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UK: Labour MP questions use of women-only shortlists and discovers consequences of dissent from feminist line

Article here. Excerpt:

'It's been a bad week for me and my husband, Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Grimsby. He’s been bullied and abused by his colleagues in his own party for daring to discuss the future of all-women shortlists.

‘Sexist and misogynistic,’ said Lucy Powell, Shadow Children’s Minister. ‘It’s the old, cloth-eared, macho politics,’ growled Labour aristocrat Dame Tessa Jowell. And Hull East Labour MP Karl Turner joined the ladies, describing his neighbour and colleague as ‘self-serving, chauvinistic, antiquated’.

Austin has been battered all over the media since his article in last week’s Mail on Sunday where he gave his views on selecting many Labour candidates for next year’s Election from all-women shortlists (AWS). Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry MP weighed in with ‘suspect his wife Linda is not amused either, is she?’.

You’re right, Emily. I’m not.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been a feminist. And I have, from their inception before the 1997 Election, been an enthusiastic supporter of AWS. Of the 120 women who became MPs in 1997, 101 were Labour. They changed the face of Westminster for ever. I was so thrilled I wrote a book, Westminster Women.

However, there have been some disturbing trends of late: seats where only one or two women applied, seats fixed in advance for favoured daughters. AWS should not become the ‘old boy network’ in a skirt. Most concerning of all, it appears to have become untouchable. Any suggestion of change or modification is howled down and treated with derision.'


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