Lack of female Labour leader ‘a huge deal’ for party, says Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

A certain view of what a Labour leader looks like has helped prevent the party elect a woman to the role, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has said.

The shadow levelling up secretary, who launched her run for party leader in 2020 in the Wigan Observer, described the fact Labour has never elected a female leader as “pretty existential”.

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In an interview with Gloria De Piero on GB News, she said she believed a woman would one day lead the party.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy
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She told the programme: “It’s pretty existential for us. I joined the Labour Party because I believe in equality and because I want to fight poverty and because I believe and know this country can be better. So it’s a huge deal for us.

“I think there will be a leader, at some point, who’s a woman, but I think there’s a problem and I’ve got a bit of an insight into it, having been through that experience.”

Ms Nandy came third in the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn, but has been a prominent member of Sir Keir Starmer’s frontbench since then.

She said that “when people look for the next leader of the Labour Party, they’ve got in their mind a view about what that is based on what it’s always been”.

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“I felt that very much when I went for selection in Wigan in 2010. We’d never had a woman MP here in the whole history of parliamentary democracy.

People were looking for the next MP, they were looking for the next guy, the next older guy who could do it, and I think that was the problem, actually.

“There were a lot of members who said to me, ‘You don’t look like a prime minister, you don’t look like a leader of the Labour Party’, and I know exactly what they meant and it’s depressing.”

But Ms Nandy said that was changing, even if there was still work to do ensure women are represented in politics.

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“The young women in particular won’t have it and there are lots of young women in our party now who are starting to change the game. So I think it’s shifting. But we have got to vote for more women,” she said.