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  • The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.

    The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 September 2015

The new Labour leader dismissed suggestions that he had passed over women for the “top jobs.”

The newly elected leader of the British opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has announced his “unifying, dynamic, inclusive” shadow cabinet, which, for the first time ever for Labour, is majority women.

Sixteen women, including Heidi Alexander as shadow health minister, Lucy Powell as shadow education minister and Seema Malhotra as shadow treasury minister, join 15 men, including leadership contender Andy Burnham as shadow interior minister and veteran Labour official Hilary Benn as shadow foreign minister.

The “shadow cabinet” is a term used in the U.K. to refer to the members of the main opposition party who specialize in each ministry area to hold their ruling counterparts to account. Shadow ministers or “secretaries,” as they are know in the U.K., would expect to continue their roles in a ruling cabinet, were their party elected to power.

Announcing the new appointments, Corbyn also explained how he had created a new cabinet ministry for mental health.

“We have delivered a unifying, dynamic, inclusive new shadow cabinet which for the first time ever has a majority of women. I am delighted that we have established a shadow cabinet position for mental health which is a matter I have long been interested in … The shadow cabinet is a strong combination of change and continuity that will now come together to hold this government to account, starting today with this pernicious trade union bill,” he said.

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However, the new leader has been forced to respond to critics who saying the “top four” jobs, of shadow leader, finance minister, interior minister and foreign minister, have gone to men, insisting that it is time to “redefine” which jobs are considered most important.

"The so-called ‘great offices of state’ as defined in the 19th century reflect an era before women or workers even had the vote, and before Labour had radically changed the state," he said.

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The popular anti-war and Latin America activist also faced some flack for appointing hardline left-wing Member of Parliament John McDonnell as shadow finance minister.

"I would swim through vomit to vote against this bill. And listening to some of the nauseating speeches tonight, I might have to."Labour backbencher John McDonnell opposing the government's proposed welfare bill yesterday.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, 21 July 2015
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