Jeremy Corbyn must oppose any attempt to undermine the practice of all-women shortlists, UNISON said today (Friday).
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has written to the Labour leader warning that any move that threatens equal representation in parliament risks a return to the ‘bad old days’ where men ‘monopolise promised (parliamentary) seats.’
It comes as Labour is set to decide who will replace retiring MPs in the run-up to a general election.
In his letter, Dave Prentis says: “The Labour Party and UNISON have a proud record of encouraging women to come forward.
“We’ve worked together over decades towards our goal of 50-50 representation through the all-women shortlist process.
“However, I’m aware of discussions around existing seats that seek to overturn that practice.
“I find this deeply concerning, and wish to flag up the risks and dangers of meddling with a process that has served us well.
“All-women shortlists are being used as bargaining chips primarily for the convenience of men to take or monopolise promised seats.
“There must not be a return to the bad old days of backroom stitch-ups and women being pushed further away from being represented in parliament.
“We support more than a million women including thousands who are active in the Labour party. They’re strong, talented and from all walks of life, and many – like Angela Rayner and Eleanor Smith – would make excellent MPs.
“Labour has a clear policy that where a female Labour MP steps down, that specific seat must stay open to women only. This must remain the case.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.
– UNISON is committed to increasing women’s representation in parliament through the all-women shortlist (AWS) process.