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Monday, August 18, 2014

Labour MP leads the backlash against all-women shortlists

Although the MP for Great Grimsby has never been shy of speaking his mind before there is a certain freedom in knowing that you will not need to seek selection or election once more, and Austin Mitchell takes full advantage of it in this piece for the Times.

If Cynon Valley Labour Party are any measure, together with Labour activists I have discussed this with, Mr. Mitchell speaks for many in his party when he warns of the damage being done to the party by “feminisation”, which he says is making parliament boring and insular, and leaving the left less ready to deal with “Tory hooligans”.

The MP succeeds in hitting a raw nerve when he claims that Labour’s “preoccupation” with all-women shortlists is conveniently forgotten when “seats (are) wanted for the scions of our great dynasties — the Kinnocks, the Straws, the Benns, the Blairs”.

The former television presenter warned that this would make it harder for Labour if it were returned to office: “The left will be even smaller but the party more manageable and reasonable, for apart from obsessive feminism, women MPs are more amenable and leadable and less objectionable. But it might not make us tougher.

“If Labour wins in 2015, how a family-friendly, gentler party, less prepared for all-night shenanigans of the parliamentary kind, will face up to Tory hooligans who feel they’ve been unjustly deprived of a power that’s their due is a more worrying matter.”

My only comment on this is if Austin Mitchell believes female politicians are more amenable and leadable, then he has not met the ones I work with, all of whom are as resilient, as independently-minded, vocal and as prepared to stand up for what they believe in defiance of the party line as their male colleagues.

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