Politics & Current Affairs

Jeremy Corbyn’s Women Problem

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn attends the Fabian Women's Society annual summer gathering at the Fabian Societies offices in London Credit: Euan Cherry/Photoshot
Photograph: Euan Cherry/Photoshoot

Attacks on Corbyn were obviously going to redouble the very minute he won the leadership contest on Saturday. And they will come from many different places but, so far, it seems to be the Labour leader’s stance on women that’s coming under sustained attack.

We’ve seen some truly appalling nonsense on the question of women around the Labour leadership election and still more now the new leader has announced his shadow cabinet. And most of it from that doyen of middle-class ‘feminism’ The Guardian.

The issue of working class women being excluded from politics (and let’s be honest; everywhere else) isn’t what concerns Suzanne Moore here, nor her fellow-Guardianistas like Yvonne Roberts here. It’s the exclusion of women. Period. Irrespective of how dreadful and actually anti-women their politics might be.

This sort of thinking reaches reaches its nadir with truly risible nonsense like this from the The Independent’s Daisy Benson where she, in all seriousness, presumably, writes, “that’s why the only truly progressive thing for Labour to do would be to elect a female leader this time around – no matter what her policies are.” Incredible stuff.

This isn’t feminism. This is insanity. It means we should’ve voted for Thatcher. Because she had a vagina. It’s that whining, middle-class sense of entitlement  which will do nothing for working class women except to ensure their continued exclusion. Because they aren’t the right type of women. They are not the women with which the Guardianistas of this world are concerned.

Labour had two men and two women contesting the leadership. The women’s politics were wholly without merit (as were Andy Burnham’s). Indeed, possibly Cooper and certainly Kendal would look perfectly at home on the wetter wing of the Conservative Party. Their respective politics, had either been elected,  would have done nothing for emancipating working-class women. Quite the reverse; their victory would only have ensured more women bearing the brunt of neoliberal austerity.

It’s a shuddering irony that the candidate best representing women from a neoliberal majority was a white, middle-class man but hey; them’s the breaks. The answer wasn’t and isn’t to ditch Corbyn and choose Kendal or Cooper; the onus is on Cooper and Kendal to stop having nasty anti-women politics and start really representing women; not just the privileged, middle-class, white ones.

BBC News, earlier this evening, continued the theme started by The Guardian. An alliance of ‘feminists’ covering MPs, broadcast media and, from that bastion of women’s liberation, The Spectator, attacked Corbyn on the gender balance of his Shadow Cabinet. There still weren’t sufficient women; those who made the final cut were token appointments; no woman had one of the ‘top jobs’ and so on.

Now many of these are the same women who remained silent or supported and/or voted for austerity measures, welfare sanctions and cuts. You know; those things overwhelmingly borne by women. Of course, these are largely working-class, BAME and disabled women so who cares, right? Sisters doing it for themselves? Well, yes; but only themselves. Working class women need not apply.

Brit media – suddenly giving a damn about women since around 11.30am Saturday, September 12th, 2015…

2 replies on “Jeremy Corbyn’s Women Problem”

Spit supported Corbyn but both Kendall and Cooper had merit. Kendall focussed on an important part of the electorate she characterised as the aspirational worker. It was too narrow a focus, but this group is important to us too. Cooper has great intellectual skills but still seems trapped in the failed orthodoxy she learned at university. Both still could contribute greatly to the Party. Still I agree that in a balanced panel of candidates, I’m sure none of us voted for Corbyn because he’s a man.

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