Letter: You don't need a woman MP to represent women's interests

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The Independent Online
From Ms Ellie Lee

Sir: Those women looking for a career break in politics will undoubtedly be very put out by the decision to declare all-women shortlists illegal (report, 10 January). But why should the rest of us? Why should we equate more Labour women in Parliament with social progress for women as a whole?

It seems these days that we are supposed to believe without question that just because an MP is a woman, she will somehow be better for women as a whole. A glance at the record of Margaret Thatcher should swiftly put paid to this theory. So should a cursory glance at the track record of current MPs on women's rights. As it happens, for example, the most consistent defenders of a woman's right to abortion in the current Parliament are men: Harry Cohen and Harry Barnes. For me, their political opinions are therefore more important than their gender.

Social progress for women cannot be reduced to getting a few more female MPs in sharp suits on the Labour benches. It is about policies and who actually does something about women's rights. Because of this, the decision to prevent more women-only shortlists is neither here nor there.


Ellie Lee


9 January