UK: Ed Miliband’s focus on equality and fairness win him the leadership vote of Labour Party women Print E-mail

 London ~ Saturday, 11 September 2010, page 31

Letters (Scroll down to also read Lead for Women's Letter to Labour Party Leadership Candidates)


Why women should back Ed Miliband

We want a Labour leader who understands and acts to meet the challenges and aspirations faced by women. That is why we are backing Ed Miliband (Our man will win on second votes, says Ed Miliband's team, 6 September). Tackling inequality has been at the heart of his career and of his campaign, and he has always argued that "women's issues" are not for women to fight alone. He has also argued that Labour is the natural home for all of those who want to see the promotion of gender equality. Throughout the campaign, Ed has spoken out against inequality, and for fairness – in the workplace, on flexible working, and on the low conviction rates in rape cases.

This has been backed up by substantial proposals. Most people who work for under £7 an hour are women, usually with families to care for. Ed has campaigned resolutely for the living wage of over £7 an hour to ensure that women's low pay is tackled properly. He focuses on the particularly harsh effects of the coalition's budget policy on women, with their cuts in family support and public sector jobs. Ed has the ability and the commitment to offer practical alternatives to these policies, which sabotage social justice and economic progress.

Ed Miliband supports all-women shortlists to make sure that more women become MPs; he was the first candidate to say we should move towards greater gender balance in the shadow cabinet; and he wants to introduce a cabinet-level shadow women's minister, to make sure that women's voices are always heard at the highest levels. And Ed insists that there should be no backtracking on promises made to women in the developing world. He knows they bear the brunt of the effects of the financial crisis, spiralling prices and the pressures imposed by climate change.

Glenys Kinnock, Joan Ruddock MP, Margaret Beckett, Elizabeth Smith, Helena Kennedy, Ellie Reeves, Kathy Lette, Ann Begg MP, Luciana Berger MP, Roberta Blackman Woods MP, Margaret Curran MP, Maria Eagle MP, Anita Gale, Helen Goodman MP, Susan Elan Jones MP, Joyce Gould, Lillian Greenwood MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Linda McAvan MEP, Arlene McCarthy MEP, Anne McKechin MP, Sandra Osborne MP, Margaret Prosser, Rachel Reeves MP, Emma Reynolds MP, Alison Seabeck MP, Catherine Stihler MEP, Emily Thornberry MP, Joan Walley MP, Glenis Willmott MEP, Cathy Jamieson MP, Lisa Nandy MP

• Four of the five Labour leadership candidates promised to support a 50:50 shadow cabinet. So we are disappointed the parliamentary party decided that the shadow cabinet should include only eight women out of 26. We look forward to the support of the new leader in persuading the PLP that we need a shadow cabinet that clearly leads for women.

Rachael Saunders, Helen Symons, Melanie Ward and eight others

Lead for Women


Letter to Labour Party Leadership Candidates

By lead4women
Dear Candidates

Will you lead for women?

We are writing to you as women activists from across the Labour Party, who want to contribute our views to Labour’s leadership candidates regarding the involvement of women within the Party.

We are proud of Labour’s record on equality – the fact that there are more Labour women in Parliament now than from the other Parties combined is a testament to the leadership that we have shown. However, we are also concerned that the attrition rate of women in the Labour Party is too high – too many women are put off politics before they even contemplate standing for election – and that there are still far too many barriers that stop women from being meaningfully involved at every level in the Party. Those barriers are exacerbated for LGBT, BAME and disabled women – Labour not only needs more women, but more diverse women too. That the 2010 election has been widely referred to as ‘the election in which women were invisible’ shows a clear and pressing need for action.

The next Labour leader must lead for women – must speak up on the issues that matter, pro-actively work to tear down the barriers that put off many women from being involved in the Party and ensure that women are in senior decision-making positions in the Party and the Shadow Cabinet. We believe the following are necessary for our Party to address the real and pressing barriers faced by women. We’d like you to tell us if you are willing to act on them.

1. Will you speak out on issues that affect women (from domestic abuse, to the rape conviction rate, to childcare and family issues, to poisonous media coverage of women in politics), ensure they are a genuine priority for the Party, and not leave them solely for women politicians to respond to?

2. Will you support 50:50 gender balance in the Shadow Cabinet and support women’s representation across the Shadow Government operation, and will you appoint a Shadow Cabinet-level Minister for Women and ensure that it is treated as a key part of the Shadow team? Will you support women standing in Local Government, and ensure that existing rules around gender representation in Labour Group Executives are also applied to Local Government Executive and Shadow Executive structures, leading to a position where Labour Groups and Council Cabinets across the country reflect the communities they serve? Will you commit to maintain All-Women Shortlists, ensure they are properly and transparently implemented, and will you commit to actively making the case for quotas and All-Women Shortlists when they come under attack?

