This is a good week for Labour women – but the party can and must do more

October 8, 2013 8:23 am

I’m enormously proud of my Party – the Labour shadow cabinet now has 44% women compared to a Tory Cabinet which still has only 4 women.  In this week’s reshuffle Ed Miliband had able women to promote and he did. David Cameron had fewer able women to promote and failed to send out a message to the public and the next generation of Tory women by promoting some who could have served in the Cabinet.

I won’t even start on the Lib Dems.

Rachel Reeves is serious and clever and a good choice for Work and Pensions.  The DWP is a fiendishly complex department where IDS has clearly demonstrated that having a good reform headline isn’t enough to deliver change.

Gloria de Piero ranks alongside Caroline Flint as a great communicator.  Caroline’s analysis about how to win in the South, her description of how to target Aldi Mum and her work on the energy package announced at conference have not received sufficient praise and recognition.  Gloria has done good work putting tackling Anti Social Behaviour back in the news for Labour again.  She is a good promotion to the Shadow Cabinet.

Emma Reynolds, although not a full member of Cabinet, has a key role in the Housing brief.  Other women in Shadow roles have been some of the hardest working and most effective and I’m glad they’re getting the promotion and the recognition they deserve.

However, this progress has not happened by accident and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.  It is All Women Shortlists and pressure to ensure equal numbers in the Shadow Cabinet which provided Ed with the good women to choose from for his team.  As recently as 2010, we fought a General Election with only 4 women as full Cabinet Ministers.  The televised debates may have focussed attention on the top 3 men, but there was still a pitiful lack of Labour women at the front of our campaign.

And yesterday I felt a frisson of concern at the appointment of Douglas Alexander, Michael Dugher, Iain McNicol and Spencer Livermore as the heart of our 2015 campaign.  They will be an impressive and effective team, but there need to be women at the centre of our election strategy and planning too.

A recent article profiling the key people in Ed’s office showed a totally male team.  Only one woman was appointed to the senior executive team at Labour HQ and there have been times when the emails sent out to members about policy inititatives and the front page of the Labour news website have been all male.  There have been candidates selected on all male shortlists for the next election and too many people seem to think that an open selection is a male selection.  Wrong – All Women Shortlists are there to correct a longstanding and previously intractable inequality in our selection procedures.  The job’s not finished yet.

I know that the senior men in our Party care passionately about ensuring more equal gender representation in our politics.  I know they’re not deliberately discriminating against women.  I’m proud of the progress we’ve made.  But the price of equality is eternal vigilance.  Labour women – and many women in the country are watching you and expecting more.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Well, fingers crossed, let’s hope that the new generation of Labour women won’t be as crooked, self-serving, and right-wing as you and far too many of your peers were Jacqui. Eeek.

    • Amber_Star

      Shouldn’t we be hoping the same about Labour men? Or are women being measured to a higher standard, as we so often are?

      • John Ruddy

        Or is it just a chance to get in a cheap dig?

        • Danny

          A cheap, but justified, dig.

      • Monkey_Bach

        I’m having a dig at the brazenness of an article written about female politicians written by a woman who, by her own corrupt conduct while a Cabinet Minister herself in the last Labour government, managed to single-handedly tarnish the reputation of women politicians in Parliament than most other female (or male for that matter) politicians put together.

        Lest we forget:

        http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/92013/Shamed-Jacqui-Smith-must-quit-now/Shamed-Jacqui-Smith-must-quit-nowShamed-Jacqui-Smith-must-quit-nowShamed-Jacqui-Smith-must-quit-nowShamed-Jacqui-Smith-must-quit-now

        If I were a woman I wouldn’t want Jacqui Smith as my cheerleader.

        Nor welcome her congratulations or good wishes.

        Eeek.

        • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

          A bit harsh – that was more her jackass husband.

          • Monkey_Bach

            It was more about Ms. Smith’s bogus claim of £116,000 in expenses for the upkeep of her family home under MPs’ second-home allowance by pretending that a room in her sister’s house in London was her main residence that I actually had in mind, rather than her husband being entertained by lesbian pornography at the taxpayer’s expense.

            Which is mentioned in the article I cited if you read down a bit.

            Eeek.

        • John Ruddy

          I rather suspect most people here would argue that Mrs Thatcher did more to tarnish the reputation of women in parliament than some politician the majority of the country has never heard of.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Margaret Thatcher was a woman?! Eeek.

          • treborc1

            she was !!! oh for god sake..

    • Holly

      I also hope that the new intake are motivated by results and not just personal political gain.
      Women do not automatically ‘do a better job’ over their male counterparts, and the negative outcomes have a deeper more serious consequence for other women and their children.

      How many women have been in a position of authority in public services where the outcome has led to an abysmal failure to protect very vulnerable children from their parents, and the parents from becoming child killers.

      I am all for women in high end positions, but they MUST start getting better outcomes than we have today. Can women ‘emotionally’ detach from a situation enough to do some tough stuff?
      Not be fobbed off by the mothers reasons why the child can not be seen/not been seen by other services, or separating a child from it’s mother?
      We have all seen what can happen if we continue to let emotions cloud our duty.
      Discrimination by gender can do women and children a lot more damage than choosing the right candidate, whatever the gender.

      You see the bottom line is Labour policies have impacted on people just as much as Conservative policies, and so far neither have been perfect for everyone.
      And the party who professes absolute ‘fairness’ for everyone is peddling a myth.

      • Monkey_Bach

        The character of individual politicians, where they stand, and what they do when given the chance matters more to me than gender which in fact a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. Jacqui Smith, by any standard of common decency, comprehensively disgraced herself when in office, narrowly escaping criminal charges and a custodial sentence which would had led to her serving time in prison behind bars.

        It’s not about what is being said but about the person saying it.

        Eeek.

        • Holly

          I take it you are not a Jacqui Smith fan.

          Speaking as a female, I find it completely insulting that some folk think it okay to give a female a job to ‘fill a quota’.
          Personally, I would tell them to stick it if I was not chosen on my own merit/ability.
          Then again, there may be cases where the job was given to a female, on gender, but she did a cracking job….just can’t think of anyone at the moment, because the cat is trying it’s hardest to get through a closed door!…Got to go.

          • rekrab

            But then again Smith didn’t do a cracking job, in fact her constituents rapidly removed her come 2010.

            P.S. tell the cat if the doors closed to try the open window.

          • treborc1

            Not to sure I would if it was £67,000 even if it was made up.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    But the price of equality is eternal vigilance

    No it is not. The price is paid by the public who quite often get someone not very competent but who is of the “correct” gender.

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  • Andy

    Can the last male member of Labour please switch off the light….

    • treborc1

      womens work….

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