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Owen Smith Says Half of Labour's MPs Will Be Women If He Becomes Leader

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Owen Smith has promised that half of the shadow cabinet and half of Labour's MPs will be women if he succeeds in replacing Jeremy Corbyn as the party's leader.

The Independent also reports that Smith vowed at a speech in Lewisham, south London today to use all-women shortlists in targeted seats until Labour is represented by an equal number of male and female MPs in Parliament.

At present, 43% of Labour's MPs are women, which puts the party closer to achieving gender parity in Parliament than the Conservatives, whose fleet of MPs are 21% female, and the Scottish National Party, whose group of MPs are 36% female.

The Guardian obtained Smith's speech before he made it today and reports that he was due to tell his supporters in Lewisham, "It remains the case that my daughter looks at a world where the gender pay gap is over 19%, and we have a Tory government whose failed austerity programme has seen women worse affected, through cuts to areas like tax credits and child benefit."

"If we are to change this and deliver greater equality, then the Labour party – the most powerful force for good this country has ever known – has to take a lead. A key part of this must be to secure equal representation of women throughout the leadership of our party."

Smith, 46, who has been the MP for Pontypridd in Wales since 2010, is going head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn in a summer-long campaign to become leader of the opposition. Labour party members who joined before January, and registered supporters who paid £25 before a deadline earlier this week, will cast their votes on the 24th of September to determine who wins.

The Guardian reports that the latest poll places Corbyn as clear favourite to be voted leader, suggesting he has more than twice as much backing among Labour party supporters than Smith.
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