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Jeremy Corbyn, women, and the shadow cabinet

I know the so-called women’s pages in the Telegraph aren’t meant for incisive political comment, but Cathy Newman’s piece on Jeremy’s will-he won’t-he reshuffle is a strong contender for idiocy of the year. And we’re only on 2016’s second day. It has it all: bad faith, banalities masquerading as analysis, omissions of fact. It’s awful.

Cathy sets out a thought experiment. What if Jeremy Corbyn chooses to stuff his shadow cabinet full of women? What indeed. The shadow chancellorship should go to Angela Eagle, the foreign office to Yvette Cooper, to Liz Kendall social security or health, promotions for Gloria de Piero and Sarah Champion, and jobs found for Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds, Naz Shah, Stella Creasy, and Jess Phillips. She rounds off by noting that “the Labour leader has no excuse as he ponders his next move. If he cares about promoting women, there is no shortage of talent. Now he needs to tap it.”

Indeed he does, but given how unassailable Jeremy’s position is , is it likely his closest political ally is going to get dumped for someone who refuses to be drawn on whether Jeremy should be Prime Minister or not? Or, again, given the position of strength from which the putative reshuffle is to be made, why would Jeremy hand the shadow foreign office brief to someone, like Yvette, who thinks bombing raids over Syria in the absence of a plan is fine and dandy? And, to be frank, Jeremy would be out of his tree to hand health to Liz Kendall who, lest we forget, wants more markets and more businesses in the NHS – because she thinks they know how to run public services better. Cathy is an experienced political journalist, so to leave out the politics highlights either shocking incompetence or cynicism: when none of these get the call, Jeremy is obviously an awful sexist.

Let’s also note that the MPs getting the Newman seal of approval – Yvette, Liz, Rachel, and Emma – were not passed over by Jeremy when he appointed his first shadcab. They ruled themselves out of participating. If they want to put themselves up for future consideration that’s a matter for them, but let’s not rewrite history and pretend they were unjustly marginalised by bolshevik brocialism.

The other thing about Cathy’s list is that it’s very, for want of a better word, metropolitan. It’s only a matter of time before Jess Phillips is on Question Time more than Nigel Farage seeing as the media can’t get enough of our blunt-talking comrade, and all of the others are very well known to the TV studios. Cathy’s known to occasionally hang out with some of them too. Meanwhile, there’s a pool of 99 female Labour MPs to choose from – many of whom never got a look-in under the blessed Ed, and who Cathy wouldn’t know from Adam. For instance, she notes that Anna Turley has “laid low“. No, since her election Anna’s been neck-deep campaigning for Redcar steel works and is now dealing with the aftermath – I suppose Cathy cannot be blamed for such a non-Westminster trifle not figuring on her radar. There are plenty of other very able women currently knocking about in junior briefs and doing the business from the back benches. Perhaps now it’s time they were given a chance instead of the same old same old.

Just like last time, Jeremy’s appointments will reflect the political make up of the party, and given the strength of the left and the tilting of the balance against the PLP since his election, I imagine its bent will be more reflective of the new normal. I am sure any women who are brought in will, as with the men, get positions on the basis of their politics, their competence, and likelihood of their not undermining the leader. Whoever gets a job I’m sure Cathy and her ilk will find something to moan about, but tough. This is politics, not the bloody X-Factor.


  1. jeffrey davies says:

    more blair babies which we dont want

  2. Chris says:

    This is a phenomenon called Feminazism. They appropriate the name of feminism in order to attack the left.

    Of course, real feminism died in the ’70s, so all so-called modern feminism is of this species.

    1. James Martin says:

      Did you get lost on the way to the Daily Heil site?

  3. Robert says:

    Corbyn is to the left so like Blair he will want only those that back him around him, which must worry him when Watson then votes for the bombing.

    I think the reshuffle will be a lite touch with movements side ways , as a warning to either back me or the door is that way.

    Reeves and many others who refused position in Corbyn front bench will not be returning they are still dreaming of Tony’s return or one of his mates like Benn.

  4. gerry says:

    Phil – the Left has always had a “women problem” and comments like those by Chris and Jeffrey, show why.

    Since 1945 women in the UK have voted in greater numbers than men for the Tories. Working class women, in particular, did this, and were the reason why Tories dominated UK politics since universal suffrage. And of course the first and so far only woman PM was a Tory. In 1997, Blair and Labour erased the voting gender gap – resulting in 3 Labour election wins in a row. Brown and Miliband never really held on to this gender gap. The party which appeals to working class and lower middle class women is nearly always the winning party.

    Sexism and patriarchy run like a seam through much of our Labour coalition…the vicious sexualised hatred directed by many on the left for Creasy, Cooper, Kendall, Phillips is telling. And the public face of Labour today (JC, John McDonnell, Ken Livingstone, Sadiq Khan, Seumas Milne et al ) resembles the same old same old boys club…sad, and ultimately self defeating…for us.

