Parliament is yet again struggling with a toxic mix of privilege and patronage. To change that we want to send in the mums whose voices are currently underrepresented in our public life. That’s why I’m delighted to introduce our first cohort of 18 mothers who will receive a MotheRED grant to stand for selection to be a Labour MP.
Democracy demands everyone can secure a seat at the table, yet research shows that for many mums combining campaigning for office with caring for kids has proved financially impossible. The MotheRED fund was set up earlier this year to address this for Labour – putting money behind candidates to ensure childcare costs don’t stop talent from running for office.
The profile of those funded shows why this money matters. Whether it’s a single mother who was inspired to enter politics after her local Conservative MP patronised her at school, a former teacher who ran for council after her children’s teaching assistants faced fire-and-rehire tactics, or the first ever ethnic minority member of Wigan Council, these women come from all walks of life and represent all parts of our country- and look nothing like the Westminster at present.
This funding isn’t an endorsement for particular candidates in particular seats – indeed some of those chosen by our ambassadors for a grant will no doubt run against each other. It’s about ensuring a level playing field so that Constituency Labour Parties can truly be confident their choices aren’t restricted by such barriers to participation.
So too, the obstacles are not just financial. We require candidates to have knocked on hundreds of doors – seeing those who take time out for maternity leave or caring duties as slacking for not campaigning accordingly. The recent Labour Women’s Network call to keep the good stuff and use hybrid working methods reflects how organising meetings at bedtime all too often means parents are absent.
Bringing these mums into our selection process is the start of a conversation Labour needs to have on how to ensure every voice can be heard in our processes and our policies too – whether on childcare, Black maternal health or how best to tackle the cost of living crisis, healthcare reform and climate change. As these mums show, they bring a wide range of interests and expertise – they just also need the party to find ways to include them, rather than expecting them to either never see their children or wait until they are adults before standing.
Want to see more initiatives like this? Help us secure a second round of candidates and even more amazing mums to stand by donating to our gofundme page here.
The 18 candidates are below. Full details can be found at mothered.org.uk:
- Nazia Rehman is a proud mum of three, and Wigan Council’s first ethnic minority member.
- Hannah Bithell is a councillor in Leeds and has recently adopted two toddlers with her wife.
- Former teacher councillor Samantha Townsend is a mum of three from Bishop Auckland.
- Bella Sankey is an non-governmental organisation director who lives on the Sussex coast with her husband and two toddlers.
- Barnsley-born Marie Tidball is a mother of one, disability rights activist and local councillor.
- Lisa Banes is a mother of two, council tenant and community worker living in Sheffield.
- Nadine Peatfield is deputy leader of Derby Labour group and a mum of two.
- Jayne Kirkham is a single mum and Leader of the Labour group on Cornwall County Council.
- Beatrice Stern lives in East London and is mother to two young daughters.
- Miatta Fahnbulleh from London is Mum to three children, and is Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation.
- Rosa Bolger is a West Oxfordshire Councillor who is a single parent to two children.
- Rachel Blake, mother of two, has been a local councillor in London for eight years.
- Mum to two young children, Sarah Hall is cabinet member for children’s services on Warrington Council.
- Vicky Ashworth is a Labour/Cooperative Councillor in East London and proud single mother of three.
- Evelyn Akoto is a mother of three and is a local councillor and cabinet member in Southwark.
- Sally Ashby is a single mum to three girls, and is a town councillor in Wales.
- Anna-Joy Rickard has served for eight years as a councillor and is a mum of three kids.
- Jill Pidgeon lives in Glasgow with her son and has recently been elected to Glasgow City Council.