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An Open Letter on All Women Shortlists (initiated by the Fabian Women’s Network Executive Committee)

For circulation to: all NEC members and Dawn Butler MP (Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities)

Now more than ever, we need to see real and meaningful representation in British politics and to see Westminster reflect wider society.

All Women Shortlists (AWS) were adopted at 1993 Labour Party conference to address the underrepresentation of women. Since the 1997 General Election, it has been clear that using AWS has succeeded in putting the Labour Party far ahead of others in terms of proportionality of female elected MPs and councillors.

The Fabian Women’s Network is proud of these achievements and believe the Labour Party must be ready to build upon them. We notably have the most diverse shadow cabinet in parliamentary history with 15 out of 32 being women, four of whom are BAME. But the Labour Party now stands alone as the only major political party who has never elected a woman as leader.  It is therefore vitally important that we hold our ground – and improve the number of our women MPs.

Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party we welcome the increase in women members being selected as parliamentary candidates in our target seats. However, we note the continued underrepresentation of disabled and BAME women in these seats.

Labour Party policy mandates that only women are considered in half of the vacant seats the party is likely to win. AWS selections have therefore been installed in constituencies which there have previously only been male MPs, or where a female MP retires and the CLP request continuation of having a woman to represent them. We are concerned that the wishes of the CLP have been ignored in Vauxhall and Stockport. This is a step back for gender equality and representation.

Research shows that, for Labour, women selected via AWS have had more political experience than their male counterparts for in all elections, bar one. The Fabian Women’s Network notes that this strategy to increase representation is now at risk of being sidelined. This is clearly a serious equality and intersectional issue and we echo the concerns voiced by Unison in their recent letter.

A lack of clarity on the implementation of policy for the allocation of AWS so close to what is likely to be an autumn general election, is concerning and unsettling for CLPs and potential candidates alike. It also does a huge disservice to the tireless work done over many years to increase women’s representation in the party.

A 100 years after the first women MPs were elected, we urge the Labour Party to ensure the implementation of a transparent policy on All Women Shortlists.

The Fabian Women’s Network is committed to working with the Labour Party and wider Labour movement to improve underrepresentation of diverse groups (including BAME, working class, disabled, LBT) of women. We want to continue to demonstrate that the Labour Party is the party of equality, in words and deeds. Signed by:

1. Sara Hyde (Fabian Women’s Network, Chair) 2. Shaista Aziz (Fabian Women’s Network, Co-Vice Chair) 3. Jos Bell (Fabian Women’s Network, Secretary) 4. Kindy Sandhu (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 5. Rachael Agnew (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 6. Sanchia Alasia (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 7. Tamara Cincik (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 8. Christine Megson (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 9. Denise Scott-McDonald (Fabian Women’s Network Exec member) 10. Emily Rowles 11. Beatriz Brown 12. Anya Sizer 13. Cllr Kelly Braund 14. Abigail 15. Lucy Caldicott 16. Mike Buckley 17. Jackie Taylor 18. Cllr Allison Gardner (Chair of Newcastle-under-Lyme CLP) 19. Cllr Anna-Joy Rickard 20. Cllr Amna Abdullatif 21. Cllr Helen Dennis 22. Marcia Hutchinson (Chair Manchester Labour Women’s Network) 23. Moritz Reithmayr 24. Sarah Webster 25. Cllr Sheila Chapman 26. Cllr Sarah Russell 27. Kathryn Mackridge 28. Cllr Liz Parsons 29. Maya 30. Linda Hobson 31. Jane Middleton 32. Rachel Cain 33. Rosie Duffield MP 34. Liz Hind 35. Cllr Rachel Massey 36. Cllr Kelly Grehan (Women’s Officer, Dartford CLP) 37. Marcie Winstanley 38. Amy Fowler 39. Graham McKerrow 40. Alexandria Hassett (LGBT Officer and Campaigns Officer Erith and Thamesmead CLP) 41. Deeba Syed (Women’s Officer, Bethnal Green and Bow) 42. Nicola Morrison (Policy and Political Education Officer) 43. Stephen Bradley 44. Sukhvinder Kaur (Officer – Birmingham Perry Barr CLP) 45. Rory Reynolds 46. Donna Briant (Chair, Old Bexley and Sidcup CLP) 47. Janet Mace 48. Carole Jones 49. Charlotte Hughes (Women’s Officer) 50. Cllr Clare Penny-Evans 51. Jenny Reeves (Faversham and Mid Kent CLP Women’s Officer) 52. Cllr Nicola Taylor 53. Cllr Clare McIntyre 54. Michelle Uden 55. Meenatchi Gopal (Women’s officer) 56. Sarah-Helen Snow 57. Tonia Antoniazzi MP 58. Jayne Edgar 59. Sarah Crook 60. Dr Tom Gardiner (Co-Convener Fabian Health Network) 61. Christine Angell 62. Dave Putson 63. Gloria De Piero MP 64. Cllr Charlotte Morris 65. Joanne Ainscough (Women’s Officer, Morecambe and Lunesdale CLP) 66. Rebecca Shirazi (Vice-Chair (Campaigns), Hampstead & Kilburn CLP) 67. Naomi Smith 68. Cllr Alina Gaskin (Chair, Dartford CLP) 69. Ali O’Brien 70. Kerry-Lynne Pyke 71. Cllr Nanda Manley-Browne (CLP BAME Officer) 72. Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward 73. Rebecca Montacute 74. Cllr Eve Holt 75.Natalie Boorman 76. Martine Woolley 77. Isobel Boyson 78. Kathy Fletcher 79. Cllr Rachel Lancaster 80. Rachael Loftus 81. Amrita Rose (Hackney South and Shoreditch exec member) 82. Pam Lowe 83. Lucy Furneaux 84. Cecily Holt 85. Charlotte Carson 86. Mary-Ann Stephenson 87. Sue Synodinos 88. Ashley Dalton (PPC Rochford & Southend East) 89. Cllr Shama Tatler 90. Hannah Lazell (Croydon North CLP Women’s Officer) 91. Cllr Catherine Stafford 92. Cllr Joanne Howcroft-Scott 93. Lisa Macnally 94. Astrid Walker (Trans Officer, LGBT+ Labour) 95. Harriet Gore 96. Cllr Jeanie Bell (CLP Women’s Officer) 97. Caroline Walsh 98. Cllr Gavin White (Secretary, Manchester Withington CLP) 99. Gillian Troughton 100. Lucien Senna 101. Carol Milner 102. Santha Blankley 103. Alison M Dunning 104. Fiona Ruddy 105. Joan Smith (Vice Chair (membership) Hyndburn CLP) 106. Dr Frances Rehal MBE QN (CLP Secretary) 107. Emma Whysall (PPC Chipping Barnet) 108. Catherine Stafford 109. Alexander Barlow 110. Anna Williams-Price (Women’s Officer, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney CLP) 111. Laura Wright 112. Chris Paul 113. Cllr Gillian Pardesi 114. Eileen Walsh 115. Elizabeth Smith 116. Emily Batchelor 117. Marian Craig 118. Dan McGill (Policy Officer, Old Bexley & Sidcup CLP) 119. Cllr Rebecca Cooper (Leader of Labour Group, Worthing Council) 120. Marilyn Evers 121. Elizabeth Barnard 122. Rosalind Garton (North East Fife CLP Policy Officer) 123. Tom Schuller 124. Lorna Boyd 125. Kira Millana Lewis (Co-Chair KCL Labour, Co-Chair LGBT Labour London & SE) 126. Margaret Curran 127. Ruth Davidson 128. Scarlett McGwire 129. Laura Griffiths (Vice Chair Communications, Watford CLP) 130. Kirsty Taylor (Fundraising Officer Bethnal Green & Bow CLP) 131. Jayne Rice-Oxley 132. Cllr Stephanie Cryan 133. Charlotte Norton (Women’s Officer, Poplar and Limehouse) 134. Lynda Jessopp 135. Vera Baird 136. Margaret Onians 137. Kate Webber 138. Carole Jones 139. Mary Cannon 140. Esme Hicks 141. Lorna Boyd 142. Jeremy Fosten (Chair of Bexley Young Labour and Youth Officer for Old Bexley and Sidcup CLP) 143. Cllr Kate Chinn (CLP Membership secretary) 144. Holly Smith (Women’s Officer) 145. Oban Mackie 146. Dame Jane Roberts 147. Cllr Emma Louise Rapier 148. Karen Landles 149. Mhairi Tordoff 150. Allison Sanderson 151. Cecily (Branch Chair, Birmingham Fabian Rep) 152. Barbara Burfoot (Former Chair and Secretary 2001 Parliamentary Candidate) 153. Polly Toynbee 154. Liz Vincent 155. Helen Turner 156. Eva Tutchell 157. Catherine Fookes 158. Cllr Reema Patel 159. Charlie Sutton 160. Cllr Debbie Monksfield 161. Michelle Young 162. Samantha Reed 163. Cllr Maggie McTernan 164. Cllr Favour Ezeifedi 165. Anne Sassoon 166. Emily Brothers (LGBT Officer and former parliamentary candidate) 167. Baroness Ruth Lister 168. Laura Pascal 169. Astrid Walker (Trans Officer LGBT+ Labour) 170. Cllr Sophie Cameron 171. Mary Young 172. Isobel Moses 173. Christine McNaught 174. Angela Bailey 175. Cllr Jenny Mulholland 176. L Atherton 177. Elen Griffiths (Exec Member, Society of Labour Lawyers) 178. Sarah Hutchinson 179. Alex Beverley (Women’s Officer Plymouth Sutton & Devonport) 180. Anita Pollack (Chair, Newham Fabians, Former MEP) 181. Jane Bigham 182. Jennifer Smith 183. Roseanna Grayston 184. Cllr Andrea Mann 185. Sara Linton (Chair of Battersea Labour Party)

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