Jeremy Corbyn has signalled support for all-LGBT, all-black and all-disabled shortlists as a possible means of increasing minority groups’ representation in Parliament.
The Labour leader said Parliament had a duty to represent “the totality of our society” and that he had “some sympathy” for adapting the all-women shortlist process to other groups.
Asked why such exclusive shortlists for these groups did not currently exist, he said: “There have been ideas that that should be put forward. I have some sympathy with that, actually, and for ensuring there is a place on selection processes for people representing LGBT, Black, and disabled communities.
“Parliament at the end of the day has to be representative of the totality of our society, and it’s up to all of us, recognising that we’re ins a party political system, that our parties operate in a way that all those groups do end up with representation.
“I think you can deliver it without breaching the equality act by requiring them to be included in a shortlisting process.”
Mr Corbyn said all-women shortlists, which he has long supported, had first been branded “extremist” by their opponents but had been the most successful method for increasing women’s representation in Parliament.
“I’ve supported all-women’s shortlist from all the time I’ve been in the Labour Party,” he told a hearing of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee.
“I have to say it was extremely controversial when first promoted in the party in the early 1970s. I was accused of being a far-left extremist for promoting ideas like that – can you imagine such a thing?”
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The Labour leader said he believed all-women shortlists, which Labour has long used, were a “wholly good thing” for politics and had been key in driving increased representation.
Labour currently has 43 per cent women in its parliamentary party but Mr Corbyn has pledged to increase the level to at least 50 per cent.
Mr Corbyn also reiterated his pledge for Labour to achieve 50 per cent women’s representation at the general election.
He said he would talk to the party’s national executive committee about the possibility of introducing all-women shortlists for reselection after the boundary review “where we can”.
He however said because Labour candidates were chosen locally there was a “question of how far you can go in imposing things” from the party’s central leadership.Reuse content