Today’s report from LabourToo is enraging and heart-breaking. But, importantly, it is also inspiring
It is enraging for obvious reasons: the dossier reveals a number of harrowing sexual harassment accusations from women within the Labour party. It highlights that, despite the advances we have made over the past 100 years, our bodies are still seen as the property of others who want to wield power over us.
It is heartbreaking that, still to this day, women in the Labour movement are being silenced and excluded from politics by the very men who proclaim they want to work with us to remove misogyny and sexism from society.
But the report is also inspiring. These women had the bravery to speak up about their experiences – and their stories are already motivating a growing number of people to demand change within the party.
Indeed it is now time for the Labour party to act in accordance with our values and ensure a fully independent complaints process is put in place. The Labour movement should be inclusive and safe for everyone who shares our values and wants to be involved in the party.
The report shows that there are systemic failures within our movement to protect and empower women. Labour must take action to ensure there is zero tolerance of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination. This must include the introduction of a credible, reliable system that women can trust – one that does not allow for interference by powerful individuals within party structures.
Iain McNicol’s parting legacy should be a fully independent sexual harassment policy supported by third parties. We need to put the victim before the institution and give confidence to others to come forward. If McNicol made this a top priority before his departure, it would be a bold and welcome statement to women in the Labour movement.
Reports of sexual harassment are not exclusive to the Labour party. There are perpetrators within every major party. But the Labour party, which deeply values social justice and gender equality, should lead the attempts to reform the culture of Westminster, and should be the first to implement a rigorous and independent reports system.
Now is the time for change.
Stephanie Lloyd is deputy director of Progress. She tweets @stephanielloyd1
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