Sashaying cabinet ministers and thigh-high slits! What’s going on in Britain?

LONDON -- And Hillary Clinton thinks her wardrobe is scrutinized?

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron promoted several women ahead of the 2015 general election, saying that his new team better reflected modern society. The number of women who will attend cabinet meetings is now 8 of 33.

The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, didn't fail to notice -- or note -- the new female contingent, heralding the new arrivals with a critique of their clothing, hair, make-up, shoes and legs.

“Thigh-flashing Esther and the battle of the Downing St. Catwalk,” enthused the Daily Mail front page on Wednesday, referring to Esther McVey, the new employment minister.

“She sashayed into Downing Street, offering a glimpse of thigh-high slit skirt,” the tabloid said of McVey. Commenting on Amber Rudd, the new Energy Department minister, the paper said she looked “contemporary and work appropriate,” but her “trousers are a little tight.”

The focus on the appearance of the new cabinet additions prompted a cheeky rebuttal from an unlikely government official -- Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

It was a daring move for Clegg, photographed on his way to work at Downing Street.

Why would Clegg jump into this controversy? His poll numbers may give some indication. Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party is slumping, and his personal approval ratings are abysmal. According to the latest figures from YouGov, a polling agency, Clegg’s personal approval rating of -59 is lower than the Conservative Party leader David Cameron’s at -11, and the Labor Party leader Ed Miliband’s at -43.

The Twitterati have for the most part given him a thumbs up. At the time of writing, 81 percent of Guardian readers in a snap poll said Clegg's tweet is the best thing he has done in office.

Not to be outdone by Clegg’s parody, the New Statesman on Wednesday posted its guide to the “Kings of the Downing Street catwalk.” Here's its take on former Britsh foreign secretary:

“William Hague keeps it simple in a navy suit, flashing a little rugged hand, the sunlight glistening on the dewy skin of his daringly nude scalp.”

And what about other gentlemen of the government?

"Michael Gove wore a suit. Philip Hammond wore a suit. Daringly, Michael Fallon wore a suit. All the men wore suits."

Karla Adam is a reporter in the Washington Post’s London bureau. Before joining the Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London for the New York Times and People magazine.
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