Austin Mitchell showed us why people hate politicians

20th August, 2014 9:40 am


Whilst I was out at the weekend campaigning in Hampstead & Kilburn to get the brilliant Tulip Sadiq elected Austin Mitchell picked up his poised pen and with one article brought shame to our PLP. Not only were his comments ageist and sexist – in the extreme – he also demonstrated complete contempt for both our party and his constituents. In doing so confirmed every disengaged voter’s fear about the politicians – that they’re only in it for themselves – and showed us exactly why we need All Women Shortlists and why politics needs to change.

To suggest that having more women in the PL P would mean the party was more concerned with “social, educational and family issues” and   “pre-occupied with the local rather than the international and small problems rather than big ideas” insults the intelligence of every woman MP and PPC out there and the party members who selected them. (As Kev Peel points out elsewhere he obviously hasn’t ever met PCCs like Sophy Garnder, selected last year as Labour’s candidate for Gloucester following a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.)   It is also insulting to families everywhere to suggest that our party shouldn’t be speaking out about the issues which are affecting so many of them.

Apparently “Women MPs are more amenable and leadable and less objectionable” – I’d like to see him try to tell that to Harriet Haman with a straight face and see her response.But it seems to be young women in particular that Austin has a problem with “oldies being replaced by amenable youngsters”. What makes them so ‘amenable’ and “less prepared for all-night shenanigans of the parliamentary kind” is a mystery… how very dare they ever agree with our leader and seek to bring Parliament into the 21st century!

For someone who has sat on the Labour benches for some 37 years Austin has a surprising lack of knowledge about our own policy and how our party works. Apparently “most selections are no AWS” – untrue. Party policy is to try to achieve a balance of AWS and non-AWS selections across the country. Apparently “not all of the 30 or so who are standing down wanted to go” – untrue. Every sitting MP was given the opportunity to state, very early on in the process, whether they wished to seek re-selection or not. Those choosing to step down are choosing to do so and at any rate the people who decide whether they serve another parliamentary term is not the Labour Party but the voters in their constituency.

But his contempt for those of us within his own party doesn’t stop there – apparently “the faceless functionaries on the Organisational Subcommittee of Labour’s National Executive, which makes the decision without knowing anything about local circumstances, are told they will accept one…It is duly imposed”. What utter tosh!

As a member of the NEC I have always considered it my responsibility to get to know what our members are thinking, what their hopes and concerns are so that I can accurately represent them at committee. And as an independent member of the NEC no one controls my vote at the NEC but the members I’m there to represent. That’s why I’ve used up my own annual leave from work and spent my own money (NEC reps don’t get any expenses for any of this work) to travel to over 119 CLPs across the country. I’ve been to speak to Great Grimsby CLP (Austin wasn’t able to make it the day I was there) –so I know something of the local circumstances and the activists and have a huge amount of respect for them.

Discussions on the application of AWS at the NEC Organisational Sub-committee look at the balance of AWSs across the region and the country, the electoral prospects of the seat, the history of selecting women in the past and, yes, the local circumstances. Many of us are lobbied prior to these meetings by CLPs with strong views and as a representative of those members I could not, and do not, ignore those representations. Our decisions are difficult – often impacting many groups of members who have different objectives and I know we cannot please everyone all the time – but we try to take a fair and balanced approach and deliberate at length.  I’ve argued before that we do need to take a more strategic and transparent approach to deciding which seats are allocated AWS so we can tackle the, false, accusation that an AWS = a ‘fixed’ seat and will continue to do so.

When Austin said that “Neither the PLP not the Commons are good places for oldies with any ambition” I hoped he was going to argue for other ways to contribute but his statement that “oldies don’t get parliamentary trips, interesting assignments or media appearances, so what’s the point of staying on” demonstrates the ‘ambition’ he talks about is for himself, not his constituents. What a sad way to end a 37 year career and what a slap in the face to the electorate. The people of Great Grimsby need a representative who is ambitious for them, who cares enough to fight the good fight and ensure their voice is heard in parliament.

