Labour MP Austin Mitchell: 'Women are weakening Parliament'

'More attractive body of candidates' will apparently be too gentle, apart from that 'obsessive feminism'

The “feminisation” of the Labour Party has meant older men are being replaced by “more amenable and leadable” women who are unable to focus on international issues, an MP has said.

Veteran MP Austin Mitchell, who has represented Great Grimsby since 1977, claimed his party was being weakened by all-women shortlists and growing numbers of women in an article for the Daily Mail.

He wrote that more female MPs would make the Commons "less exciting" and preoccupied with "family issues" and "small problems rather than big ideas".

“Whatever the state of Labour’s policies for the next election, there is little doubt that it will be fought by a younger, more attractive body of candidates,” he wrote.

“The parliamentary party is undergoing the biggest process of feminisation and rejuvenation embarked on since fabulous pink Camay soap promised to make us look a little lovelier each day.”

After announcing in April that he would not be standing at the next general election, the 79-year-old claimed ageism was “rampant” in the Labour Party and that many MPs over 60 were being pressured to stand down.

Many were being shifted into the House of Lords, Mr Mitchell said, dubbing it a “marvellous political retirement home”.

Ed Miliband accusing David Cameron of 'failing' women at PMQs last week Ed Miliband has championed his party's equality policies and accused David Cameron of 'failing women' at PMQs Complaining that Labour’s “pool of experience is being drained”, he claimed the rise of women would “feminise” party policies.

“Our new preoccupations will be social, educational and family issues, all brought to the fore by the feminisation of Labour through the obsession with All-Women’s Shortlists,” he wrote, calling the lists a “suspension of party democracy”.

Mr Mitchell added: “It cannot be denied that feminisation and youthification will make Parliament brighter, smarter and nicer.

“Yet the Commons will also be more preoccupied with the local rather than the international (not necessarily a bad thing) and small problems rather than big ideas and issues  (a very bad thing as it will be less exciting and lead to sixth-form essays read out word for cut-and-pasted word, replacing oratory).

“The Left will be even smaller but the party more manageable and reasonable, for apart from obsessive feminism, women MPs are more amenable and leadable and less objectionable.

“But it might not make us tougher.”

Labour introduced all women shortlists at its 1993 annual conference, when the House of Commons was composed of more than 90 per cent men.

The first lists lead to the selection of Jacqui Smith, who became the first British female Home Secretary.

Jacqui Smith was elected through an all-women shortlist in 1997 The suggestion that female politicians would weaken the party provoked outrage on Twitter.

Several Labour Party members distanced themselves from the MP's comments, with Linda Smith, an activist in Oxford, writing: “Today’s vile rant by Austin Mitchell is not anti AWS it's anti women. Sickened to be in same party as that man.”

Mr Mitchell is no stranger to Twitter rows, having sparked another furore in May when he compared Pfizer’s proposed takeover of AstraZeneca to rape.

He tweeted: “Cameron dare not stop Pfizer because he dare not offend the US in any way. Roll up rapists.”

Women's Minister Nicky Morgan described the tweet as “deeply offensive” but Mr Mitchell condemned an "aura of political correctness".

After Louise Mensch resigned as a Conservative MP in 2012, he tweeted: "A good wife doesn’t disagree with her master in public and a good little girl doesn’t lie about why she quit politics."

In response to criticism on social media, Mr Mitchell tweeted on Sunday: “Who's anti women? All my aunties were women!”

A spokesperson for the Labour Party repeated support for all-women shortlists but declined to comment on the “specifics” of his article.

He added: "Labour is working to increase the diversity and representativeness of Parliament and has a proud record of increasing the number of women and ethnic minority MPs."

Read more: Labour MP faces calls to be sacked after describing drugs company as 'rapists'
Louise Mensch 'good little girl' tweet was ironic, says MP Austin Mitchell
Voices: The Conservatives need all-women shortlists for 2015
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

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

Senior IT Support Engineer - Education Sector - Shepherd's Bush

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Engineer - Educati...

KS2 Teacher required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 teacher required ...

LSA

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: To work as part of the Le...

KS1 Float Teacher needed in the Vale

£100 - £110 per day + Travel scheme plus free professional trainnig: Randstad ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week