Letter: Labour's attempt to close the gender gap

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Sir: As the dust settles on the shadow cabinet elections, it is important to remember the purpose of a rule change which to the rest of the world is little more than a storm in a tea room.

The 1992 election showed clearly that there is a significant gender gap. Women are less inclined than men to vote Labour - it is as simple as that. If Labour is to close this gap, we must address the real concerns and aspirations of women at work and women at home. The rule change requiring Labour MPs to vote for four women (instead of three as they have for the last four years) is but one of several practical mechanisms that the Labour Party has introduced to increase the representation of women at all levels. In doing this we are following the successful example of our sister parties in Canada and Scandinavia.

It is being reported that some of our male colleagues strongly oppose the new requirement to cast four of their 18 votes for women. They previously had to cast only three. The rule change was passed by an overwhelming maority of the men and women of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The small number of male MPs who remain hostile to an increase in the representation of women should have a look at the world outside the Westminster bars.

Yours sincerely,

TESSA JOWELL

MP for Dulwich (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

22 October

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