In amongst his bucket of bile Austin did have two valid points; there are not enough women coming forward for selection (women still only make up 13% of all applicants in Open selections) and members should always be given a choice in selections. A view that says seats are “all sewn up” is both untrue and a deeply damaging self-fulfilling prophecy.

We do need fairer selection processes that provide a level playing field for candidates of different backgrounds and resources – I have been arguing for that in my role on the Collins Implementation committee and support spending caps in selections. But it’s also about providing pathways of development through the party – of the CLPs I’ve visited I’ve been struck by the fact that there are only about 10% of those that have a woman Chair. In the vast majority of cases the CLP Chair is a man and the CLP Secretary is a woman. I’ve asked the party to provide the demographic breakdown of CLP Office bearers across the country to see how much of an issue this is and to start a dialogue about how we develop more of our under-represented groups in the party and I have previously asked that we draw up procedures to ensure that Org Sub is informed and can take action to ensure that all selections are competitive. Until these things happen and we achieve a PLP that is truly representative of the people AWSs are absolutely necessary.

But then what would I know, I am just a “faceless functionary”, apparently…

Johanna Baxter is a member of Labour’s NEC

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  • Andy

    If we need All women shortlists why didn’t the party chose a women at the last by- election?
    IF Labour policy (doctrine as its slowly becoming) is to get more women in it why did the party chose a white American male to run its campaigns?
    As the champaign socialist stood to be the Great Leader why didn’t the party chose her to do it?

    Simple questions deserve simple answers but don’t worry I don’t expect the feministas to answer them….

  • Gary P

    My worry with all women shortlists is that we may lose sight of the objective of making Politics more representative for the British People. What use is increasing the number of Women MPs if many of those MPs are from a privileged background. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use AWS or that we should block out privileged people who share labours values… Simply that not enough is being done to ensure representation of working classes in the Labour Party today.

    • Doug Smith

      My suspicion is that the emphasis on women is used as a device to parachute even more Progress clones in high office.

      The Party should be open to all sections of the population, not just the male and female Progress/Oxbridge/Westminster elites.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        ‘The Party should be open to all sections of the population, not just the male and female Progress/Oxbridge/Westminster elites.’

        Here’s what you wrote on the day of the Euro election:

        ‘feel that perhaps I should have voted UKIP’.

        So tell us Doug which party ‘should be open to all sections of the population, not just the male and female
        Progress/Oxbridge/Westminster elites’ – Labour or your new found pals in UKIP?

        • Doug Smith

          New Labour lost 5 million labour voters between ’97 and 2010, I’m one of them.

          The Labour Party no longer listens to, nor accommodates, ordinary people – it has become the possession of an out-of-touch, often incoherent elite.

          While, over many decades of voting, I’ve never voted for any party other than Labour I increasingly think that the Labour Party will only be brought to its senses when Labour voters register a protest vote.

          What’s your solution?

          • paulthorgan

            The solution is very simple, but Labour won’t do it.

            Instead of representing one set of vested interests in the form of the unions and advancing the provably lost cause of socialism, Labour should represent the consumer. There is no working class any more. Labour should stop pretending there is.

            At present all the parties represent some form of the side of supply of goods and services. Thus we are ripped of by commerce and the state sector. Labour should be the party of value for money state services and empowering the consumer of goods and services, regulating the private sector so they do not rip off the general public with increasingly obvious scams.

            Instead Labour represents the state-sector unions and in doing so they make it impossible for there to be proper reform and value for money. The fact that so many vulnerable patients needlessly died before their time after suffering neglect and abuse committed in heavily union-dominated workplaces shows that Labour does not actually care about ordinary people.

            Labour should be about lowering taxes so people can spend their own money. Instead it is about increasing the number bureaucrats on six-figure salaries and paying staff to work full time on union business.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Utter nonesense.

          • paulthorgan

            Yes. But only in your opinion.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            “Labour should represent the consumer”
            What on earth are you talking about ? Labour is not the poltical wing of “Which?” magazine.

          • VWharton

            That made me fall off my chair laughing! Brilliant! Where is Labour regarding slavery in this country, campaigning on zero hours contracts, the non representation of women despite being taxed and the poor performance by the police on gender based violence, especially in the media. There is plenty of work to be done to help the poor and dispossessed in this country who have no money to spend in the first place … let alone be represented purely by a party based on their right to consume! Jesus wept …

          • paulthorgan

            You deliberately misunderstand me. I did not state it was about the ‘right to consume’, it is actually about consumer rights.

            The causes you mention are mere windmills to tilt at.

            If Labour continue to campaign based on the aims of a coalition of communities and interests, it will be inherently hostile to anyone who does not belong to one of their special groups.

            The state and the private sector should deliver to the consumer quality goods and services at fair prices and be responsive when it fails to do so.

            At present our tax money is badly spent and the state sector is barely accountable, especially when hospitals abuse and neglect patients to death.

            The so-called party of the NHS should get a grip.

          • paulthorgan

            Labour should be. Instead it is the party of the state-sector unions whose members abused and neglected people to death in NHS hospitals in the UK for years. It should be the party of the patients and their families.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Do you genuinely believe what you write ?
            I presume not, otherwise your sanity is lacking.

          • paulthorgan

            You do not seem to have the mental capacity to make a counter-proposal.

            As a typical socialist, when confronted with concepts you personally agree with but which are in opposition to the ideology you associate yourself with you find yourself incapable of any expression apart from abuse.

            You need to free yourself from the muddles of socialist though and accept socialism is a morally bankrupt ideology that damages people’s lives.

            An example of this is the socialist-dominated Rotherham council, which found itself for ideological reasons unable to prevent the rape of thousands of girls under its protection.

            A vote for Labour makes the country unsafe for thousands of vulnerable girls.

            That is the nature of the party you support; rape abuse and neglect are not as important as being politically correct.

            You should be ashamed to be associated with a party that behaves in such a way. You are in effect supporting rape.

          • i_bid

            TL;DR:- Labour should be Tory.

          • paulthorgan

            Labour should be a people’s party instead of representing pressure groups for a socialist one-party state.

          • MikeHomfray

            This isn’t the Labour party. Why try and change what the party is – if you want a consumers party, start one

          • paulthorgan

            The last time such a party was started in the UK in 1983, Labour was wiped out and humiliated. It was the joke party in the 1980s until Blair cleaned it up.

            This time round there is no Blair. If Labour tries to play the pity card or merely becomes the platform for union-driven social bigotry it is rapidly becoming, it will fail.

          • Angela Sullivan

            Vulnerable patients will die “needlessly” in even greater quantities when care of the elderly is outsourced to the cheapest private companies.

          • paulthorgan

            So it’s okay that all these people were abused and neglected to death on Labour’s watch because it’ll be worse under the Tories. That’s your argument.

            I suppose it’s okay all those girls were raped in Labour-dominated Rotherham as well for a similar reason.

            What a despicable person you and Labour supporters like you are.

        • gunnerbear

          I have nothing in common with a white City Trader, a black woman QC, an Asian Surgeon, a female Consultant at KMPG….yet these are exactly the types of people all the parties want on board – and they have the contacts to ensure that they are seen as the ‘right sort’. I’ve more in common with a US steelworker, a French shipyard worker, a German coal miner than I have with a huge chunk of those working in the ‘white collar lands in the public and private sectors’ in the UK. At the top of the parties, the leaders are interchangeable in terms of background and outlook – Red Ed could happily lead the Blue-Red Tories and Ol’ Cast Iron could easily lead the Red-Blue Labourites with Nick the Slick being capable of fitting into the role of bag carrier for either of them.

    • paulthorgan

      This is largely because Labour is repelled by the traditional working class in this country. Remember that the bulk of support for the BNP comes from former Labour voters.

      • gunnerbear

        The ‘elite upper middle class candidates’ – men and women of any party, don’t ‘get’ the concerns of the ‘ordinary voter’. The candidates simply see the HoC as another white collar profession.

        • paulthorgan

          That is pure social bigotry or, in another word, socialism.

          The only people who go on about class are Dennis Skinner wannabes.

          • gunnerbear

            Eh? What are you on about – I was pointing out that class per se has nothing to do with it – it’s that people from the white collar professions i.e. upper middle class – now see the HoC as just another profession – like the law, medicine, accountancy etc. and the parties like picking those people – because those sorts of candidates are ‘mirrors’ of the people already in the HoC.

          • ColinAdkins

            So to challenge the class system in this country is bigotry or is it uncomfortable for you personally and you would prefer we did not mention it in case people start realising the need for real reform?

          • paulthorgan


  • Jack Fate

    I always thought Mitchell was an unimpressive MP. He should just go quietly now he has retired from a career of parliamentary mediorcity
    Good response by Johanna

    • reformist lickspittle

      The voters in Grimsby showed what they thought of his “priorities” in 2010, by nearly voting in a Tory MP for the first time since the 1930s.

      His neglect of the seat is one of the factors that has made UKIP a force there.

      He was once OK tbf, but stayed on *far* too long. Good riddance.

  • swatnan

    Exactly! it goes down to how MPs are selected. If they land a safe cushy seat like Hull or Cardiff or Bolsover, they’re in for life. And they get into that mentallity that they’ve got it made, and the salary will bre coming in for life.
    We need to go towards a system that is an Open Primary so that not just members but also supporters an those vaguely aligned to Labour have a say, and not a bunch of 30 politically motived nerds sitting in a smoke filled room. Openness and Transparency is what I joined the Labour Party for. And if there are people esconced in safe seats they need close monitoring and every now and again turfed out by the Party, so that we get a good turn over of opinion. Its healthy for the Party in the long run and keeps it active and in touch with movemnets in society.

  • Gordon Stewart

    no you are not a faceless functionary, you are another bent career politician on the take

    • EmmaBurnell

      Except that Johanna has made it very clear in this article that not only does she not receive any money for what she does, she in fact pays out from her own pocket (and uses up her leave from her job) to make sure she visits members all over the country.

      But don’t let the facts get in the way of being a wally on the internet.

  • the baracus

    How did Jack Dromey get selected for an All Women shortlist constituency? Was Mrs Dromey behind it all? The only way to fix this is not by top down rules, but by open primaries – that is the only way to ensure representative candidates.

    • FMcGonigal

      There was obviously not an AWS in Birmingham Erdington, no reason for an AWS and no local demand for an AWS. It was never an ‘AWS constituency’. As it happens there were four men and no women on the shortlist. But you are right – open primaries would be a better way to ensure fair representation.

      • the baracus

        Clearly there was not a AWS imposed after Mrs Dromey vetoed it.

        • FMcGonigal

          Your point is valid – if we do have AWSs it opens up questions about which constituencies will have them, who decides and by what criteria. There will always be suspicion that AWS or non-AWS are being used to favour (or block) particular candidates.
          However I believe Dromey is genuinely popular (I am biased as he is my MP!)

          • the baracus

            Fine – if he were genuinely popular then an open primary would be have worked – however he cannot get away from a sense of nepotism that will surround him due to the clear influence from his wife, who happens to be the deputy leader of the party. Is that fair democracy or jobs for the boys?

          • FMcGonigal

            Agreed , the shortlisting was certainly NOT “fair democracy” which taints the whole process even though he did win the selection and then the election. Each stage need to be made as open and transparent as possible.

          • gunnerbear

            Yeah…he was so popular the entire Labour Machine had to swing into action to get him a seat….anywhere.

