Tuesday 28 September 2010

More women joining Labour

40 per cent of the 35,000 people who have joined the Labour Party since May are women, the Fabian Fringe was told this evening.

Currently, only a third of Labour members are women, the same figure as in parliament. So the current trajectory, revealed by Fabian Women's Network Director Seema Malhotra, represents a significant filip.

Fellow panelist Fiona Mactaggart commented:
"I'm sure the reason more women are joining is because they can see a woman at the top of the Labour Party - and hasn't she done a good job."

Mactaggart and Malhotra were speaking at 'Where did all the women go?" alongside Bonnie Greer, Julie Mellor, Sunder Katwala and Caroline Flint.

Although great strides were made in women's representation during 13 years of Labour Government, Mactaggart said Labour "slid backwards...in a way that was shocking".
"We made some progress....[but] we have become more conservative in our way of addressing these issues. We are rowing back; we've got to stop rowing back and start rowing forward. We stopped pushing as hard as we previously did."

She criticised a male dominated Labour culture that saw the political correspondents' football match go on the party's conference grid this year but not the Women's Reception: "They don't care about 1500 women" .

The way Labour approached women in its policy making in government has now opened the door for the current government to "oppress women", said Mactaggart.

"We stopped seeing women as women and started only seeing them as mothers and it undermines the cause....Now in the name of being liberal and 'let's all be free', the government is in all sorts of areas pandering to an extreme libertarianism that will opress women."

Flint agreed:
"We need to talk about something other than motherhood. It conforms to a lot of stereotypes...

The coalition policy on anonymity for rape victims is a consequence of the lack of women in senior party positions"

Flint said lack of women in senior positions was clear in the Labour Government too. Responding to a question about her infamous "window-dressing" comments, she said that despite being Europe minister, during the European election campaign she was "never invited to attend cabinet. I didn't feel like I was contributing. We were not a cabinet of equals. I felt it was a superficial representation of women."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is just a teeny weeny bit patronising to assume that more females have joined the party because they want to be like Harriet Harman. I should imagine that, as tempting as it undoubtedly is for all females everywhere to want to emulate the pinnacle of authentic female empowerment as made manifest in the career and achievements of certain female Parliamentarians, still they might also have their eye on other things; like fighting the cuts that might affect their families, perhaps.

Just a hunch.