Lord Charlie Falconer has said the fact that Labour has never had a female leader “sends a very bad message” that “makes people wonder” whether the party is sexist.
The former Labour justice secretary told talkRADIO it would be “really good” to have a woman at the helm to show that women and men “have just as good an opportunity to become the leader”.
“The fact that we’ve never had a permanent, as opposed to temporary, leader of the Labour Party who is a woman suggests, particularly to some women, there’s something in the Labour Party that prevents that happening,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.
The race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader is currently being run by one man, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, and three women, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
Lord Falconer’s comments come after party chairman Ian Lavery called on frontrunner Sir Keir to step down from the contest and let a woman win.
Introducing Ms Long-Bailey to a crowd of supporters in Hackney last night, Mr Lavery urged: “We need a female leader of the Labour Party... Stand aside Keir.”
Lord Falconer disagreed with Mr Lavery’s stance that men should not run, but questioned why Labour remains one of the only major parties not to have been led by a woman.
“It’s absolutely clear that we have got women in the Labour Party who are well able to be the leader of the Labour Party – why have they never become the leader of the Labour Party?
“Is it because there is inherent sexism? I don’t know, but that’s the worry.”
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