      • gunnerbear

        C’mon, Mr. Harriet Harmen was crowbarred in to a safe seat.

    • Ben Cobley

      The bullying of Austin Mitchell shows once more where hegemony
      lies in Labour:

      • gunnerbear

        BC, For me personally, it doesn’t matter about AWS or not because the parties still crowbar in the candidates that the leaderships are happiest dealing with i.e. nice, well spoken, nice educated, professional types – it’s irrelevant whether the candidate is a man or woman when they are capable of fitting into either party.

        • Ben Cobley

          I don’t think that’s really true, and nor can it be unless candidates are vetted centrally to death, which they are not. AWS reduce the size of the potential field and greatly increase the potential for fixing because some people, like on the Org Sub committee, have powers and access over which CLPs get AWS, and in practical terms they are often going to be associated with people who are going for selection. Certainly the one AWS selection I was involved in was a complete disgrace – only two bothered to turn up and make their case, and one of these was so longwinded and incoherent they were barely credible – so the previous winner got in by default. Reflecting on that was what made me start looking into this stuff more closely and to stop taking things on trust so much.

          • treborc1

            We made a choice of two people the third choice came from the labour party, our choices were not even able to get past the NEC and in came the labour party choice.

            We all know it happens the sad thing not enough people are willing to stand up and say no this will not happen.

          • VWharton

            And so what is your solution to getting half the country’s population fairly represented BC? I have been given a vote but have no one that represents human rights for women and children to vote for. Having been raped by five men as a child and having just had to remove my daughter from her primary school aged six for sexual assault and four months of gender violence on her, I can tell you that there is precious little One Nation in this country. I have suffered male supremacy violence from two exes plus witnessed it on my child and then seen same attitudes in the police – hence why all the departments that deal with gendered attacks on women, be they rape or DV, are constantly being reviewed, disbanded and then reinvestigated. Women pay taxes for a government that does not represent their rights as humans equally and for a law enforcement and justice service that looks away every time they suffer honour/domestic/sexual violence, which is all male supremacy driven. We have a male media that refers to us as whores, sluts and gashes amongst other things and portrays rape victims, both children and adult, as whores that are deserving of attack. The Little England you live in is a world away from the country me and my daughter live in where you cannot even trust your own male family members not to lie, rip you off and beat you up for challenging them on stealing large sums of money from you or starting malicious gossip against you to distract attention from the fact these men are abusing your human rights not to be demeaned, attacked etc on the basis of gender. Get off your privilege and see how the other half lives in your glorious One Nation and you’ll see our biggest freedom is to have gendered hate speech yelled at us by a bunch of porn inspired psychos who now patrol our lives and choices.

  • Weygand

    The policy of all women shortlists simply replaces one form of indirect gender discrimination with another direct form of it.
    It is immoral and illogical – like saying two wrongs make a right.
    The aim of feminism should be to make society gender-blind rather than to reinforce gender as an issue

    • swatnan

      AWS, and ABAMES, is an excellent way of readdressing the inherent biases in society. its positive action.

      • ColinAdkins

        Swatnan how should we address the inherent biases in favour of Oxbridge types (25% of MPs from institutions which educate less than 0.01% of the voting age population)? Equal opportunities for Oxbridge graduates regardless of their gender or race?

        • swatnan

          Quotas. So, in Cabinet of 25, only 5 should be allowed from OxBridge. Unis like Manchester Birmingham Leeds Bristol and of course London should be well represented, as well as Poly Unis and Open Uni and people who’ve taken Corespondence Courses and a couple of persons with no paper qualifications at all. I’m convinced someone can come up with a formula.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            What madness. The Prime Minister should nominate the best people for the role, or if you are cynical, the best balance for the party that makes it united and so able to govern in the national interest. Quotas are discredited.

            There is nothing wrong in excellence, from wherever it is derived. There is something intelligent about a leader who can find it and harness it for the common purpose. He or she would also be intelligent to ignore those among the MPs who are stuck with that 1970s thinking.

