Support 110 years of independent journalism.

19 August 2014updated 28 Jun 2021 4:44am

Labour MP Austin Mitchell: more women in parliament could be a “worrying matter”

In an odd tirade in the Mail, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby warned that the increasing number of women in the Labour party could weaken parliament.

By Media Mole

The Labour MP for Great Grimsby, Austin Mitchell, who is standing down in 2015, has written an attack in the Mail against the “feminisation” of parliament. He unhappily claims that the Labour party’s “obsession” with all-women shortlists is making parliament preoccupied with social, educational and family issues (the horror), and warns that this increasing number of women would make a future Labour government less able to focus on international issues, and would lessen the quality of “oratory” in the Commons. This is coming from an MP who changed his name briefly to “Austin Haddock” to champion key fishing concerns of his constituents.

He also called female MPs “more amenable and leadable and less objectionable”, aside from any “obsessive feminism”. He also suggested that female candidates are less suited to the “hairy-arsed local politics” of some constituencies, where it would be “better to choose a man”.

His comments caused outrage among MPs from both sides of the House, with fellow Labour MP and senior party figure Tessa Jowell telling the Telegraph that his argument is “complete nonsense, and shadow childcare minister Lucy Powell added, “Austin Mitchell’s sexist and misogynistic comments only highlight further the need for Parliament to modernise and better represent the people of the country, including women and others.”

Tory defence minister Anna Soubry called on the Labour leader to condemn his MP’s remarks: “Austin Mitchell’s at it again, talking nonsense and insulting women with his absurd theories. To say that women don’t care about the big issues is just not true! Ed Miliband should make it absolutely clear he doesn’t agree with Mitchell’s ridiculous remarks.”

Mitchell’s tirade also included criticism of younger politicians apparently being favoured above the “oldies”, cautioning that, “the past has become another party, and Labour’s pool of experience is being drained, which is perhaps just as well because the bright, bushy-tailed new boys and girls think they know it all anyway.”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. Sign up directly at The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Sign up directly at Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Hmm. With unreconstructed views like these, it’s no surprise Mitchell’s decision not to run again in the next general election was apparently met with some enthusiasm by Ed’s office…

Content from our partners
Resolving the crisis in children’s dentistry
Planetary perspectives: how data can transform disaster response and preparation
How measurement can help turn businesses’ sustainability goals into action

UPDATE 19 August, 16:54

Mark Ferguson of LabourList is reporting that a spokesman for Ed Miliband has condemned Mitchell’s view on women in parliament as “ridiculous and wrong”: