I wrote a rant

Published on Facebook on the 18th August, 2017

I wrote a rant.

It still a shock when you are in the Labour Party, you thought you shared values with your male colleagues, then you realise, even whilst you campaign together for an end to poverty being a barrier to aspiration and achievement, there is still an assumption that gender is a legitimate ceiling to ambition.

When you hear that you have “sharp elbows” need to “talk less”, “shut up”, that you are “stupid”, “who does she think she is”, “what does she think she looks like”, “is she pregnant” “why isn’t she pregnant” “why doesn’t she have children – what is wrong with her?”, “why is she fat” “hahaha she is so fat we could sort out the AGM with a football match and put her in goal, nothing would get past her”, “You can’t wear that”, “who the f*ck does she think she is”, “why won’t she do what she is told”, “she should keep her head down if she knows what is good for her”, “I know that ……. (insert name of random bloke) is really controlling her”, “I’ll teach her a lesson”, “watch yourself”, “I know where you live” “I’m going to finish you, and finish your family”, “I’ll skin her alive if she doesn’t do what she is told”, and you know your male peers don’t have to deal with any of it. Sexism in the Labour Party can get a bit exhausting. In person, not twitter. Day after day, year after year.

“It’s hard to tackle intimidation of women – the political dynamics are complex”.

“Are you sure she was telling the truth?”.

Men bitter because of “tokenism”, when they deserve little on merit. Men slapping each other on the back for their brilliant ideas, nicked from a woman they ignored earlier in the meeting.

Sexism is an issue across political groups, across society, but we all join the Labour Party because we want to make the world a better place. Then we realise that, for many men, political leaders can only be men, community leaders can only be men, power can only be held by men.

Making the world a better place seems an unlikely ambition, if we can’t deal with this.

 

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my resignation email to Labour Group

I wrote a long email to my Labour councillor colleagues when I resigned from the cabinet a few months ago.  There is some misinformation going around about what it said, so I am publishing it.

 

Sent on the 8th August, 2017

Dear group,

 

 

I am writing to let you know that I have resigned from the cabinet today. I have got a new job, and the hours aren’t possible.

 

I will of course continue to support the Labour group and leadership, as I have done through my time as a councillor.

 

I have also written to Mile End members today to let them know that I will not be restanding to be a councillor in May.

 

It is time to make space for others to come through.

 

I have loved being a councillor for Mile End since 2008, and the people there have taught me a huge amount. I am very proud of the children’s centre on Joseph street, the outstanding St Paul’s Way secondary school and excellent primary school places created by expanding Wellington Way and Stebon and building a new primary on Burdett, rapidly improving GP surgeries, three new mosques, and the many new social homes that have been built in the ward, all of which I have supported and shaped in different ways.

 

I am most proud of the work I have done to support residents to make their own voices heard during this rapid time of change in our community. Advocating for the people of Mile End will be my top priority for my remaining months as a councillor.

 

I am very grateful to the Labour Group for the roles you have elected me to since 2008, including chief whip, deputy leader and leader, and am particularly grateful for your support in the very tough year after we lost the 2014 mayor election, lost our majority, and then led the political response to the DCLG commissioners.

 

I am proud of the work I led in cabinet, including on the third sector strategy, creating a new process for grants, holding together our family of schools, and putting young people’s voice at the heart of the youth service. I wish I could have done more on children’s social care. I am glad to have worked with the local NHS in recent months on pushing for the local, partnership focus that we know delivers for Tower Hamlets.

 

 

I stood as a councillor because I was appalled by the perversion of politics championed by George Galloway, and wanted to fight for Labour values of equality, democracy and mutual respect in how we did our politics. I spent years fighting the corruption and cronyism of Lutfur Rahman. I still hope that we can do better in how we treat one another, and in putting values into practice in our decision making.

 

I am no longer willing to live with the endemic, vicious misogyny many of us experience. That misogyny manifests itself as “jokes”, undermining and belittling, through to harassment, intimidation and threats. It is about silencing, coercion and control. I have had enough.

 

Ten years of doing battle on these fronts is enough, and I look forward to supporting the next generation of Labour candidates to take Tower Hamlets forward.

People come from all over the world to make better lives for themselves and their families in Tower Hamlets, and it is our job to build their ambition and hard work into a shared future. I’ll be cheering you on.

 

Best wishes,

 

Rachael