          • ColinAdkins

            I tend to agree with Jaime below. My only point is that the products of Oxbridge are greatly overrated. As for the numbers I was hoping for something more radical achieved by making a conscious effort to reduce the number of Oxbridge graduates in Parliament say from the current 25% to just 1%. This may regale against their sense of entitlement but will produce better quality and will be more meritocratic. My main comment is that erstwhile advocates of social justice and diversity are silent on this issue. I think I know why.

  • agneau

    His appearance on TV last night was toe-curling. He appeared either drunk or not in possession of all his faculties. Perhaps he should have stayed in the 1950’s.

  • David Lindsay

    Oldies are being replaced by amenable youngsters who came of age politically in the post-socialist era of Brown and Blair, those sons of Thatcher who replaced social democracy with free market economics, euro-enthusiasm and Boy Scout wars.

    Now, I am the first to express alarm at how many of my vintage who supported, in particular, the Boy Scout wars have somehow managed to wind up on both sides in Parliament, since they were so very extremely untypical.

    But Mitchell is an old pro who has carefully constructed that sentence in order to make the point that free market economics, euro-enthusiasm (note that punctuation) and Boy Scout wars are all of a piece. And people who came of age politically during the collapse of all three of them are most certainly not amenable towards them.

    Those who are, are now on the way out of the Labour Party. When the votes were counted in 1997, Tony Blair was found to have increased by all of 0.7 per cent the commanding Labour poll lead on the day before John Smith had died.

    Good luck to those who will be seeking to provide a separate political home for the 0.7 per cent, at most, that was ever in favour of the replacement of social democracy with free market economics, euro-enthusiasm and Boy Scout wars.

    Or to however many such people there will still be, by then 20 years later. If there will still be any at all outside full-time politics.

  • paulthorgan

    Mr Mitchell was presumably speaking on the basis of his decades of experience as an MP.

    Johanna Baxter has never been an MP and is merely an evangelist for socialism preaching a pseudo-virtue that makes just her feel good about herself. It is a pity she is not more accommodating towards those of her own party that have a differing views based on what they have seen versus her rose-tinted beliefs.

    Bear in mind that for all her years in the government, Harriet Harman did not manage to get any actual action on Female Genital Mutilation. So much for real equality.

  • Robert_Crosby

    The sooner Mitchell is out to grass, the better. Sadly,he is guilty of believing the self-publlicity that he has generated over the years.

    I agree that AWSs are a crude instrument but I’m happy to support them unless and until someone can come up with a better alternative (it hasn’t happened so far). What does irritate me is when I see individual women in the Party almost displaying cynicism as they exploit these kind of measures to advance their personal interests but then just don’t fight hard enough to eradicate inequality (whether for women or other groups) once they themselves “get there”. They are very small in number but cause a lot of damage and disillusionment. We need to get better at dealing with them.

  • ColinAdkins

    I support all AWS but understand the cynicism of many. The chief beneficiaries appear to be aspirant white, middle class, Oxbridge educated women. They appear to use positive action measures as a ‘resource’ to advance their candidacy. If it is desirable that the PLP reflects wider society why do we just dwell on gender alone?

    Stella Creasy bested Mitchell last night on Newsnight referring to social justice. I turn her question that she put to Mitchell on her and ask is it socially acceptable in 2014 that two institutions responsible for educating less than 0.01% of population also have 25% of MPs in Parliament as well most of the top jobs in the civil service, judiciary, the media etc. Is it any wonder the freemasons are in decline when you can wear the old college scarf rather than roll up your trouser leg?
    The cynicism derives from the observation that arguing for positive action in favour of women is to the advantage of many aspirant candidates whilst taking action against the Oxbridge lodge probably isn’t and that is why we do not hear a squeak on this matter from the erstwhile advocates of greater diversity in Parliament.

    • gunnerbear

      “I support all AWS but understand the cynicism of many. The chief beneficiaries appear to be aspirant white, middle class, Oxbridge educated women. They appear to use positive action measures as a ‘resource’ to advance their candidacy.” Ice cold and brilliantly cynical.

    • gunnerbear

      AWS – white collar professional type female.Non AWS – white collar professional type male or female. The party leaderships are happy to have such candidates because they can relate to such candidates – can you imagine Red Ed or Ol’ Cast Iron having to deal with a chap or woman who’d been a steelworker and seen the damage the vast costs of green stupidity had done or a someone who had been a shipyard worker asking the question, “Hey, the foreigners hand out subsidies to their shipyards, why don’t you to protect our jobs…”

  • IAS2011

    Not true.
    The Voice of Voters – ‘ordinary’ hard working folk who are constantly failed by this undemocratic system – are still waiting to be harnessed through the media.
    MPs not having any Legal or Statutory Obligation to Represent anybody… and many times not doing so – as their representations remain untested for its Quality of work and achievements – sets the lowest benchmark for any role in society.
    Thus, paying MPs £67,000.00 a year for work that goes untested for its achievement – while politicians have no problem in setting targets for teachers, nurses… etc.
    Based on all of the above – and much more – our political system and politicians themselves remains a SHAMEFUL and a DISGRACEFUL position by those who have done NOTHING to improve the quality of our lives.
    GREAT work, if you can sleep at night!

  • Louise Baldock

    Bravo Johanna! Mitchell is totally out of order. Sounds exactly like Godfrey Bloom. I look forward to winning a seat in Parliament and continuing to be my usual questioning, challenging, outspoken self. And I am sick to the back teeth of moans about AWS. You only need to look at the stats for open selections to see they almost always choose a man.
    On a more positive note I was gobsmacked and thrilled to see women take 5 of the 6 NEC constituency places. Keep up the good work

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      “I forward to winning a seat in Parliament”

      Quite a sense of entitlement you have. And a lack of sensitivity to those who are disquieted by positive discrimination (having been a beneficiary yourself), which is a perfectly reasonable opinion for people to hold.

      • Louise Baldock

        Actually I always talk about ‘if’ but my supporters insist I am more positive. Mainly because of people like you who would denigrate our sterling efforts

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          A logical non-sequitur (as is your reply to Pound in Your Pocket).

          I make a comment about a sense of entitlement that is apparent in your answer, and observe that it is insensitive to some others. You reply with an assumption that I think your efforts should be denigrated. The two are not connected, nor is your assumption correct. I wish you luck in your efforts to become elected, but your supporters should be reined in. You have not crossed the line of victory yet.

          Perhaps you need more cool-headed supporters and better advice.

          • Louise Baldock

            All I may reasonably say in response is that we campaign every day in our efforts to reach every one of the 42000 households before the election and listen to what people say. I am most determined to reach as far and wide as I can and to pay attention to what I hear. My supporters and volunteers who accompany me are positive and enthusiastic and keen that we should be always be on the front foot. They don’t allow negative thinking. That doesn’t mean we take anything for granted I can assure you.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      How inconsistent ! Please compare your 1st paragraph (Labour sexist) , with your 2nd (labour not sexist). Surely the NEC elections show that AWS is no longer required.

      • Louise Baldock

        Oh how little you understand about the inner workings of political party s/elections. There is no money and barely any prestige attached to the hard slog of being an active NEC member. I should know. Like Johanna I was once an independent member. Used up 18th days of my annual leave serving the committee. Compare that with the interest in being a Parliamentary candidate. A few hundred thousand could apply, a few dozen do. The NEC elections are fought by those ultra committed to the party. A different grouping to those who would serve the public. Although a few do cross over.

        • rekrab

          So who represents the publics interests better?. The non paid committed member of the NEC or the paid parliamentarian?

