Following the Parliamentary Labour Party's (PLP) decision to effectively ignore party policy regarding gender balance its freedom to manage its own affairs should be terminated as soon as possible. Labour Party members and supporters don't give of their time and money to support a boys' club.
Yesterday, a majority of the 257 Labour MPs voted to restrict a proposed increase in the quota of women in the 19-member Shadow Cabinet to just six for the duration of the current Parliament. This was a slap in the face to campaigners calling for a radical move to show the electorate that Labour is the only political party serious about equality.
Some commentators are worried that the PLP by voting to retain a 100% elected shadow cabinet the hands of the new Leader are being tied. Absolutely, that it the point of elections. By presenting the Leader with an elected list of Labour MPs, our elected representatives are encouraging team work and reducing the scope for pedestal politics. But by opting for biennial shadow cabinet elections, accountability for performance has been eroded - compared with the previous practice in Opposition of an annual contest. These issues can not be left unchallenged by the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
As a member of the NEC, I shall be calling for a report to the next NEC meeting and proposing that the PLP proposals are subject to debate and final decision at Conference. In addition, I shall be proposing that the NEC recommend to Conference an immediate 50% quote for women in the Shadow Cabinet elections due to start during Conference itself.