3. We need a fully supported and well-resourced national, regional and local organisational and campaigning structure within the Party that allows women to come together, to decide upon campaigning priorities, and to have clear routes to feed in to Party policy making. Will you support this and, if so, how will you make it a reality?

4. Will you take personal responsibility for a cultural change from the top to the bottom of the Party to tear down the barriers that stop women getting or staying involved? Will you ensure that there is better training and guidelines for CLP Officers to ensure that local Parties proactively support women’s involvement? Will you ensure that senior women in the Party are never again ‘invisible’, both as spokespeople for the Party in the media, and as internal decision-makers?

5. Too many women are put off politics because of how they are treated. Will you install a transparent and accessible complaints procedure that takes complaints seriously and acts quickly?

Throughout the leadership election, we will be challenging you on the broader policy issues that affect women too – women will be the first to suffer as the Conservative- Liberal Democrat Coalition slashes jobs and public services, and it is vital that Labour speaks out against the Government when they are sidelining women’s views.

Now more than ever, with the Tories and Liberal Democrats shamed by their lack of women at the top of politics, Labour needs to be a Party that visibly and meaningfully represents women. Ensuring that Labour has women in key positions across the Party – and that we speak up and are heard on the issues that matter to women – is not only the right thing to do, but will also help us to regain ground amongst the women whose votes we lost at the General Election.

We very much welcome the fact that there’s a woman on the ballot paper in this election, however, we also believe it’s the responsibility of all candidates to commit to a Labour Party which leads for women, and in which women lead. We look forward to receiving your formal response to the five points above, which we will publish on You can respond at