          Seems to me, that this post could interpret a divisional party? some more committed than others? shouldn’t perspective parliamentarian candidates be committed to the public first and foremost regaurdless of pay?. kinda puts the careerist politicians in the mind.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          My point wasn’t about the appeal of being either an NEC member or a PPC, it was about gender bias in party elections. Surely the NEC election results show that there is no institutional bias in the labour party against female candidates. Members were voting on policy and not gender bias. Presumably your support for AWS is based on the belief that this bias does still exist. On that point I disagree and believe that Austin Haddock is right to say that AWS is no longer required. It could at least be replaced by balanced lists that would be less divisive.

          • MikeHomfray

            But as Louise has suggested – male candidates overwhelmingly win open selections

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I think the effort should be at the level below PPC selection in ensuring the pool of potential candidates is more gender balanced. That means encouraging more female participants rather than fast tracking the existing few to high positions using the AWS sledge-hammer. As said elsewhere many times AWS is the sticking-plaster over the wound and is used to cover for the lack of participation and democracy within the party. The equivalant would be to deny black people entry to university then fast track those that got through the net into high office so the stats looked good. It stinks.

    • Gary P

      There is a significant chunk of society. What UKIP like to call the ‘left behind.’ They are people who see our country being overly PC, people who see little value in positive discrimination and feel like that being working class and white are an oppressed minority in their own right. The facts do not necessarily tally but that doesn’t mean we can simply ignore this group.

      Many of these people are intelligent and the fact that national rags like the Sun and Daily Mail pay heed to this world view to sell papers should tell you our potentially powerful this group of voters are.

      They hear Nigel Farages ‘mild racism’ and rather than heap scorn on him, congratulate him on having the ball to say it like it is.

      I worry that our inability to reach these members of society, that our message is being lost amongst the crap from the rags. These were Labour Voters in 2010, very few of them consider themselves racist and simply sick of being marginalised.

      I’ve waffled on for more than I’d planned and hope that it makes sense.

      Good look in 2015, your and your teams hard work is going to be needed if we are going to see a Labour Government.

      • Louise Baldock

        Thanks Gary. I have spoken to many thousands on the doorstep in the last year and know there is disconnect. That’s why personally calling at every door is important to me. So they can tell me face to face what they think and we can talk about it. It doesn’t need to come through a media filter that way.

        As for comments about AWS producing oxbridge candidates; I went to our local poly for what it’s worth.

        • Gary P

          In all honesty I’ll be surprised if you don’t win in Stockton south, considering the margin of votes in 2010. But then 2015 is going to be incredibly unpredictable election with many of our core voters considering UKIP.

          I never said anything about AWS producing Oxbridge candidates, though I a lot of people see AWS as being a part of the same problem. Peoples perception of politics is just as damaging as the scandals themselves.

  • PoundInYourPocket

    Austin may be one of the old guard but he has been thoroughly beasted over this issue over the past few days, hardly being allowed to speak on Newsnight as he was brow-beaten by Reynolds. He has repeatedly said that he wants to see more women in politics , his point was that AWS has perhaps achieved its purpose and could now be laid aside. AWS has always been a heavy weapon to use, the irony in its application being the need to gain excemption from the equalities act in order to allow its very use. How socially democratic is that ? Austin’s question was simply; is this bludgen still necessary ? Or should we not lay it to one side and see if the number of female MPs continues to increase without it. Has the tipping point of sex discrimination in the party now been paased ? Given the recent NEC election results, presumably the answer is , Yes.

  • Daniel Speight

    Austin Mitchell showed us why people hate politicians

    Johanna if you believe the title of this post, and I realize the title may be editorial rather than yours, then I suspect you do not understand “the people” very well at all. It’s not characters like Austin Mitchell that make people turn their backs on politics and politicians, it’s the New Labour clones that do this job so well.

  • robertcp

    I do not agree with most of Mitchell’s comments but at least he is saying what he thinks. Some people are just too easily offended and want to ban any views that they disagree with. That might be why most modern politicians are so bland.


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