Why is it so hard for Labour to find a woman to be leader?

Suzanne Moore
Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

On Sunday night, I may have watched some men in suits talking nonsense. I may have been in the pub. I may have fallen asleep because the Tory-leadership candidate who is actually going to win couldn’t be arsed to turn up. Such is power. Some of these guys aren’t recognisable to me. Such is politics.

The winner will stand against Jeremy Corbyn. We all know Corbyn is very concerned about having more women in the Labour leadership. But not concerned enough to actually have many. Emily Thornberry couldn’t be called on to do PMQs as she made the terrible faux pas of telling the truth about the European elections. In the US, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden feel entitled enough to lead despite all the great Democrat women who are running against them.

For the past few years, in every chat I have had with a senior Labour person, they have acknowledged that the party needs a female leader. The Tories have done it twice. Maybe the Lib Dems will appoint Jo Swinson. But Labour has a shortage of women, not on its benches but in its inner circle. This inner circle includes the same people who struggle to deal effectively with sexual harassment cases and antisemitism, so it’s understandable they would find it challenging to track down a woman – any woman! – with the intellectual depth and mental agility of the present leader.

We keep being told politics is broken, and that we are entering the era of a multi-party system. Brexit represents the great divide, while the climate emergency overshadows everything. As always, there is something more important in the air for Labour than gender representation. Strong voices, from Stella Creasy to Jess Phillips, are not loyal enough to a leader who himself was never loyal. A suitable female pet has to be groomed or the revolution may stall.

Or it has already. When there is a general election involving a Tory leader who has treated the women in his life abominably, it would be progress at least if he could be challenged by a woman.

But I know that’s a silly dream.

•Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist