We women members (including any who identify as women or as none binary) wish to make clear how disappointed and unhappy we are with the union's choice to announce backing of leadership candidate Kier Starmer at this stage of the contest and in this manner. In particular we are extremely angry that we were not balloted on this hugely important issue.
As feminist, socialist working women we feel that a progressive Labour party has an absolute responsibility, amongst other things, to promote equality and diversity. We therefore take the view that to have another middle class, middle aged, white male leader now, when we are the only party who has never elected a woman and when more than 50% of our current MPs and almost 50% of our last shadow cabinet were women is insulting.
Kier Starmer looks like a leader. He looks like a leader because he is the archetypal leader we have been shown repetitively throughout our lives. The reality of that will never change whilst we continue to perpetuate it and if we expect our standards as a party or as a union on equality and diversity, to be taken seriously, then I think we have as much responsibility to reflect that in our leadership as we do to chose a leader that reflects our membership's political leaning.
Unison has an enormous membership. A membership that is majority women. Women who have long waited to see ourselves reflected in the Labour Party leadership in vain.
As working women members we strongly feel that our voices have not has not been accurately reflected by Unison on this occasion. It is essential that this is rectified. It is essential that we are given the chance to request the change we want to see. It is vital that women, girls, BAME and working class citizens and members are given the chance to affect the change that may allow them to see themselves represented in leadership at the highest level of our movement.
Whilst we have respect for Kier Starmer and understand that many Labour or union members may use their vote to support him, we expect to be asked, and many of us signing this letter may have other reasons not to back his leadership bid. Regardless of where we ultimately chose to place our vote however, we wish to make clear that as fee paying members seeking the solidarity and representation of Unison as our chosen trade union, we expect to be consulted in order to ensure that the backing given is reflective of the full range of views and the diversity of us the members.
We would like our comments registered as a complaint, we expect an inquiry in to the decision to make a choice and statement of this gravitas by committee rather than ballot and we request that this be overturned and a full ballot of members now be made.
Lisa Clarke, Nottingham NUH Branch member