Nice suits, but are Blair's babes doing the business?

AN attack on the "gender apartheid" and "genitalia politics" of Labour's women-only shortlists yesterday provoked strong reaction from the ranks of the party's 101 women MPs.

Writing in the latest edition of Tribune, the Labour weekly, Ann Carlton said: "They are at it again - the whinger wing of Labour feminism, as confused as ever and wanting favours.

"Once, Labour men were so horridly sexist (allegedly) and Labour women so pathetic (allegedly) that only by women-only shortlists could the poor dears become MPs. Now with nearly half the Labour Party's members women, there are different demands. Now it is "constituency twinning" for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, with the often reluctant twin constituencies required to choose one man and one woman."

She claimed that voters and the vast majority of Labour Party members believed that ability, dedication and experience should determine a person's suitability to be a candidate - implying that was the basis on which male MPs were selected, and that women should be given no additional support. But Ms Carlton added the more damaging charge that the additional injection of women MPs at the last election - 121 out of 659 Members - had not made a blind bit of difference to the political scene.

"Before the last election," she said, "we were told that parliamentary selections based on genitalia politics would mean a transformation the House of Commons.

"Thanks to women-only shortlists, the Labour benches would be awash with brightly coloured women's suits, and those women MPs would stand up for women's issues in a way that male MPs had not done. We have seen the suits - very nice and quite expensive. The politics are no different."

She said that there had been no great rush of women to support lone parents or defend the disabled from Government attack, while several women MPs appeared to enjoy a good moan about the lack of creche facilities, or the burden and hours of parliamentary work.

But Ann Clwyd, the veteran Welsh MP, yesterday deplored the attack, pointing out that before she entered the House in 1984, there had been no Welsh women MPs for 34 years, and she was the only one right through to last year's General Election.

"They say we should get into the Commons on merit - like the men. If that were true, there would be dozens more women MPs," Ms Clwyd said.

Jane Griffiths, new Labour MP for Reading East, was also selected without an all-women shortlist. She said: "Why should it be assumed that women are going to make a particular kind of impact, as women? Some individuals will make a great impact, others will make less. She is just making false assumptions."

Caroline Flint, who was selected as Labour candidate for Don Valley without the benefit of all-women shortlist, said Ms Carlton was not living in the real worldand challenged the notion that the women had made no difference.

"Where's Ann Carlton been?" she asked. "A national childcare strategy, minimum wage legislation, one million after-school places, childcare tax credits, employment rights for part-time workers. The impact of women on Labour policy is staring us in the face."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
News
i100
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Lily James in ‘Cinderella’
film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss