Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Labour Conference: Blair's babes are 'blinded by love'

FAY WELDON, one of Britain's most prominent feminist writers, has accused New Labour's female MPs of letting their adoration of Tony Blair get in the way of their jobs, writes Sophie Goodchild.

The author said she had hoped when the 101 women MPs went into the Commons in 1997 there would be some "great wild sweep of social change", but that had not happened.

Writing in the New Statesman, she said these MPs had done little to promote women's rights and issues. "What did you do? You did what women always do: you fell in love. En masse, you fell in love with Tony Blair," she writes. "It's yes Tony, no Tony, smile at me, Tony. How wise and wonderful and powerful you are, Tony. Open your pretty mouths and a soundbite learnt by heart flows out."

Ms Weldon added to her attack on BBC Radio 4's Today programme by saying that large numbers of the new intake were all too similar. "I think about 90 of the Blair babes speak with one voice and when 90 women speak with one voice you wonder what is going on."

However, Labour MP for Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper, yesterday hit back, defending the record of her female colleagues.

"The big, important thing is to judge by results," Ms Cooper said.

"I asked a Parliamentary question a couple of months ago about the impact of all of the budgets since the election on women and men separately. The answer that came back was that women have benefited by over twice as much as men.

"On average, women were pounds 275 a year better off compared to pounds 120 a year for men."