Last month Keir Starmer spoke at PMQs about the “epidemic” of violence against women and girls in the UK, following the horrific murder of Sarah Everard which sparked an outpouring of collective grief and anger around the country.
The Labour leader spoke of his vision for a “cultural and social” change to bring about long-term improvements by strengthening rights for victims. We welcome the focus on an issue that we as women feel keenly and all too often personally. However, we feel that the Labour Party must first look to set its own house in order – by dealing with the misogyny within our own ranks first and foremost.
We have written to Keir following his comments asking him to urgently address the problems of the abuse, intimidation and harassment of women within our own party. Women have been trying to raise these issues in the Party for many years, but especially since the 2019 Brighton Conference fringe meeting, in which women were left terrified by a large and aggressive mob blocking the entrance and intimidating attendees. This particular incident has never been addressed by the Party.
Keir’s comments also came as misogynistic tweets re-surfaced from Labour’s candidate for Hartlepool, with calls for him to step down. He is far from the only prominent Labour Party member to have fallen far short of acceptable conduct.
Indeed, a cursory google of ‘Labour’ and ‘misogyny’ brings up numerous articles and blog posts with many separate examples of highly offensive language or conduct from party members. Labour women feel unheard and unsupported and are losing faith that the leadership is capable or motivated to bring about real and positive change.
As a new organisation set up to advocate for lesbian members of the Labour party, we would welcome a dialogue with Keir to discuss these matters in more detail. We hope that Keir will take the issues of misogyny within the Labour Party seriously and commit to effecting meaningful change.