George Osborne and David Cameron
Cameron failed to give women full cabinet statusReuters

David Cameron's attempt to give his cabinet a younger, more female face has already come under attack after it emerged the vast majority of those women promoted will not be full members of the top team.

The reshuffle saw only two new full cabinet members, with a further eight described as "attending cabinet", which limits their role.

At the same time it has emerged that the new Tory leader in the Lords, Baroness Stowell, will not be a full cabinet member as her predecessor Lord Hill was and, as a result will receive a salary of £79,000 compared to his £101,000.

Hill has left his job after being chosen as the government's new European commissioner to serve under recently-confirmed president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Labour leader in the Lords Baroness Royall claimed the move was a "snub" to women and undermined the much-trumpeted "reshuffle for women".

It is also the case that there were 20 female Tory ministers before the reshuffle and a net increase of only two following the shakeup.

Shadow minister for women, Gloria De Piero, dismissed the initiative as a damp squib saying: "David Cameron made big claims about promoting women but as usual his actions don't match his words.

"It's clear the Tories still won't match the 44 per cent female representation of Labour's shadow cabinet under Ed Miliband."

There were also claims from Labour that the government was still packed with privately-educated ministers.

However, the average age of the cabinet has indeed dropped by 5 years to 47.

But, even as Labour was attacking the reshuffle, it was becoming clear that by far the most significant change was the creation of an election "team" of former foreign secretary William Hague and ex education secretary Michael Gove.

Gove was closely involved with Cameron and chancellor George Osborne over recent weeks in mapping out the dramatic shakeup, adding to the belief he was ready to move on from education into the new campaigning role.

Gove will become a regular feature on radio and TV and is seen by the government as a powerful communicator.

Labour, however, claim the public reaction to him has tended to be negative, even more than to Cameron and Osborne, although that may be because of his combative role at the education department.

Major reshuffles seldom end up being as they are initially spun and it may well be that this one, by far the most radical for years under any government, may yet prove to be far more about presentation for the general election than boosting female representation in key, powerful positions.