Labour London mayoral candidate selection: statement by Sophie Walker

Labour London mayoral candidate selection: statement by Sophie Walker

Let me start by congratulating Jeremy Corbyn as the new Leader and Tom Watson as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. It’s been interesting to watch the campaign unfold – especially in the way it has re-engaged many people with politics. It is very disappointing, however that - following the announcement of Sadiq Khan as the Labour mayoral candidate yesterday - the Labour party has again selected men to its top posts.

This was a contest where women made up five of the nine candidates for the two roles - a majority, for the first time ever. The Labour party thus had multiple possible combinations of leader and deputy leader that involved at least one woman. 

That it failed despite those odds to select a woman to one of the top two jobs reveals an institutional failure to see women as viable leaders or to value female participation at all levels of the party. 

British politics too rarely represents the true diversity of the British population – especially when it comes to gender. This has long needed to be addressed and an opportunity has been lost here to represent 51% of the population. 

Having women leaders is about more than symbolism. It's about making sure that women's experience informs decisions about how this country is run. Women’s workplace participation and their experience of crime and education, for example, is very different to that of men. Right now this experience is not adequately reflected. And when women do not see their lives reflected in politics - either in policies or because so many faces are male - it is not surprising that so many of them feel disengaged. At the last election, women in the UK made up 9m out of the 15m people in the population who did not vote.

The best guarantee of progress for women’s rights is having more women elected as leaders, MPs, MEPs and councillors. Right now, women make up only a third of MPs in the House of Commons. The figures for representation in local government are as bad: male councillors across all parties total 68%. 

A more diverse House of Commons and other legislative bodies would make better decisions and solve problems more effectively. It would also build and restore public faith in Parliament that is crucial to the future of our democracy.

Looking at the statistics, it is today even clearer than yesterday that Labour and the other older parties are incapable of making sustained progress on gender equality.

The Women’s Equality Party is here to break that log jam and provide the electorate with an alternative, capable of making real change in this area. 

Every day in the UK women face inequality at home, at work, in politics and in public life and the country as a whole, is poorer for this. Today is definitely the day to join the Women’s Equality Party.

Equality is better for everyone. 

You can join the Women’s Equality Party at