OBV alumni Helen Grant promoted in reshuffle


OBV alumni Helen Grant was among the most eye-catching appointments in Theresa May’s new year reshuffle.

Helen was made vice-chair for communities in the Conservative Party, a title she shares with Rehman Chishti. Their brief will cover the race and diversity agenda.

The ministerial shake-up was badged as an opportunity to bring in more ethnic minorities and women into government, and it didn’t disappoint.

Helen’s promotion marks the latest stage in a career that has previously taken her from solicitor and junior judo champion to MP for the rock-solid blue seat of Maidstone to the first female sports minister.

Helen is an alumni for OBV MPs shadowing scheme, the first participant to make it into the Commons. She was followed onto the green benches by Marsha de Cordova and Tan Dhesi, who were elected for Labour in last years’ snap general election.

Helen is said to have the ear of the prime minister on matters of race equality. Mrs May has prioritised making progress on the issue, with publication of a government race disparity audit last year.

This was followed by an announcement that large companies should monitor the ethnicity pay gap.

Helen and Chrishti, Gillingham & Rainham MP, were not the only BME MPs given promotions in the latest reshuffle.

Ex-army officer James Cleverly, the MP for Braintree, becomes deputy party chairman.

Kemi Badenoch, who was returned as MP for Saffron Walden in last years’ election after serving as a London assembly member, has been put in charge of overseeing the selection of candidates for the 2020 election, and takes one of nine party vice-chair posts.

Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, was promoted from housing to minister for employment at the department for work and pensions.

Meanwhile, Sajid Javid, the only ethnic minority full member in the cabinet, gets a beefed-up portfolio with a brief to tackle the housing crisis. His new department has the word ‘housing’ added to communities and local government.

The changes make this government the most diverse yet, although there is still some way to go for ministers to reflect society.

ConservativeHome, the blog popular with grassroots Tories, labelled the reshuffle as a “massacre of middle aged men”.

Other headline grabbing appointments include 29-year-old Ben Bradley being made party vice-chair for young people, and Maria Caulfield vice-chair for women.

David Lidington, who is well thought of in Westminster, has the task of running the cabinet office, taking the reigns from Damian Green.

OBV’s Simon Woolley stated: "This is a great opportunity for all of these BME MP’s. In 2018 it’s time that this cohort of Ministers, more than ever become confident about tackling inequality particularly race inequality."