More women in the Cabinet doesn't make things fairer

DAVID Cameron shuffled his ministerial pack this week and swapped some men in grey suits for a handful of women in heeled shoes.

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We are expected to believe this is a recognition that women are every bit as capable of running government departments as the men and as such should be in the Cabinet.

However, this sudden conversion to equal representation has more to do with a General Election next year and the strategists telling him that women's votes will be crucial and his current boys' club is not wooing the ladies. So what does the reshuffle tell us about the Prime Minister and what to expect if he holds on to the keys of Number 10 for a second term?

One reason to reject the idea that fairness was at the heart of his decision on who to axe and who to promote is to look at who kept their job and will lead the charge at the polls.

George Osborne, Robin to the Prime Minister's batman or Rodney to his Del Boy, will stay and press ahead with the austerity agenda. And Ian Duncan Smith will remain at the DWP and continue to ensure the welfare budget bears the brunt of the onslaught.

Most government ministers seek to protect their departmental budget, not enthusiastically look for ways to slash it.

The plan is for another £12bn to be cut from the UK's welfare budget which amounts to almost half the £25bn Mr Osborne says needs to be removed from public spending in the two years after the next election.

That is what the reshuffle tells us about the vision Mr Cameron has up until 2020. And the studies over the last five years have shown us it is women who bear the brunt of austerity. Women in the many lower paid public sector jobs, who have had a pay freeze, while the cost of living increases.

Women heading lone parent families who have had their benefit cut, whether they are in work or not. And women who are caring for a disabled relative who is now told they are fit to work even when it is obvious they are not capable.

Figures from the House of Commons show that in Scotland almost 70% of the already planned £4bn cuts in Scotland will impact mostly on women.

Single parents, mostly women have also been shown to have seen a fivefold increase in benefit sanctions applied by jobcentre officials.

While the pictures of women leaving Downing Street with new ministerial portfolios might be designed to show Mr Cameron's feminine side, the truth is we can expect more of the same

Behind the supposed new female façade of the cabinet lies the same masculine agenda to force the burden of public spending cuts on to those who can least afford to carry it.

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