Where are the Labour sisterhood this morning?
Presumably they’re not listening to Woman’s Hour, where one of their Westminster colleagues blamed the ladies for Britain’s paralysis on the world stage. Outgoing Labour MP Austin Mitchell has—to say the least—a curious theory:
‘I think the problem is simply this, that parliament with more women is going to be more anxious to discuss issues relevant to the people, that is to say family issues, social issues. And less inclined to discuss big issues like should we invade Iraq.’
This is clearly a pet peeve for Mr Mitchell, who recently claimed that Labour’s ‘process of feminisation’ is making it too ‘gentle’ to be in power. He pointed the finger of blame right at Ed Miliband’s office, which he claimed is full of ‘apparat-chicks’. It may be August, but just imagine for a second the reaction had Mitchell been a unreconstructed Tory shireman…
UPDATE: Labour has distanced itself from Mitchell’s remarks. One of the party’s apparat-chaps said:
‘Austin Mitchell’s views do not represent the Labour Party.
All women shortlists have ensured Labour is the party with the highest representation of women of the main parties in Parliament.
We are proud that in our target battleground seats for the general election just over half those candidates selected so far are women. In a week in which the Fawcett Society published figures showing how the government has let women down, with high unemployment, hundreds of thousands of women in low paid jobs and on zero hours contracts and many more women than men paid less than the minimum wage it is right that Labour stands to ensure women’s voices are heard in the national debate.
The suggestion that women in politics are less inclined to discuss big issues is ridiculous and wrong.’