Well, that lasted long. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s better-than-expected election result, Labour politicians have done their best to heal old wounds and put on a united front. However, in a sign that the party remains fractious, a row has broken out over an idea many MPs thought to be in the dustbin.
During the Labour leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn proposed the idea of introducing women-only train carriages. However, the idea was given short shrift by his colleagues, who saw it as a step backwards and it was subsequently dropped. Now shadow fire minister Chris Williamson has brought it back to the fray. Following the news that sexual offences on trains have more than doubled in the past five years, he suggested creating separate travelling arrangements for female passengers might offer ‘a safe space’ for women.
Somewhat predictably, the Corbynista’s comments have riled many of his female colleagues – who don’t see segregation as the solution to sexual harassment. Labour’s Jess Phillips has branded the suggestion an ‘absolutely terrible idea’ – suggesting the Labour frontbencher is taking his feminist cues from Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Stella Creasy has attempted a more diplomatic approach, tweeting her colleague (presumably the phone wasn’t working) to suggest making ‘all carriages safe for all passengers rather than restricting’ where women can go:
If you take your feminist cues from Saudi Arabia you've gone wrong
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) August 22, 2017
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) August 22, 2017
Of course, the Labour party has a history of male politicians developing a penchant for gender segregation…
What the hell! Gender segregation at Birmingham Labour Party hustings! Was it choice or was it pressure? pic.twitter.com/NvgfmuZF77
— Shaista Gohir (@ShaistaGohir) May 3, 2015