No place for tokenism on political frontline

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How on earth can the Prime Minister justify keeping Maria Miller in office as Culture Secretary?

Ms Miller is embarrassed, to say the least, over an expenses irregularity in which she has claimed £90,000 for a house in which her parents were living.

Some MPs have gone to jail for less.

It would, of course, be too much to expect Ms Miller to resign from her post. That just does not appear to happen much these days.

So why is Cameron faltering on taking any action - could it be the “shortage” of women in ministerial posts in his administration?

If this is the case, then it is a dereliction of his duty. Cameron should give people ministerial posts on their merits, not on the grounds of the colour of their skin, their gender or their sexual orientation.

This is sexism and racism whatever else anyone might say. To call it “positive” discrimination is an insult.

James Naughtie, one of the presenters on the BBC Radio Four Today programme, has the right idea.

When some nitwit pointed out that there were no black people in the Today team, he simply replied: “Come off it. This is not sociological laboratory.” Good for him. He could not have made the point more effectively.

And surely, apart from any other considerations, Ms Miller is expendable.

Between now and next September the newspapers and air waves will be awash with stories about the referendum on Scottish independence.

There is no doubt the Prime Minister is getting worried that the UK-splitters, led by the wily Alex Salmond, appear to be getting the upper hand – for the moment, 

Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor, is himself a crafty old bird, but he is scarcely the cheer-leader that the Better Together campaign needs at its head.

Meanwhile, David Cameron is dragging his Cabinet to the North-East of Scotland to demonstrate how much he cares about the unity of the United Kingdom.

It certainly won’t be the last extravagant gesture, as the campaign hots up.