Olivia Bailey – Hammersmith CLP

Hannah Blythyn – Alyn & Deeside CLP

Katie Curtis – Castle Point CLP

Jenny Duncan – Edinburgh North & Leith CLP

Helen Gibson – Lewisham Deptford CLP

Susan Nash – Walthamstow CLP

Claire Reynolds – Stalybridge & Hyde CLP

Rachael Saunders – Bethnal Green & Bow CLP

Rohini Simbodyal – Edmonton CLP

Helen Symons – Southend West CLP

Melanie Ward – Lewisham West & Penge CLP

Ellie Reeves – Labour Party NEC

Tami Peterson – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP

Jude Robinson – Camborne & Redruth CLP

Vic Langer – Finchley and Golders Green CLP

Louise Riddell – Edinburgh East CLP

Nan Sloane – Leeds North East CLP

Melanie Haslam – Bolton South East CLP

Rebecca Gordge – Bristol West CLP

Sophie Ballinger – Derby South CLP

Claire Spencer – Birmingham Hall Green CLP

Christine Quigley – Westminster North CLP

Hannah McFaull – Tower Hamlets CLP

Irma Gorton, North Tyneside CLP

Talat Yaqoob – Edinburgh East CLP

Eilidh MacDonald – Edinburgh East CLP

Alex Baker – Vauxhall CLP

Kate Dommett – Sheffield Central CLP

Mary Lockhart – Ochil and South Perthshire CLP

Judith Fisher – Glasgow North West CLP

Ruth Dearnley – Chipping Barnet CLP

Rossanna Trudgian – Colchester CLP

Emma Gillan – Dunfermline & West Fife CLP

Sally Waters – Lewisham Deptford Bridge CLP

Maggie Curtis – Castle Point CLP

Estelle Hart – Gower CLP

Oona King – Bethnal Green & Bow

Kainde Manji – Stirling CLP

Marielle O’Neill – Batley and Spen CLP

Kezia Dugdale – Edinburgh East CLP

Sophia James -Sutton Coldfield CLP

Stephanie David – Bexleyheath & Crayford CLP

Samantha Kennedy – Labour Students

Vivienne Potter -Rutherglen and Hamilton West CLP

Marie Birchall, Surrey South West CLP

Rebecca Jakob – West Ham CLP

Sarah Wayman, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP

Helen Arnall – Cannock Chase CLP

Salman Jafri – Kilburn & Hamstead CLP

Kat Stark – Hornsey and Wood Green CLP

Marie-Noelle Loewe – Bethnal Green & Bow

Vicky Heywood – Stalybridge and Hyde CLP

Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Manchester Gorton CLP

Rosanne Kirk – Lincoln CLP

Hollie Jones Birmingham Edgbaston CLP

Clair Hawkins, Bethnal Green and Bow CLP

Helen Stephen, Glasgow North CLP

Liz Moon Peterborough CLP

Cllr Ingrid Cranfield – Edmonton

Chrissie Finnigan – Edinburgh South CLP

Janel Muir – Central Aryshire CLP

Cllr Louise Baldock – Chair of North West Region Labour Party

Ruth Bannister – Dulwich and West Norwood CLP

Judith Gardiner – Bethnal Green and Bow CLP

Madeleine Harris Smith – Dulwich & West Norwood CLP

Sarah Vero – Dulwich and West Norwood CLP

Alexandra Pardal – Westminster North CLP

Lynne Miles – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP

Cllr Victoria Silver – Harrow West CLP

Amelia Robinson – Portsmouth South CLP

Hannah Lister – Edinburgh East CLP

Anne Sassoon – Vauxhall CLP

Nicole Reece – Westminster North CLP

Leonie Mathers – Sherwood CLP

Ruth Bush – Edinburgh South CLP

Catriona Burness – Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey CLP

Renu Marley – Ladywood CLP

Veronica Low – Glasgow North East CLP

Natalie Heppenstall – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP

Emma Ritch – Glasgow North CLP

Tamsin Maddock – Twickenham CLP

Anne Baldwin – Colne Valley CLP

Jessica Leigh – Stalybridge & Hyde CLP

Katherine Dunne – Chair of Irish Labour Women (International Labour)

Vicki Baars – Leeds North West CLP

Kirsty Connell – Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirkshire CLP

Beth Walker – Bognor Regis & Littlehampton CLP

Vicki Evans – Neath CLP

Rhianydd Williams – Rhondda CLP

Sioned-Mair Richards – Sheffield Brightside CLP

Hannah Al-Othman – Heywood & Middleton CLP

Jackie – Bristol South CLP

Susanna Bellino – Kingston & Surbiton CLP

Ellie Conway Glasgow North CLP

Angie Stack – Bromley and Chistlehurst CLP

Clare Cozens – Camberwell & Peckham CLP

Alexandra Newlands – North East Fife

Cllr Rania Khan – Tower Hamlets CLP

Catherine Gibson – North Dorset CLP

Laraine Blythyn – Alyn & Deeside CLP

Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle – National Vice Chair BAME Labour

Cllr Rachel Harris – Wolverhampton South East CLP

Denise Robson – Gateshead CLP

Hannah Roberts – Oldham East and Saddleworth CLP

Jo Garton – Swindon South CLP

Saxon May Spence – East Devon CLP

Charmaine Elliott – Harrow West CLP

Felicity Dennistoun – Hammersmith CLP

Irene Macdonald – NWNorfolk CLP

Kathy Allen – Sutton & Cheam CLP

Gabrielle Jones – East Yorkshire CLP

Elaine Daley – Birmingham Hodge Hill CLP

Pat Apps – Kingswood CLP

Alana Davies – Bridgend CLP

Tina McSporran – Peterborough CLP

Jill Murdoch – Peterborough CLP

Amy Whitelock – Bethnal Green & Bow CLP

Anne Reyersbach – Battersea CLP

Cllr Ansuya Sodha – Hendon CLP

Jackie Drayton – Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough CLP

Dr Maria Neophytou – Bethnal Green & Bow CLP

Jo Cox – Batley & Spen CLP

Cllr Val Slater – Shipley CLP

Linnia David – Bridgend CLP

Juliet Harris – Hastings & Rye CLP

Rosalind Arden – Bately & Spen CLP

Alexandra Runswick – Hendon CLP

Danielle Pollastri – Finchley & Golders Green CLP

Karen Wilkie – Cardiff West CLP

Joanne Galazka – Cardiff Central CLP

Hazel Chowcat – Wakefield CLP

Jenny Kemp – Edinburgh East CLP

Polly McGrail – Colne Valley CLP

Victoria Jamieson – Paisley & Renfrewshire South CLP

Jean McLean – Bermondsey and Old Southwark CLP

Linnia David – Bridgend CLP

Cllr Shelia Boswell – Tooting CLP

Kath Rolph – Houghton & Sunderland CLP

Cllr Edith M Hughes – Bridgend CLP

Maggie O’Brien – Peterborough CLP

Jill Stevens – Hove & Portslade CLP

Cllr Rabina Khan – Tower Hamlets CLP

Cllr Louise Baldock – Chair, NW Region Labour Party

Kusum Parashar – Eailing Southall CLP

Jane Down – Bridgend CLP

Dannie Grufferty – Liverpool Riverside CLP

Lisa Holman – Chelsea & Fulham CLP

Gail McDade – Corby CLP

Cllr Rita Krishna – Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP

Helia Evans – Holborn & St Pancras CLP

Jenny Smith – Camberwell & Peckham CLP

Emma Hoddinott – Wentworth & Dearne CLP

Sally Spur – Battersea CLP

Hannah Lazell – Birmingham Ladywood CLP

Susan Dungworth – Blyth Valley CLP

Sally Young – Newcastle Central CLP

Esther Ashby – City of Durham CLP

Maria Eagle MP – Garston and Halewood CLP

Andrea Shufflebotham – Islington North CLP

Jyoti Bhojani – Harrow East CLP

Rachel Cummings – Horsham CLP

Ellie Cumbo – Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP

Catherine Briddick, Camberwell and Peckham CLP

Mandy Telford, Barrow and Furness CLP

We want as many women in the Labour Party as possible to add their names to this letter. If you wish to support it, please email and let us know your name and CLP or affiliated organisation, and we’ll add your name.