The Parties | 16th July 2014

The new Cabinet ministers are divided on the EU and gay rights

Reaction to yesterday’s reshuffle largely focused on how far it was a “purge of […]

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Reaction to yesterday’s reshuffle largely focused on how far it was a “purge of the middle-aged men” – as the Daily Mail put it.

On Monday night we reported on how many of the old guard of the Tory party would be moved on. In the end, eight white, male ministers aged between 53 and 74 departed.

David Cameron replaced this group by giving seven MPs the right to attend Cabinet, and promoted a formerly peripheral minister, Nicky Morgan, to the job of Education Secretary.

We have already taken a look at how this changed the balance of women and the age of the Cabinet. It has otherwise left the number of Oxbridge-educated, private-schooled and white ministers largely unchanged.

But the reshuffle has also had an ideological impact. As we noted, Cameron has culled the Tory left. This may be incidental; he seems to have been primarily motivated by moving older ministers on.

He has nevertheless replaced the old guard with a group that is wholly signed up to the party’s core policies, if one that is clearly undecided on its biggest ideological divides.

Using voting records from TheyWorkForYou, our analysis shows that the new Cabinet-attending ministers all support the coalition’s core policies on health, education, welfare, banks and tuition fees. (A rating of zero indicates full support for the rightwing position on each issue.)

As a group, it is less clear on gay rights and Europe. Four of the group – Morgan, Truss, McVey, and Hancock – are moderately in favour of further EU integration. The others either have mixed voting records or are moderately against it.

On gay rights, only three have relatively clear positions. Hancock and Truss are strongly for gay rights and gay marriage, whereas McVey has consistently voted against equal rights. Morgan has a mixed voting record on gay rights policies, but her opposition to same-sex marriage has seen her relinquish the responsibility of implementing it; this has been handed down to Nick Boles, who has a new dual role spanning BIS and the DfE.

The PM’s new Cabinet is united on the coalition’s core policies, but doesn’t provide a strong consensus on the issues that have been dividing the Tory party for most of its time in government.

This piece was originally published on the New Statesman on 16 July 2014.