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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 January 2016

Outrageous attacks on Corbyn for 'sexism'

Policies are what matter for working class women

Hannah Sell

The attempts of the Blairites to undermine Jeremy Corbyn know no bounds. One of their latest ruses has been to accuse Corbyn and his supporters of sexism.

In a piece for Newsnight putting the view of the Blairite women MPs Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, accused female Corbyn supporters of accepting "low level non-violent misogyny" from Jeremy Corbyn.

The only justification given for this slur was that the winners of the Labour leadership and deputy leadership contests - Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson - are both men. Phillips completely ignores the inconvenient fact that Corbyn's front bench is the first that has been majority women.


Phillip's smear is not merely designed to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, but also to try and prevent right-wing Labour MPs from being held democratically accountable to Labour Party members and their constituents.

The Newsnight piece pointed out that boundary changes are going to reduce the number of parliamentary seats and lead to competition between Labour MPs for those that remain.

For the many that have been enraged by their Labour MPs voting for the bombing of Syria or failing to oppose Tory cuts this will be an opportunity to campaign for the selection of an MP who represents their views.

According to Dawn Butler MP, chair of the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party, however, female Labour MPs must automatically keep their seats, regardless of their voting record in parliament!

The hundreds of thousands of people who have been enthused by Jeremy Corbyn's election on an anti-austerity platform will know better than to listen to this nonsense.

Far more women voted for Jeremy Corbyn than for either of the women candidates for Labour leadership. One Yougov poll of voters in the leadership contest in August found that 61% of women polled were planning to vote for Corbyn compared to 19% for Yvette Cooper and a measly 4% for ultra-Blairite Liz Kendall.

They understood that a 10 an hour minimum wage, free education, nationalisation of the railways and the other policies Corbyn stood on would improve the lives of millions of women, whereas the austerity-lite mantra of Labour's right would only make women's lives harder.

In the same Newsnight piece Harriet Harman outrageously declared that: "women's rights are never going to be taken forward by men; only Labour women can do that."

It is vital that the anti-austerity movement and workers' movement do all they can to ensure as many women as possible play leading roles. However, it is not someone's gender which decides whether they are playing a positive role in fighting for women's rights.

The 1945 Labour government only had a woeful three women in its ranks yet there is no doubt that it did more than any other Labour government to improve the lives of all working class people, but especially women. The establishment of the NHS and the mass building of council housing alone transformed the lives of millions.

Contrast that to Britain's first and only female prime minister, Maggie Thatcher, who set out to destroy all the gains made by working class women and men over the previous decades.

It is a sign of desperation that right-wing Labour MPs are attempting to use the false charge of sexism to try and divert attention from the unpopularity of their ideas.

Women anti-austerity activists need to make sure they do not succeed and fight for a Labour Party which stands in the interests of working class women.

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In The Socialist 20 January 2016:

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