Keir Starmer, wake up! The Labour Party has a woman problem

Keir Starmer, wake up! The Labour Party has a woman problem

May 10, 2021

LABOUR’S crushing defeat in Hartlepool was, famously, its worst result in the region since the Second World War.

So what was the first thing leader Sir Keir Starmer did in the humiliating aftermath?

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Blame the women, of course.

After sacking popular Labour stalwart Angela Rayner and the less popular but still double XX-chromosomed Anneliese Dodds, the ever-relatable Sir Keir is frantically attempting to quash accusations of misogyny in a haphazard Shadow Cabinet reshuffle.

Labour, the party of “equality and fairness”, needs to wake up to the fact it has a woman problem.

The Tories, supposedly the out-of-touch tribe favouring posh white boys, have had two female Prime Ministers.

Labour has yet to elect its first female leader.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour fared just as badly, with several brilliant women quitting under his command.

And two years ago the talented Luciana Berger was mercilessly bullied, while heavily pregnant, for speaking out against anti-Semitism within the organisation.

This is hardly a kindly, liberal party covering itself in glory.

Labour’s first manifesto under Oxford graduate Sir Keir sanctimoniously declared: “At all levels of local and national government, Labour has always been the strongest advocate for greater gender equality.”

Try telling that to Stockport-born, former social-care worker Angela.

Within hours of the Red Wall turning blue, she’d been ousted as party Chair.

The not-so-subtle implication being that, as national campaign coordinator, she was single-handedly responsible for reading the room so badly.

Following an immediate backlash across both Twitter and within the ranks of its own party, Sir Keir hastily backtracked, insisting she was simply being “moved”, not fired.

So much so that yesterday he invented a snazzy, not-so-little title for her.

Introducing the new, (deep breath): Deputy Leader, Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work.

A title J.K. Rowling could consider, should she ever bring back Harry Potter.

Similarly, Anneliese, sacked from her post as Shadow Chancellor, has been wheeled in to replace Angela.

The BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, described the reshuffle as “a very messy affair”.

She was being kind.

The so-called “brains trust”, the think-tank largely guiding Sir Keir, is, surely, ironically named.

TAILORED BLUE SUIT

But for all this talk of misogyny, ultimately the problem remains that the Labour leader, in his £2million North London townhouse, is a shadowy figure to the party’s heartland.

Of course, he can’t help his upbringing, or intelligence — going to one of the best fee-paying independent schools in the country, and many years at the bar — (the legal kind, he’s not really a pub man, as his recent, embarrassing scuffle with a landlord showed).

Sir Keir has been too rarefied for too long.

For a chap who loves a tailored blue suit, he’s been grey for years.

Unlike Boris — with his John Lewis wallpaper, his 73 love children, his untucked shirts and stubborn pot belly, no matter how many runs he goes on — Starmer has no obvious flaws.

Sir Keir “Son of a Toolmaker” Starmer seems a nice bloke.

Lady Starmer seems sweet and unmeddlesome.

He has a fine head of hair.

And, decently, he didn’t attack the Government at the height of the pandemic because, as he rightly explained, none of us could have predicted what was going to happen.

But, as a result, only the equally privileged can relate to the man, or sympathise with him.

We like our politicians with character.

We like thundering Boris because he’s perfectly flawed — like the rest of us.

Poor Starmer is now full of contrition, saying: “I take responsibility, and nobody else.

I lead the Labour Party and it is entirely on me.”

Surely it’s too little, too late.

To paraphrase one angry commentator on Twitter last night, Sir Keir appears to have failed at his first Cabinet reshuffle . . .  he’s still in it.

Yes, yes, Meg, life’s hard – but not for you

PRIVACY-loving Meghan has, once again, bravely appeared on US TV, this time to address how women, especially those of colour, have been unfairly hit by the pandemic.

She is, of course, entirely right, with women almost twice as likely to have lost their jobs since Covid-19 struck.

But the Duchess of Sussex, wearing 23,000 quid’s worth of jewellery, is the last female on Earth who should be lecturing us.

From the confines of her £11million Californian mansion, she has, alongside her husband, amassed a £120million fortune (and growing) over the past 15 months.

