This piece in today’s Guardian offers some analysis of the rounds of voting in yesterday’s ballot on gender balance in the shadow cabinet.
In a series of votes on how to reform the party while it is in opposition, Labour MPs declined to reduce the size of the shadow cabinet to 23 places from the present 26 – larger than that of the government’s cabinet of ministers by three.
The defeat of gender parity was described by shadow work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper as “disappointing”.
Harman had called for a 50:50 split in the early days of her tenure as acting leader but with time softened her position.
Instead, she proposed the initial proportion should reflect that of the parliamentary party at large — 31.5% — but rise to 50% over the course of this parliament.
In the event, MPs opted only for a quota of 31.5% with no possibility of the compulsory ratio increasing with time. MPs had disliked the proposal, saying men would be forced to contemplate vacating their shadow cabinet portfolios to make way for women over a period of time. An alternative vote system was used, and while equal numbers supported the 50:50 option and the 31.5% option, in the second round more MPs opted for the lower quota.