Labour has blind spot towards women says former leadership contender Liz Kendall

Jen Offord
Copeland by-election

Liz Kendall has says the Labour Party has a "blind spot" when it comes to women and female leaders. Appearing on Sky News' Sophy Ridge programme on Sunday, Kendall voiced her frustrations over the party's failure to promote women into top jobs.

Though women account for half of all of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet positions, including the jobs of shadow foreign and home secretaries, the options available to Corbyn to fill the posts have been extremely limited. For example, some of the party's previous hopes for women in top jobs such as Stella Creasy, Yvette Cooper and Gloria De Piero, all ruled themselves out of working in Corbyn's top team.

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Kendall told Ridge: "I think sometimes because we are the party that has got more women MPs that has fought for equal pay, that has delivered maternity leave and better childcare sometimes we have a bit of a blind spot in our own party."

Kendall echoed the frustrations of other female politicians, such as Harriet Harman who recently told Ridge she should have stood for leadership of the party at the time Corbyn was elected in 2015.

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Kendall said: "I became acting leader and suddenly realised I could do it. At that moment, I should have stepped forward," adding "I think the world is full of men who aren't up to the job pushing forward and loads of women who are up to the job who don't and for that moment I was probably one of them."

Despite the Labour Party having the most female MPs and often being thought of as a party that promotes women's rights, the Conservative Party has now had two female prime ministers in Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, while the Labour Party has yet to elect a female leader. Kendall and Cooper both stood against Corbyn in the 2015 leadership contest, though they polled lower than Corbyn and second-placed Andy Burnham.

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In the 2010 leadership contest following the resignation of Gordon Brown, Diane Abbott was the only female candidate to stand, polling the lowest with just 7% of the vote for first preference. No candidates stood against Brown's leadership in 2007, but at the last leadership contest before Tony Blair's tenure, Margaret Becket stood against Blair and John Prescott, and also polled lowest.

In Sunday's interview, Kendall added: "I hope one day we do see a woman leader of the party, but we need loads more women councillors, more women MPs and we're not going to stop until we get there."

Liz Kendall

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