As Jeremy Corbyn is criticised for his male-heavy shadow cabinet, has Labour got a woman problem?

Ella Whelan
Jeremy Corbyn did not appoint any women to his top shadow cabinet roles (Source: Getty)

Atul Hatwal, editor of Labour Uncut, says Yes

Boy oh boy, Labour really has a woman problem. No woman deemed able enough to fill any of the big jobs. A commitment from Jeremy Corbyn that half of his shadow cabinet would be women already broken, with just 10 women appointed out of 22 full members.

And widespread bafflement at what’s happened compounded by his bizarre refusal to explain his choices, as he ducked yet another slew of media interviews yesterday. It’s a total shambles, and Corbyn has achieved something quite extraordinary.

Not only has he handed the initiative on equality to the Tories – who have Theresa May as home secretary and, lest we forget, elected a woman as leader 40 years ago – but he’s managed to unite disparate factions across the right and left of the Labour party in opposition to him.

After this summer’s bitter and divisive leadership election, that takes some doing. And all within the first 36 hours of his leadership. Expect David Cameron to raise Labour’s problem with women, when he faces Corbyn for the first time at Prime Minister’s Questions tomorrow.

Ella Whelan, staff writer at Spiked Online, says No

It seems that Jeremy Corbyn has fallen from grace in feminist circles. Within a few days of being made Labour leader, he’s gone from being praised for his feminist-lite proposals to being decried as a white man with a woman problem.

Perhaps if the new Labour leader hadn’t made such a song and dance about having female MPs make up half of his shadow cabinet, he wouldn’t be facing such harsh criticism in light of his decision to give the top five positions to men.

But Corbyn’s gender pledge, reminiscent of Blair’s Babes in 1997, was always a patronising idea. Injecting parliament with lipstick in a bid to improve politics suggests Labour values women on the basis of their biology, rather than their brains.

What woman would want to be chosen as part of a gender-quota scheme?

If Corbyn has a woman problem, it’s because he thinks we need a leg up – it’s not the lack of skirt on his front bench.

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