Labour's women problem

Labour's women problem

We are dismayed by the news that Angela Eagle MP has stepped aside as challenger to Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership

“It is enormously disappointing that Angela Eagle has so quickly been ousted from Labour’s leadership battle,” said WEP leader Sophie Walker. “In its 116 year history, and in spite of its claims to be the party of equality for all, Labour has never had a female leader. The speed with which the parliamentary party rallied behind a male candidate to take on Corbyn shows that Labour really does have a women problem.”

Walker also pointed to the shadow Cabinet appointments made by Corbyn last year, when he selected men to fill the most senior posts in spite of protests from members and supporters of the party.

“We have been disturbed by the level of sexist abuse aimed at Eagle since she announced her challenge to Corbyn earlier this month, although Labour is by no means the only party that needs to address the misogyny and inequality within its ranks,” said Walker. “Only five women have ever been in the running to lead Labour – at any point in its history – and all five were eliminated before their race got going.”

Walker also noted the missed opportunity to promote diversity that a lesbian leader would have brought the party, and the country. “It is perhaps telling that Owen Smith, who described himself as ‘normal’, has won the backing of his peers rather than an openly gay woman,” said Walker. “Labour has a proud history of pushing forward diversity, which is what makes this failure to promote gender equality in its leadership so disappointing.”

 

Published July 20, 2016