The PM is unlikely to fulfil his promise on the number of women in office but his choice has been too limited
The first time she heard it, she let it pass. But when a senior female parlia-mentarian heard the Prime Minister repeat the claim that “around 50” of his MPs are women, she sent him a stern message. “You’ve got to stop exaggerating. You’re going to get caught out,” she told him.
In fact, David Cameron was only inflating the number by two. But the female MP in question is not to be trifled with — and when it comes to the Conservative Party and women, numbers sometimes seem to be everything.
Any day now David Cameron will face an ugly choice: between promoting a grossly disproportionate number of his female backbenchers to make a point or refusing to allow gender to play any part in his selection for ministerial office. In this horrible dilemma, 13 is the magic number.
Against the backdrop of claims that Cameron has a “women problem” the final reshuffle before the General Election has particular symbolic significance. Given the option, he will keep putting it off — reshuffles always create more enemies than friends — but time is running out to decide the line-up to face Ed Miliband and his shadow team in the ultimate test.