Amidst the criticism recently heaped on Gordon Brown by female ministers, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt has claimed that gay rights and the women’s liberation movement passed the prime minister by.

But contrary to these accusations, since becoming prime minister, Brown has embraced the gay community. Earlier this year, he hosted the first Downing Street reception for LGBT History Month and also welcomed the London Pride organisers as well as PinkNews.co.uk, Attitude and the Gay Times to an intimate reception before this year’s Pride.

His wife Sarah marched alongside campaigners such as Ben Summerskill and Peter Tatchell in the London Pride parade through central London, held earlier this month.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday for a programme titled ‘Gordon’s Women’, Hewitt said Brown’s inner circle was “really rather laddish in culture”.

She added: “He’s Presbyterian, he’s very, very serious, and intellectual in his politics and his whole approach to life.

“He was never part of the 1960s and 70s social revolution – the women’s movement, gay rights, diversity, it’s just not really part of who he is.”

Former minister for Europe Caroline Flint, who was interviewed by PinkNews.co.uk shortly before she resigned, told the programme female ministers were “picked out” for hostile briefings.

In her resignation letter, Flint had claimed women in Brown’s cabinet were purely “window dressing”.

Another minister, Jane Kennedy, who stood down in June, agreed with suggestions that Brown was behaving like a “mafia don” who did not pull the trigger, but knew who would be next to go.

However, some female politicians on the show said they did have support for the prime minister.

Third sector minister Angela Smith said: “I have never, ever felt held back by the Labour Party because I am a woman.”