lined up an all-male team to attack Labour over the economy, raising concerns within his own ranks that he has downgraded his pledge to promote women in the Conservative Party.
A high-profile female parliamentary candidate said: “The fact that there are not more women in the inner circle inevitably affects policy. It’s deeply worrying.”
It's deeply worrying indeed, because it suggests that the quality of women candidates for that "inner circle" is pretty low.
Aides say that many existing female MPs have underperformed and point out that just 17 of the 125 female MPs in Parliament are Conservatives.
Just take a look at the women in Labour's cabinet to get a feel for the quality they are up against - Jacqui Smith, Harriet Harman, Hazel Blears, Tessa Jowell - need I say more? If you wanted a prime example of how promotion on the basis of gender rather than merit leads to a dilution of quality then there it is.
The truth is that there aren't that many women in politics who are really up to the task - if there were they'd be doing it. It's ludicrous to suggest that thirty years after we elected our first female PM we're not permitting women to rise to the top. If they were good enough they'd be up there. The likes of Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher and Shirley Williams achieved so much because they were formidable politicians - not because they were women. The likes of Jacqui Smith and Harriet Harman have risen up the ranks because they were women - not because they were great politicians.
Anyone who believes that there should be more women in government simply because of their gender is a rampant sexist. Also, the idea that only women can deal with political issues that affect women while women are just as good as men at dealing with political issues that affect men is barmy. The fact is that gender shouldn't even come into the equation - policy should be framed for all people regardless of gender.