A female Labour PM is a long way off
The shock result of the 2017 General Election took everyone by surprise. No matter what side you stand on, it cannot be denied that the election and the race to the finish itself was full of drama, backlash, and more importantly, young people.
Aside from Labour’s unexpected success, another record was also broken. We now have a record number of female members in parliament, rising to 208 from 191 in 2015. This means that 32% of MP’s are female – still a long way from being truly ‘equal’, but at least it’s a start…yes?
Labour itself has 45% female MP’s, almost doubling the Conservatives 21%. However, it is still unlikely that we’re going to see a female, Labour (or even other left-party member) Prime Minister anytime soon.
Don’t let these figures trick you into thinking that politics is opening up to women, or more importantly, that there is a place for a more liberal woman in the political field. It’s no secret that the world of politics is harsh, brutal, and full of set-backs. Players need to be tough to stand their ground against an array of opposition which includes the media and public amongst it. Fair enough. But we also associate this ‘toughness’ primarily with men, and more specifically, the right.
Of course, many people argue that because we have a female Prime Minister that the society of UK politics is slowly evolving, and some even argue that it has already done so. In fact, we are drastically lagging behind many worldwide nations, even countries in Africa where female heads of state govern over societies that are considered much less ‘developed’ than our own, and even rife with their own societal problems.
Aside from this, if we look at the two female Prime Ministers we have had, huge similarities also arise. They are considered ‘nasty’ (whatever connotations that may imply), and bitter (Margaret Thatcher benefitted few women but herself, with Theresa May looking to go the same way). They are also both from the Conservative party.
Now, of course having a Labour PM is perfectly plausible, and perhaps even likely considering the results of the last election. But a female Labour PM? Well, that’s another matter. Left party members are already considered ‘weaker’ in a sense, especially if we compare their approaches to taxes and immigration policies. Jeremy Corbyn was attacked for refusing to entertain the idea of ‘pressing the red button’ by members of the public, managing to handle the situation with ease. Can you imagine the response if we changed the sex of Corbyn, and it was a woman being faced the question on how she’d defend national security?
Some may argue that we won’t know the situation until it happens, i.e. until we have a female Labour frontrunner. However, the evidence is already there. Let’s cross the pond, and go back in time to the infamous Presidential election of last year. Hilary Clinton, a Democrat, failed to beat an already hugely unpopular Donald Trump, someone who out rightly condemns women’s rights …yet many women voted for him. Clinton was seen as a weak candidate just because she didn’t resort to the cheap shots and extreme defence plans of Trump, which ultimately cost her the election.
When Clinton made mistakes, they were magnified, despite the ludicrous things that Trump got away with. Now of course, we would like to hope that Trump is an exception, a mistake that shouldn’t have happened. However, back in the UK, look at how Diane Abbott was treated when she flustered with the numbers on TV/radio. Every MP should definitely know and understand their policies, no exception, but I can’t help but wonder if the mistake would have been seen as badly if she were a man. Indeed, when Boris Johnson made that comment recently, almost boasting about the popularity of food banks in London, it was mostly met with the ‘classic Boris’ response. This man – whose comment shows that he clearly has little understanding about the societal pressures of modern day Britain – is supposedly in the mix to be our next Prime Minister.
Sadly, to make it in UK politics, the only personality a woman can have is that of a harsh, somewhat sexless, cold-hearted, and self-centred individual. This attitude may work for some, but often does not coincide with generally fairer and more equal policies associated with the Left and Labour. It seems that a woman needs to be even tougher than her male-counterparts, to prove that she has overcome the emotional and physical burden of being a female by nature…of course.