    1. John P reid says:

      And don’t forget the personal attacks on Rachel reeves by Andrew Fisher

      1. Rod says:

        Is that the the Oxford-educated, ex-banker Rachel Reeves who wanted to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefit claimants?

        1. John P reid says:

          The benefit claims, could mean finding jobs that people on benefits could do

          Regarding the Oxford educated thing,I recall meeting her sister years ago,and asking her what university did she go to Oxford or Cambridge,she replied, Oxford, how did you guess!

          1. Rod says:

            Reeves contributed credibility to Tory ‘tough on scroungers’ twaddle.

            Labour should be holding the government to account and offer an alternative – not fall in behind divisive Tory nonsense.

            Unfortunately Reeves, like many of the Blairites in the PLP, is not up to the task.

            I’m sure Jezza will be pleased to provide a good reference is she wants to return to banking.

      2. James Martin says:

        John, you really are getting desperate if you are seemingly trying to say that Andrew Fisher was/is sexist. A casual look at his old twitter comments would show you that he was very much an equal opportunities insulter in his younger days. In any case he really hasn’t got the credit and praise he clearly deserves for accurately and perceptively summing up the nasty Rochdale lecher as ‘Dumbf*%k’ in 2013 at a time when the metropolitan lovie media and right-wing inside the Party couldn’t get enough of the toad.

        1. John P reid says:

          It was different kind of tweets directed towards women,and gays

  5. Bazza says:

    But apart from the few women who supported Jeremy where are the Rosa Luxemburgs?
    The answer is they are there in trade unions and in working class constituencies around the country but these working class women perhaps can’t afford to spend £10,000 promoting themselves (the legal maximum) as one horrible female Blairite I have heard of did and of course she was also not local – it is really insulting to working class areas that they can’t be allowed to find a good local candidate.
    Yes we should aiim for 50:50 male/female Labour MPs but not to benefit middle class women which sadly with the tokenism of women only shortlists seems to have happened.
    Out of perhaps 6 candidates on Parliamentary shortlists where there are currently no Labour MPs (and where there are where 51% of members don’t want a shortlist of one) we need at least 2 working class people on every parliamentary shortlist (social classes 3-6) and still have at least 2 women on every shortlist and perhaps at least one candidate from either a BME background/LGBT or disabled. We should then pick the best left wing democratic socialist whatever their background.
    But yes I am proposing a revolution in the Labour Party and yes the middle class careerists in Labour should be worried – like this middle class women they think they are the great men and women of history but funnily enough don’t seem to have an original idea in their heads.
    With her £10,000 she still only won on a women only shortlist by 4 votes.
    The Commons today (apart from the Left) is full of mediocrity including 70% of Labour MPs – it’s time for better.

  6. David Ellis says:

    80% of the women Labour MPs are Blairite careerists. They have no affinity with anti-austerity or anti-imperialism. If the left wish to have a shadow cabinet with equal female representation generally and in the `top jobs’ in particular then it is time to de-select New Labour MPs and get representatives in Parliament that serve the party and reflect its views. Putting women in the shadow cabinet regardless of their hostility to the working class and socialism is not an option.

    1. John P Reid says:

      So Anyone who’s not a anti imperialist is a Blair babe,lol

  7. swatantra says:

    Drop the Eagles and Abbott and bring in Reeves and Flint, as representing modern Labour women.
    And while I’m on about it, isn’t time to give JC a facelift or even a makeover. He is in desparate need of the sort of miracle that Mrs T got under Tim Bell.
    He needs to adopt a new character, like that of a sailor; everybody loves a sailor, and there are plenty of fishermen’s friends around. I see him as that sailor on those packet of fags in the olden days … John Players, with that same beard and sailor’s cap saying to the world … a man you can trust, and a patriot too fighting for you in HM’s Navy. So ditch the lenin cap for a sailor’s beret. And there are so many sailing metaphors that can be brought into his speeches to liven them up , like say steady as she goes or the ship of state etc. and running the Country and the Party like a man of war, in this very hostile world.
    The last PM to use the sailor image was Ted Heath and he won the Sidney Hobart as well as taking us into Europe.

    1. swatantra says:

      I’ve been giving some thought as to who the next Leader of the Party should be, and come to the conclusion that it should be a woman.
      So, out of the Labour women MPs we don’t have much to choose from in terms of age experience and credibility, and possibly going down well and acceptable, with the public. It looks like its going to have to be Lucy Powell. She’s pretty forthright and assertive, and not one of these wishy washy, syrupy type politicians who weasel up to you and ingratiate themselves for your support, and doesn’t tolerate fools gladly and has grass roots connections, and is probably at the right age to take on the role. And her hair is the right length in style and cut.

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