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How father-friendly is the new UK Labour government Cabinet?

The new Government pledged in its manifesto to make paternity leave a Day 1 right within 100 days of the election, and to undertake a review of parental leave in its first year. But how father friendly is Sir Keir Starmer’s new Cabinet? 
men in the uk labour cabinet

Many of the key jobs in the new 'top team' are held by women - including Angela Rayner (Deputy PM and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government), Rachel Reeves (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Yvette Cooper (Home Secretary). All are mothers – as are most of the other female Cabinet members, including Bridget Phillipson (Secretary of State for Education) and Liz Kendall (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions).

 

But what of the 14 men in the new Labour government Cabinet? 

 

Eleven are fathers, and some have gone ‘on the record’ with views that show they have a clear understanding of the pressures today’s dads face. 

 

Days before last week’s election, the Tories attacked the soon-to-be-Prime Minister himself, over his pledge to keep Friday evenings free to spend time with his wife and two teenage children. When asked if he would still ringfence that time as PM, Sir Keir said:

 

“Yeah, and I want to. One, because I’m a dad and I love them. They’re my pride and joy and I don’t want to lose that time. Two, I don’t believe in the theory that you are a better decision maker if you don’t allow yourself the space to be a dad and to have fun for your kids.”

 

David Lammy, the new foreign secretary and a father-of-three, spent many years advocating for better policies on fatherhood. A former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood, he has argued the case for better parental leave for dads, as well as sharing his experience of being abandoned by his own father, and calling for better support for young dads.

 

And Jonathan Reynolds, the new Secretary of State for Business and Trade - who has overall responsibility for the Department in charge of paternity and parental leave policy - took his then-7-month-old baby into the House of Commons voting lobbies when this was first permitted, back in 2014.

 

Writing on his Facebook page at the time, Reynolds said the rule change had made it easier for MPs to balance their work and family lives:


"As with many jobs, balancing family life can be tricky for an MP, especially with Parliament regularly sitting until 10pm or beyond. When my older children were smaller, it was prohibited to carry babes in arms with you to vote.
There have been occasions in the past when I have unavoidably or urgently needed to have one or more of my children with me, and before this change in the rules I had to hand a young (occasionally crying!) baby to a colleague for several minutes in order to vote.
I hope that by bringing Seth with me yesterday I helped normalise the concept of politics and parenting not being mutually exclusive (often thought of solely as a women's issue).”

He also wrote a blog calling for men in Westminster to talk about why being a dad is a big part of their life.


Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has also spoken about the need for everyone, including politicians, to have a healthy work-life balance. And in his book 'Go Big', Ed Miliband, former Labour leader and now Energy Secretary, argued the case for dads receiving three months' use-it-or-lose-it parental leave.


 

Dads in the Cabinet 

Keir Starmer

new uk labour prime minister

Prime Minister

David Lammy

new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Pat McFadden

new uk labour government cabinet

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Ed Miliband

new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Energy Security & Net Zero

John Healey

new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Defence

2 children

3 children

2 children

2 children

1 child

Jonathan Reynolds

new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Business & Trade

Alan Campbell


new uk labour government cabinet

Chief Whip

Darren Jones


new uk labour government cabinet

Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Ian Murray


new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Scotland

Hilary Benn


new uk labour government cabinet

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

4 children

2 children

3 children

1 child

4 children

Richard Hermer, the Attorney General, is also a father. There are three male Cabinet members who are not fathers:

  • Wes Streeting - Secretary of State for Health & Social Care

  • Peter Kyle - Secretary of State for Science, Innovation & Technology

  • Steve Reed - Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs


 

Making our voice heard

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting all the key ministers with responsibility for issues affecting fathers, to remind them how important fathers should be in their policymaking. You can help, by writing to your MP about our 6 weeks for dads campaign, and sharing your story with us. Find out more here.


Become an FI supporter

With your help, we can continue advocating for a father-inclusive culture, bringing our research to a wider audience and pushing this policy debate up the list of priorities to make the UK a leading nation, not a follower, when it comes to family life. Join the movement and become a Fatherhood Institute supporter today.


 

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