Senior Labour women blast lack of diversity in top frontbench roles

Posted On: 
27th September 2015

A succession of Labour figures have hit out at Jeremy Corbyn for failing to appoint more women to senior roles in his Shadow Cabinet.

Yesterday Harriet Harman said there was a lack of "equality" in Labour and argued for a change in the party's rules so that women are guaranteed top jobs.

In his Shadow Cabinet, Jeremy Corbyn appointed John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor, Andy Burnham Home Secretary and Hilary Benn Foreign Secretary – roles considered to be the “major offices of state”.

Defeated Labour deputy leadership candidate Caroline Flint said Jeremy Corbyn “missed an opportunity” to diversify his frontbench team.

She told Sky News: “Look, without taking anything away from Jeremy and Tom [Watson] who won the leadership contest this summer, we haven’t got women in the top jobs in our party. That includes the major offices of state.

“I think that is a missed opportunity and I think Harriet is 100% right.”

Speaking to the same show, Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy lambasted the lack of women in senior roles within Labour, saying the omission made her feel “uncomfortable”.

“I think we have got something to sort out as a party because we have got a situation now where both our leader and our deputy leader are men, and as a women I feel very uncomfortable about that.

“I think we need to change the way that we do things. Jeremy started by for the first time putting more than 50% of women into the Shadow Cabinet, including me, into big jobs like Energy and Climate Change ahead of Paris.

“But, it doesn’t meant that we cant and shouldn’t do more,” she added.


Ms Flint said she agreed with fellow Labour MP Yvette Cooper that there is evidence party members are engaging with abuse on social media.

“I think there is something about social media that people tweet before they engage their brains quite frankly,” she told Sky News.

“There is no doubt about it in the political world, and I don’t think it is something just in our party, there are people, some of whom may be party members, some of whom may not be – we just don’t know – who take to social media with only one purpose. That is to be insulting, abusive and undermine women and others.

“I think again Yvette’s right to say that if there is evidence that there are party members engaging in this activity it should be tackled.”