“Women, and especially women of colour, have seen a generation of economic gain wiped out,” she declared, with a Hollywood twinkle in her eye.

Coming from an actress who has now landed a publishing deal for her “debut” * book it’s all, quite literally, a bit rich.

*Which, alarmingly, implies a sequel incoming.

Really truly, Jane?

ACCORDING to the improbably beautiful septuagenarian Jane Seymour, the secret to her glossy looks is a £95 hairbrush and some posh shampoo.

The ex-Bond girl gave an illuminating insight into her regime.


In quite the journalistic coup, she told a lucky interviewer: “I wash my hair and condition it every day. It needs colouring. I do have some grey but I’m not fully grey. I’ve kept my own hair.”

Nothing, whatsoever, to do with an eye-lift or a spot of Botox, then.

Either way, it works.

Quite what Henry VIII’s missus, Jane’s namesake of a few centuries ago, inset, would have made of it, who knows.

But to be fair, none of his wives lived long enough to get crow’s feet or go grey.

Whatever.

Henry would definitely have been punching.

Human contact

AS someone with a pathological fear of unnecessary human contact, Health Minister Nadine Dorries’ suggestion that “soon we will all be hugging and kissing again indoors” fills me with horror.

Although looking forward to ditching the mask – my slow blinking, in lieu of a smile, makes me look a bit deranged – I’ve loved every second of social-distancing.

What slurp doc?

TELLY doc Michael Mosley has lifted the saucepan lid on his daily culinary habits.

God. If this is what it takes to be healthy, I’d sooner be 30st and stranded in the Thames (more below).

Firstly, he “self-weighs” every morning.

Breakfast is “kippers with sauerkraut or kimchi”, which he makes himself because it’s “not pasteurised and has billions of microbes”.

This is washed down with “black coffee made in an Italian moka pot”. (Me neither.

Lunch, he says without irony, is a casual soup made from “leftovers, thrown together with legumes, lentils, butternut squash”.

Dinner is basically air. (Cod rolled in seeds).

Dr Mosley, the man behind the monstrous 5:2 diet which requires near-starvation for two days of the week, has also largely given up booze.

"Because it didn’t agree with us”.

You don’t expect a man who made his fortune telling the rest of us to eat less to be chowing on deep-fried Colin the Caterpillars, but a bit of leeway would be nice.

Now, pass me the Chablis and a white chocolate foot.

Single lefties

THERE are gonna be a lot of single lefties out there.

Recently, and depressingly, I was encouraged to join a dating app.

Initially taken aback by the number of profile pictures showing hopefuls hugging an elephant in Bali, now mainly I’m stunned by the number of singletons stipulating: “No Tories”.

But then again, I shouldn’t be.

After all, no one is as close-minded and judgmental as the woke liberal.

Ex-lover chemistry

LIKE six million others, I tuned in to new BBC1 drama The Pursuit Of Love, largely to analyse the chemistry between rumoured ex-lovers Dominic West and Lily James.

Alas, on account of them playing father and daughter, there wasn’t a whole heap.

Instead, star of the show was the ever-brilliant Andrew Scott a.k.a. Fleabag’s Hot Priest.

Honourable mention too to the aquamarine pigeons.

We're all of a blub

NOTHING unites us Brits quicker than a beached whale.

This time it was the plight of a stranded baby minke found stuck in Richmond Lock in South West London.

As hundreds of onlookers gathered, and the forsaken specimen was kindly hosed down, police, firefighters and the RNLI worked into the early hours of yesterday to free it – though last night it finally had to be put down.

And who can forget poor Willy the Whale, who ended up beached in the Thames in 2006, prompting a three-day rescue mission, footage of which made global headlines.

Seems we can all identify with large blubbery creatures scrabbling around out of their depth.

Scotch ‘n’ sour

OBVIOUSLY, like the woman possessed that she is, Nicola Sturgeon is still wanging on about her precious independence referendum.

While nothing in life is guaranteed, we can probably all agree that in ten years’ time Line Of Duty’s “H” will still be on the loose, Harry and Meghan will still be bleating about Press intrusion on their 24-hour news, rolling TV channel, and Nicola, bless her, will still be uttering the words “Scottish referendum”.

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