Please find below my answers to your questions.
1. Issues that affect women affect us all and speak volumes about our society. That is why I will always speak out on domestic abuse and rape and why I will always speak up for primary carers, the majority of whom are women.
2. During the General Election campaign, the Labour Party did not use the pool of talented, intelligent women that we have nearly enough. That will never happen under my leadership. In 1997, there was that great picture of Tony Blair surrounded by all those women MPs, some entering Parliament for the first time. It was great to celebrate that achievement, but it should have been more than a photo opportunity. We didn’t do enough to support the new entrants into Parliament, those who had worked so hard to get there in the first place. Instead the Labour Party operated a ‘sink or swim’ policy – and we are now reaping the results of that.
I believe we should do more to support women entering politics, whether at local or national level, not just to get them there, but to keep them there. We need to work with our colleagues in the wider Labour movement to provide women with the proper support and training so that we can make a proper investment in the next generation of Labour women.
Under my leadership, I will not only apply the proportion of women in the Parliamentary Labour Party to the number of women in the Shadow Cabinet, but throughout the departmental teams. Not only will this give a greater number of shadow ministerial posts than a 50:50 system, it will also secure succession planning within the Party, ensuring that women are always represented at the highest levels.
3. We must support women at every level of the Party, whether on the National Policy Forum, as Conference delegates or as members of local and national government. But we must not fall into the trap of ‘ghettoising’ women: we should do more to level the playing field, not have men and women playing on different pitches. To do this, we must ensure that all opportunities are available to women, by holding meetings at family-friendly times and venues. I would extend this to Parliament, where I believe we should look at the possibility of remote voting, so that parents are able to do their duty but not miss out on family life.
4. It is shameful that we did not make more of the incredibly talented and capable women of the Cabinet in the last election. It sent the wrong message, it did the Party a disservice and it will never happen under my leadership.
We need to support women who are or would like to be office-holders within the Party, through training, through mentoring and by abandoning forever the ‘sink or swim’ ethos.
5. The Labour Party has to stand for equality and justice, or it stands for nothing. I will work with the NEC to ensure that all complaints are dealt with seriously and in a timely way.
Andy Burnham MP