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Cameron’s cabinet: friends or foes?

LEADER OF THE PACK: Prime Minister David Cameron

WE DISSECT the PM’s new inner circle and sort the good from the bad and the downright ugly:

DAVID CAMERON – PRIME MINISTER

The PM describes himself as a “compassionate Conservative” and has vowed to tackle race inequality with his 20/20 vision. It includes a commitment to tackle black unemployment, increase apprenticeships and boost diversity in the police and army. He seems to get the message that he needs black communities on side.

Overall verdict: A tentative friend

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GEORGE OSBORNE – CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER

Osborne is a key player in Cameron’s inner circle and is responsible for handling the nation’s purse strings and will be making decisions about how severe cuts to public spending will be. (Hint: very!) The cuts will disproportionately impact black communities who rely on the public sector for services as well as employment. Osborne, who has a reported personal fortune of £3 million, has raised personal tax allowance to £10,600 and reformed Air Passenger Duty (APD) which unfairly impacted Caribbean holidaymakers.

Overall verdict: Still a foe

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THERESA MAY – HOME SECRETARY

The most senior woman in Government has spoken frankly about discriminatory policing practices and has led a reform of stop and search. She has been open to discussion around mental health and policing and has promised to find “meaningful solutions”. In the same breath, she has taken a tough stance on immigration from outside the European Union, oversaw the infamous ‘Go Home’ vans and recently said migrants rescued from the Mediterranean should be returned to their home countries and not granted asylum.

Overall verdict: Better as a friend

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MICHAEL GOVE – JUSTICE SECRETARY

Where to begin? Michael Gove angered the black community as education secretary when he threatened to remove historical figures including Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano from the history curriculum in favour of more ‘traditional’ British figures. His ruthless ambition to raise standards in schools has seen results, however, but lost him the support of teachers. He previously described the Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence as a witch hunt. Now he has the justice brief, be afraid. Scrapping the human rights act may be a top priority.

Overall verdict: Foe

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PHILLIP HAMMOND – FOREIGN SECRETARY

We already know what Baroness Warsi thought of Hammond’s leadership – she resigned because of “unease” about his approach to foreign policy. Hammond will play a key role in deciding Britain’s future in Europe but will also have to answer questions about Caricom’s landmark legal challenge over slavery reparations. The former defence secretary called on the Army to recruit more black personnel. However, in 2013 he voted to remove the duty on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Overall verdict: Foe

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NICKY MORGAN – EDUCATION SECRETARY

Morgan – who replaced Michael Gove – has big shoes to fill and so far has made little impact in the role. She is a devout Christian and voted against same sex marriage and controversially backed Nadine Dorries MP’s abortion reform plan, before becoming minister for women and equality. A relative newbie, she entered parliament in 2010 and rarely defies the party whip. She voted for an increase in tuition fees and to cut welfare benefits and financial support for young people in further education.

Verdict: A well-whipped foe

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PRITI PATEL – EMPLOYMENT MINISTER

Londoner Priti Patel is of Ugandan-Gujarati origin and was fast-tracked to parliament on a list of top candidates. The public affairs professional is a hardcore Conservative and co-authored a book called Britain Unchained in which British workers were criticised for being ‘idlers’. Patel does have the confidence to speak out against bigotry in her party, but voted very strongly against a jobs guarantee for long-term unemployed young people. Considering unemployment is a major issue among black youth, there could be clashes.

Verdict: Foe

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SAJID JAVID – BUSINESS SECRETARY

It’s bye bye, Vince Cable, and hello relative newcomer Sajid Javid tipped as a future PM. The former culture secretary, now responsible for business, innovation and skills, has already warned he will make significant changes to strike laws by raising the threshold of the percentage of union members who must support it for it to be legal. A high proportion of ethnic minorities work in the public sector and are more likely to suffer workplace discrimination. Unlike many of his Conservative colleagues he did not attend key votes to scrap the human rights act and an amendment to the immigration bill. The British Pakistani has spoken about experiencing racism as a youth which he said makes him empathetic to discrimination.

Verdict: A friend and foe

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IAIN DUNCAN-SMITH – SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WORK AND PENSIONS

THIS REAPPOINTMENT spells bad news for those living on the poverty line. IDS now has five years to continue working on his much-loathed universal credit reform. He plans to lower the benefits cap further, cut housing benefit for young people and increase the bedroom tax. Critics fear this could push more people to charities such as food banks in order to survive. IDS has a poor record on race and is anti-immigration.

Verdict: Straight-up foe

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GREG CLARK – SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Greg Clark is described as having a social conscience and is a supporter of young people with mental health problems. He was absent on a vote to scrap the Human Rights Act but did vote to scrap the duty on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to work to support the development of a society where people's ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination and there is respect for human rights. He did support cuts to local government finance and supported the increase in tuition fees. As higher education minister, he spoke about the need to get more BAME students involved in science.

Verdict: Friend for now

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JEREMY HUNT – HEALTH SECRETARY

From a very well-to-do background, Hunt attended Oxford alongside contemporaries including the PM and Boris Johnson. He abstained from a vote to repeal the Human Rights Act. Hunt, whose wife is Chinese and whose children are mixed race, has spoken out about racism calling it “un-British”. He is, however, responsible for implementing the growth of the private sector within the NHS leading to criticisms of privatisation by stealth. He has been in the role since 2012, and says his next mission is to improve healthcare for the elderly. He has a poor record on mental health and unsuccessfully tried to close Lewisham Hospital.

Verdict: More foe than friend

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