The Women's Equality Party would throw women like me under the bus – a vote for them is a vote for the Tories

Seats targeted by the Women's Equality Party are currently held by women MPs for Labour – what's feminist about that?

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The Independent Online

If the last few elections have taught us anything, it's that when the progressive vote is split, powerful right-wing interests prevail. Last week the Women's Equality Party announced four more candidates to run in the general election. The candidates are running in Labour seats Hornsey and Wood Green, Vauxhall, and Penarth, two of which are held by women. Not only are they looking to unseat women – something which runs entirely in contrary to the bulk of their (considerably lacking) manifesto – but they are taking votes away from Labour, which in this election is the only hope we have for mounting a credible challenge to this Government.   

In return for a slight uplift in their profile, the party that claims to be “for women” would risk unseating Labour women, and in the process throw low income women like me under the bus by subjecting us to another four years of Conservative austerity.

The Conservatives have never been so popular and so protected from criticism. We've seen an unprecedented attack on democracy under the Tories over the last few years: so far they've brought us the “gagging law”, the “Snoopers’ Charter”, and last year they overturned a democratic decision made by Lancashire council to oppose fracking. Currently, our unelected leader is refusing to engage with the public or the media by locking out local journalists when visiting the electorate and staying away from televised debates.

This is all before we get to their shameful record on gender equality. Under Conservative austerity, women have suffered the most: we've seen the gutting of the welfare state which women rely on overwhelmingly, we've seen the loss of women’s refuges, and we’ve seen the introduction of the “rape clause” which requires women to “prove” they were raped if they need benefits for a third child.

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The polls show that a huge percentage of the population agree with Jeremy Corbyn's policies, but are all too often presented with a  media biased against him. The last thing Labour needs, then, is another supposedly progressive party splitting the already fractured vote.  

Jeremy Corbyn has been supporting women’s equality and rights long before it was fashionable to do so, which is not only reflected in his voting record but in Labour policies. The man has consistently been on the right side of history. If the Women’s Equality Party truly cared about equality, then they would be out on the streets with the rest of us fighting to get Labour's message heard, and more importantly ensuring that the sitting Labour women continue to keep their majority.  

The WEP are not the loveable underdogs of this election; they are women who care about a certain kind of equality, which for those of us suffering the most under the Conservatives will never be in reach in our lifetimes if the current Government is granted another term. Privatised public services priced out of our reach, including healthcare, a lifetime of crippling student debt, no welfare support, and no pension: these are the realities we face. Yes, WEP may increase their share of the vote this election, but at what cost?

Under the current system of first-past-the-post, a vote for WEP is a vote for the Conservatives. Being able to carefully consider which party you squander your progressive vote on is a luxury in this election and your privilege is allowing you to gamble with the lives of low income, disabled, and vulnerable women across this country who are already suffering unbearably. I'm a feminist, activist and Gender and Women's Studies scholar. I care about women's equality, so let me be very clear: this election, the choice is simpler than it ever has been. If we truly want a progressive society, it's Labour or bust. 

Angela Towers is a women's right campaigner. She was part of the No More Page 3 campaign, co-founded Woman Up and is currently doing an MA in Gender and Women's Studies

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