Labour has a 'blindspot' about women party leaders, Liz Kendall says

Jon Stone

Labour has a “blindspot” when it comes to women leaders, one of the party’s former leadership candidates has said.

Liz Kendall, who came last with 4.5 per cent in the 2015 leadership contest, said Labour’s historic record of embracing women’s rights and issues perhaps meant it had not focused as intently on the issue of its leadership.

“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, I think sometimes we have a bit of a blindspot in our own party,” she told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge programme.

“I hope one day we do see a woman leader of the party, but we need more women councillors, more women MPs, an we’re not going to stop until we get there.”

Labour has never been led by a woman other than for brief interim periods.

Women candidates have a history of doing badly in Labour leadership contests and have come in last place in all the races they have stood in.

During last year’s contest Angla Eagle dropped out of the leadership race to challenge Jeremy Corbyn before it had officially begun; no women remained in the race.

In 2015 Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper, the two women candidates, came in last and penultimate place in the contest.

In 2010 Diane Abbott, the only woman candidate, came in last place. In 1994 Margaret Beckett, again the only woman candidate, also came in last place. No other women have successfully made it onto the ballot paper in a Labour leadership race.

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