Caroline Lucas’s all female Cabinet is not the right approach to stop Brexit

I have a lot of respect for Caroline Lucas – I think she has generally been brilliant and a voice of reason on Brexit. Her willingness, like Jo Swinson, to work proactively and co-operatively across party lines on the crisis facing our nation is very welcome and laudable.

However, I was dismayed to hear Lucas proposing an all-female emergency cabinet to stop Brexit. At a time when families, communities and the nation are so bitterly divided over the most important and pressing issue of the day, do we really want to manufacture yet more division along gender lines? I’m going to be charitable and put it down to a PR stunt – if that is the case, then let’s face it, she has succeeded.

There is a lot of evidence that diverse leadership teams and a diverse workforce lead to better decision making and more successful organisations – that’s why we see so many companies focusing and investing heavily in actually walkingthe walk on diversity and inclusion, not just talking the talk. Diversity means just that – a team that includes BOTHgenders and people from a variety of different backgrounds with a range of experience. I would be just as concerned by an all-female (and all white to boot) cabinet as I would an all-male cabinet.

How could an emergency national unity cabinet to tackle Brexit seriously omit the likes of Hilary Benn, Dominic Grieve, Vince Cable, Keir Starmer or Ken Clarke?  What about Rory Stewart? All men who command great respect across the political spectrum whose contribution to such a team would be immense (granted, they don’t help address the lack of BAME individuals).

The idea that women are more conciliatory is a total red herring – five minutes of Emily Thornberry grandstanding and patronising others on Question Time is enough to prove that she’s not naturally the conciliatory type, yet she features on Caroline Lucas’s “dream team”.

We need the best minds from across the political spectrum focused on the task of getting us out of this almighty mess and rescuing us from the terrifying precipice we are hurtling towards.


* Munira Wilson is Lib Dem spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care. MP for Twickenham

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  • Well said Munira. I’m afraid my previously high opinion of Caroline Lucas has taken a bit of a hit due to this intervention, which I found indulgent, divisive, and more than a little bit arrogant.

  • This episode demonstrates summertime over-hurried thinking. It is no time for MPs to have long holidays!

  • Absolutely Munira. Interesting that CL feels the need to apologise for excluding women of colour (<10% of population ?) but nothing about excluding the 50% who happen to be born male. The nadir of identity politics.

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Aug '19 - 11:36am

    I agree – well said.

    I think it was a very silly move on Caroline Lucas’s part.

  • If meant as a Publicity Stunt, it worked very well & is just the sort of thing We should be doing, particularly if we can involve Jo Swinson.
    We have to continually remind ourselves how very little attention most Voters pay to Politics. The general impression that most Voters will receive is a reminder that Caroline Lucas/The Green Party exists & is important in some way.
    That is just the sort of Reminder we need Voters to get about Us & about Jo Swinson in particular. Jo is actually relatively popular among the minority who have heard of her, we need to make her widely known & this Stunt is just the sort of thing that might do it.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '19 - 12:42pm

    The objective should be to maximise support, so Caroline Lucas should be included, speaking as she does not just for the electorate of Brighton Pavilion, but also for other Green men and women.
    Did she include the Independent Unionist MP from Northern Ireland?

  • John Bicknell 13th Aug '19 - 12:47pm

    Yes, this is the second gaffe that Caroline Lucas has made recently. The other was to state that she wouldn’t respect the result of a further referendum, if the vote was for leave (admittedly, Jo Swinson also fell into that trap, before correcting herself), thus putting herself into the same morally dubious position as Boris Johnson’s threat to suspend parliament in order to get his own way.

  • David Warren 13th Aug '19 - 1:37pm

    I think Caroline dropped a real clanger when she failed to include Diane Abbott!

    In the longer term I think this ridiculous idea will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

  • marcstevens 13th Aug '19 - 2:34pm

    I totally agree on Emily Thornberry. You could put Chukka Umunna in there too so there would be more BAME representation.

  • I agree. Just when we need everyone focusing on the huge challenge ahead, it is disappointing to see Lucas off making a fool of herself with her ridiculous proposal.

    Since when was an all-female Cabinet a politically acceptable thing, anyway, any more than an all-male one?

  • David Evershed 13th Aug '19 - 7:40pm

    By excluding Leavers from her unity cabinet Lucas has left out 52% of the population.

    Then she has left out half of what’s left on gender, including only females.

    Finally she has left out ethnic minorities …………

    ………… selecting her unity cabinet from just 20% of the population.

    How elitist can you get?

    Asked what her co-leader thought about the idea Lucas said she did not consult him.

  • Richard O'Neill 13th Aug '19 - 11:30pm

    Totally agree with the article. Really well put. I do wonder if she cleared it with the two leaders of her party, or if it is just a personal initiative.

    @Paul Barker
    I don’t think there can be any good spin from this. Not all publicity is good publicity. Jo Swinson should stay a thousand miles from publicity-seeking gimmicks like this (and I do hope that’s what it was, otherwise it comes across as arrogant and slightly delusional).

  • Of course it was a silly suggestion but it is quite fun how quickly a lot of male commenters can get steamed up so quickly about the mere suggestion that men might be left out.
    Where, for instance, is there passion that men are left out of working in front line dementia care on or close to the minimum wage (88% female workforce the last figures I saw). Those pesky women taking our jobs!

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Aug '19 - 12:51pm

    Agreed Munira. I wondered if Lucas was trying to appeal to the Women’s Equality Party. Many years ago I can remember thinking if women were in the positions then occupied by men, we would do a better job of ruling the world. Unfortunately this isn’t true. However, women do mostly have a more inclusive, more effective style of leadership than many men, so we need the talents of both. Sometimes this will mean all women teams just as all male teams have been in existence for so many years, sometimes much more mixed. At the moment women are still playing catch up which is perhaps demonstrated by the fact that 13 men have commented on this post. Nonconformist Radical May be a woman of course. So I’m trying to even things up a bit as well as saying I agree with you.

  • Munira Wilson 14th Aug '19 - 8:04pm

    @sue I also wondered if it was a play for the WEP votes but there aren’t exactly bucket loads of those going begging (although they did poll higher than Labour in our recent East Sheen by-election 😄).

  • Three years ago the book Liberal Leaders (with a chapter on all those who had ever been leader of the Liberal Party, Lib Dems or SDP) was published. Each of the 24 chapters about a man and written by a man. There must have been dozens of male only cabinets with entry barred to women. Certainly the Lib Dem group in parliament was all-male for a time. It is not prejudiced to point out that woeful history. Certainly men are in a noticeably vocal majority on this site and hardly go unrepresented!

  • Richard O'Neill 14th Aug '19 - 10:54pm

    @Ruth Bright

    On the flip side, the thing that bothers me about so many of these campaigns is that they focus on those in privileged positions. So an incredible amount is written about promoting woman politicians, Hollywood stars, sportswomen and their pay. Very little is written about helping woman struggling along at the bottom or even in the middle.

    This lazy gender nationalism helps nobody.

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