Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blair's Cabinet Includes 5 Women, a Homosexual

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blair's Cabinet Includes 5 Women, a Homosexual

Article excerpt

British Prime Minister Tony Blair finished his major appointments Saturday, naming a Cabinet of 22 officials that includes a record five women, one avowed homosexual and the nation's first blind minister.

Among the women, Marjorie "Mo" Mowlam was named Northern Ireland secretary and flew straight to Belfast for her first political meetings. She faces a tough task to rescue a stalled process to bring peace to the British-ruled province and find a solution to a long sectarian conflict.

Outspoken left-winger Clare Short, who favored legalizing marijuana, was rewarded with a seat at the Cabinet table as secretary for international development. "It is good news for democracy because women in the country will see women in Parliament," said Labor lawmaker Harriet Harman, who was appointed to the Cabinet on Saturday as head of social security. "It will drive to the forefront of the political agenda a whole range of issues, like child care, like opportunities for women at work, the balance between work and home," she said. The homosexual minister, Chris Smith, became heritage secretary, and the blind official, David Blunkett, became education and employment secretary. Blair's announcement of his Cabinet appointments carefully balanced right- and left-wingers. Other women named were Trade Secretary Margaret Beckett and Ann Taylor as leader of the House of Commons (lower house), a key parliamentary job. The sober reality of government contrasted with the euphoria that greeted Blair's victory in Thursday's election. Crowds dizzy with joy at Labor's biggest election victory cheered and sang as Blair arrived at 10 Downing Street, the prime ministerial residence, Friday with his family. Blair's young family - his daughter, Kathryn, is 9 and his sons Nicky and Euan, 11 and 13 - grappled Saturday with the problem of where to live after their father's stunning victory. Aides said Blair and his wife, Cherie, had ruled out living above the Downing Street office because the apartment quarters were too small for the children. They now are looking at the larger unit next door at 11 Downing Street, above the house that is traditionally occupied by the finance minister. …

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