Will the next Labour leader be a woman?

The radical choice isn’t another man in a suit

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ELLE Politics Editor Ellie Gellard shares her views on the Labour leadership contest.

You may have noticed four unfamiliar faces dominating the news lately - the blonde, the brunette, the baby face - and that one with the beard. A political ABBA tribute band touring the country hoping supporters will take a chance on them, asking Labour members, ‘Voulez-vous vote for me?’

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As their summer tour nears its end the initial underdog, Jeremy Corbyn, looks like he’ll come out on top.

The left wing rebel stood to simply ‘widen the debate’. No doubt he is now as surprised as anyone at Corbynmania, and the impending reality that he is favourite to become Leader of the Labour party on Saturday. 

I’m getting the vibe that this is a tad inconvenient for JC. During the contest he emailed fellow MPs asking to be nominated for a different job – a place on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

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But if Corbyn himself isn't totally thrilled with the prospect, others are. The Corbyn campaign sells him as a different kind of politician. Radical. Exciting. And many have been convinced.

But is he the radical candidate? 

Spoiler alert: I don't think so...

Labour claims to be the party of equality. They remind us of their history as trailblazers – on workers rights, disability discrimination and, yes, women's issues. But in one crucial area it's a case of all mouth and no trousers – so to speak. Because in its 110 years, this party of equality has never elected a woman leader.

They trail the Tories’ formidable record of one.

In what remains a pale, male and stale Westminster, the radical choice for Labour members this weekend isn’t yet another man in a suit.

The really radical choice is the candidate who can break a glass ceiling and make history. The candidate who has argued for a ‘childcare revolution’ to help women juggle work and family life. The candidate who first called for ‘Britain to be Britain’, and accommodate refugee families in their hour of need. The candidate who has called for protest-free zones around abortion clinics so women don’t face harassment when accessing services. The candidate whose election could show a generation of young girls that women can ‘do politics’ – and be bloody good at it.

That candidate is Yvette Cooper.

This weekend Labour members have the opportunity to finally elect a woman - but not just ‘any woman’. They have the chance to be led by a fiercely intelligent, vastly experienced, fearless one who represents their best chance of victory at the next election and of becoming Labour’s first female Prime Minister… This winner really could take it all.

Is this what a feminist looks like? A brief look at policies each candidate has proposed to support women during this contest:

<font color="#00a8f1">Andy Burnham</font>

Andy has raised the issue of part time work – and the implications on the gender pay gap, as women are more likely to be in such roles.
He wants to extend quality part-time and job share roles and extend the right to request flexible working to the first day of the job.
He has announced that his top team will be 50% women – has promised women the ‘most senior jobs’ and will appoint a woman as Shadow First Secretary of State.

<font color="#00a8f1">Yvette Cooper</font>

With the gender pay gap in her sights, Yvette called for a ‘new Equalities Act to ensure equal pay laws are fit for the 21st Century’.
She has championed a ‘revolution in childcare with free universal childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds’.
And she would introduce protest-free buffer zones around abortion clinics so women don’t face intimidation or harassment.

<font color="#00a8f1">Jeremy Corbyn</font>

Most famously, he called for wider consideration of the idea of all female train carriages. This was in response to a group of women raising concerns about harassment on public transport.
He has proposed an ‘urgent end to…the cuts to women’s refuges and services for domestic violence’.
To combat #everydaysexism, he would promote Personal, Social Health and Economic (PSHE) education in schools, including sex and relationship education.

<font color="#00a8f1">Liz Kendall</font>

Under Liz’s leadership, companies will have to publish their pay gap and an annual audit will ‘analyse the data and make recommendations’.
She would require police forces and the CPS to ‘regularly publish how they perform on violence against women and girls at every stage of the criminal justice system, from report to conviction’.
And she would ‘end the tribunal fees’ that can prevent some women taking their employers to tribunal should they face sexual harassment at work.