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."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor