Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What About 6'2 Audi Driving West Ham Season Ticket Holders?

The Speaker's Conference, which was set up to come up with ideas of making the Commons representative, has just published its interim report. Its conclusions are hardly shocking. They say there ought to be more women in Parliament. I think I have heard that somewhere before. They go on to propose that half of all the remaining seats to be selected should go to women, although so far as I can see they do not propose how this would be achieved. They write...
"Increasing the diversity of MPs would make it a more just, legitimate and effective legislature."

Would it? Would it really? Surely a legislature is effective when it has effective people in it, regardlessof their background. Don't get me wrong. I want to see more women in parliament, but I also want to see more older people in parliament, and no doubt one or two other groups too. But I don't want them to be tokens. They need to be people of judgement, quality and effectiveness. A legislature doesn't automatically become effective just because its members are 50% women, 10% BME, or 10% gay.

Eighty-nine MPs - 13.8% of the total - have already said they will stand down at the next election. Candidates from the same party have been chosen in 49 of those seats, but there are still 40 vacancies. "If just half of the vacant and winnable seats we have highlighted as likely to arise before the next election should be filled by individuals from under-represented groups, the result would be a House of Commons which not only looks different but is likely to think differently, speak differently, and bring to its work the lived experience of a much greater proportion of society," the report said.

But what is an under-represented group? Women, BME, disabled, gay are all obvious ones, but I suspect we can all come up with others. My pet one is older people, but I could equally suggest that 6'2, West Ham season ticket holding Audi drivers are severely underrepresented too. Of course I jest, but you get the point.

If we want to get more women into parliament, we have to persuade them to come forward in the first place. And for whatever reason, they are just not doing so in the numbers that men are. At the moment, political parties are trying to impose a top down approach - all women shortlists, 'A' Lists etc. Both have been effective in getting more women chosen, but are they of sufficient quality? The experience of the Blair Babes would suggest not. What we need is a 'bottom up' approach, where women are persuaded to put themselves forward in greater numbers in the first place. As I understand it, only about 30% of the approved parliamentary candidates for each of the three main parties are women, and that figure hasn't changed much in recent years. If we are to move towards 50% female representation in parliament, I would say a first stage must be to increase the proportion of women on the approved lists. This must not be done at the expense of good men, though. You don't create a high quality parliament by decreasing the quality of the gene pool.

If there were a simple answer to this, some bright spark would have come up with it long ago. There isn't. That doesn't mean we should give up efforts to make parliament more representative. But in the meantime, we must stop coming up with headline grabbing, tokenistic measures, which I believe only serve to put good people off the political process.


71 comments:

Keith Elliott said...

Edward McMillan-Scott? I'd be interested in your views Mr Dale.

Oliver Drew said...

The answer to equality is simple - make things equal!

Equality is not "all-x" lists - you can replace the x with what you like - women, men, black, white, gay, straight it doesn't matter.

I think the general public in general would object to a candidate or list being created/chosen simply because they were a one particular gender or ethnic background regardless of said background. If people are good enough for the job they are good enough for the job (in this case of proposed parliamentary candidate) and that should be the end of it.

In my view, positive discrimination is still discrimintation - and most, if not all, forms of discrimination are bad or at the very least counter-productive.

George said...

Hear Hear.

The prison population is only 5% women. It would be quite a leap to use this as evidence for the need for a quote.

Yes to women, gays, even Westham supporters in Parliment.

No to extreme quotas.

Uncle Bob said...

Any call for white, atheist, working class, right-of-centre, hetero welshmen?

This just seems like a mandate for box ticking. As you argue Iain, surely it should be that the best person gets the job, regardless of their age, sex, level of disability, sexuality, ethnicity or religious persuasion.

The numbers of female, gay, ethnic minority and disabled candidates are increasing all the time and more and more are becoming MP's. But ultimately, it's the public who decide who best to represent them and in that, politicians have no say but are more likely to fail if the public perceives them as trying to foist candidates on them because it'll keep Polly Tonybee happy.

Anonymous said...

Come-on gay men are not under-represented in Parliament!

Out gay men perhaps...

Bardirect said...

If the aim is represent all shades of society then there need to be some more racists as well as people of colour, rapists and rape victims, bent coppers and their victims, meat eaters and vegetarians, these are all course mutually exclusive categories and a proper screening process will be needed to ensure that there is no overlap which would create a democratic deficit for those being represented.

Quite how this sits with a Speaker like Bercow who was once one thing then became another is pretty ironic.

Terry Hamblin said...

Are gays really under-represented? The true number of true gays (not those who have had one homosexual experience in their youth or have been banged up in a woman's prison for years) is less than 1% of the population. They seem more prominent because they hog the media. I am sure there are more than 7 homosexuals in parliament.

Boo said...

While a significant portion of the population are mediocre, a significant minority are below average. These people are under respresented and we must ensure that the number of below average individuals are given their fair allocation in parliment!

Stuart said...

I've just chosen, and have been selected, to stand as a Tory District Councillor in 2011. This is my first ever engagement with politics. I seriously considered Cameron's call for MPs, but honestly, why would you? I've got a good day job and a generally great life.

I am white, 46 and solvent. My wife, and every female friend of hers, thinks that I'm mad. "Too much like hard work", "What difference can you make", etc etc.

We have elections. They deliver democracy. If the electorate want a different representative, then they can vote for one. Of course I'll be working hard to make sure that they will value my contribution and vote for me.

Off topic, keep up the great radio work!

Mark M said...

I don't know. I kind of enjoy seeing token characters.

You see them on leaflets for universities and colleges e.g. a group of young people walking along laughing with always exactly 1 of them being black, the asian student in front of a bunsen burner (this one you see all the time).

It might be nice to see it work in the Commons. "Mr Cameron has raised a gay issue. Could the only gay in the parliament please give his response, because of course he/she represents all gays everywhere and we don't stereotype at all".

Inspector Morse said...

Iain,

It's a pleasure to be able to post a comment saying that I entirely agree with you, after our last disagreement!

Except, I have no idea what a BME is. I even tried a search on Google using "BME". Please elaborate what this TLA means.

Stevo Bevo said...

This whole tokenism idea is SO unfair. Am I to be debarred from candidate selection merely because there is already a massive overrepresentation of complete wankers in the Commons?

Cynic said...

As a punter who votes for members and pays for all this I want to select who goes there and not have some quango or party tell me who it should be. That's how this democracy thingy works.

And like you Iain my first criteria are that they are competent and honest. After that I dont care about their sexuality, race, religion or anything else. Its their capacity and character I am interested in but I do want to a see a House that is collectively diverse and representative and where those who aspire to be MPs ahve a chance to comete openly and on a level playing field. Single sex lists dont allow this.

Look at the Blair Babes who came in with this shower. Aside from a few who showed real merit most were mediocrities. Jacket fillers dragged out for the optics (as they say in the Government Communications trade) and firmly under the control of the whips.

Anonymous said...

I am sympathetic to your argument but I'm not sure you make it that well when you say:

"I could equally suggest that 6'2, West Ham season ticket holding Audi drivers are severely underrepresented too."

The obvious reply here is that there is no historical record of 6'2 West Ham season ticket holding Audi drivers being discriminated against. That is why the question of their representation does not arise.

Anonymous said...

The problem is basing quotas on just gender, sexual orientation and race/culture can lead to an eqully unrepresentative parlaiment.

What about other factors - school (comprehensive/grammer/public?); job (white collar/manual, public/private, senior/junior level?)

Would a black, lesbian MP who was a barrister/PR spokesman/policy wonk/party apparatchick be any more 'diverse' than a white middle aged heterosexual man who had been educated at a comprehensive school and worked as a nurse/plumber/sales representative?

I think not.

Ivor Biggun said...

Iain: "But what is an under-represented group? Women, BME, disabled, gay are all obvious ones"

Gayers underrepresented? Pull the other one Iain. Political parties, Westminster and even local council chambers in my experience all have plenty of gay representation - not all of it officially out, but there is no shortage.

I sometimes wonder why politics seems to attract so many gayers. Gy people do have an advantage in politics in that not having (in the main) the burdens of raising children they have the time and the money to spend networking in politics, plus a ready-made self-supporting and promoting group of like-minded gayers - not unakin to an undercover Masonic style back-scratching society (in more ways than one!).

Please don't try to attack me as being homophobic - far from it - these are legitimate reflections from my own years of experience.

I really don't mind what gay people or anyone else gets up to in the privacy of their bedrooms - and am at a loss as to why so many gay people, including yourself, seem to have such a fixation about being gay - your sexuality is no more or less interesting than your sex, ethnicity, height, weight, etc. - none of which anyone needs to be fussed about!

Yak40 said...

Parliament seems to be mostly a rubber stamp for Brussels anyway and if Lisbon gets ratified parliament will be not much more than an old county council so we know the type it'll attract.

Anonymous said...

Will the Labour Party be offering Sarah Palin a safe seat?

Or is it only Wimmin without diverse views who can be diverse candidates?

How about some Pro death penelty candidates?

Andrew said...

Off topic Ian (and happy birthday, btw) but here's the latest on the Norwich North campaign from the local paper -

http://tinyurl.com/kq9uvl

Labour have hit the panic button!

Stevo Bevo said...

***I really don't mind what gay people or anyone else gets up to in the privacy of their bedrooms - and am at a loss as to why so many gay people, including yourself, seem to have such a fixation about being gay - your sexuality is no more or less interesting than your sex, ethnicity, height, weight, etc. - none of which anyone needs to be fussed about!
***

Silly comment, Ivor Biggun. Because many people DO mind what gayers get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms.

If you feel the need to specify that you don't mind what they get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms, I think we can deduce that you do mind what they get up to outside the bedroom.

Can we further presume that, when someone comes up to you at work or wherever to inflict the latest photos of their kids on you, or someone circulates a card for a colleague's forthcoming wedding, you tell them to go away because people's heterosexuality should stay in the privacy of the bedroom?

Perhaps Iain will no longer need to discuss gay issues should the day ever dawn when no-one is crassly two-faced enough to say things like "I don't mind what they get up to in the privacy of the bedroom".

Stevo Bevo said...

***I really don't mind what gay people or anyone else gets up to in the privacy of their bedrooms - and am at a loss as to why so many gay people, including yourself, seem to have such a fixation about being gay - your sexuality is no more or less interesting than your sex, ethnicity, height, weight, etc. - none of which anyone needs to be fussed about!
***

Silly comment, Ivor Biggun. Because many people DO mind what gayers get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms.

If you feel the need to specify that you don't mind what they get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms, I think we can deduce that you do mind what they get up to outside the bedroom.

Can we further presume that, when someone comes up to you at work or wherever to inflict the latest photos of their kids on you, or someone circulates a card for a colleague's forthcoming wedding, you tell them to go away because people's heterosexuality should stay in the privacy of the bedroom?

Perhaps Iain will no longer need to discuss gay issues should the day ever dawn when no-one is crassly two-faced enough to say things like "I don't mind what they get up to in the privacy of the bedroom".

Anonymous said...

People like Jacqui Smith?

I have to say that I have a soft spot for Jacqui (and her cleavage!) but I am not convinced she is very good in the House of commons.

Joe Public said...

This report implies that those electors with a male MP are less-well served than if they had a female MP.

Anonymous said...

What about us short arses, it's well documented how discriminated against we are. It forces us to become jumped up little pricks like that Burqa fella.

Roger Thornhill said...

This is all about divide and rule and having to ask permission to stand for parliament.

Instead of voting for the person you want, you many be presented with a choice between three infamous "black one-legged blind lesbian"s. Such people will "owe" "the system", basically the Fabian Fifth Column their seat and you can work the rest of it out.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

I am most disappointed in the quality of the previous comments I see.

Nobody has yet blasted the "ZaNuLab feminNazis" who are, unquestionably, at the root of the problem. Especially as seen from Tory chat-sites.

On the other hand (and I don't really mind who sits on my other hand), I think a sub-editor for a respectable column would blanch at: The experience of the Blair Babes would suggest not. What we need is a 'bottom up' approach.

Equally, there are a lot of us out here who would feel it about time that Parliament had a dose of the "equal opportunities" quota stuff that's been good enough for the rest of the public sector. And, no, that didn't start as recently as 1997.

Ah, the sexism of sexism, saith the preacher ... all is sexism.

John Moss said...

Any pandering to the idea of "under-representation" is a falsehood. Discriminating in favour of one race/sex/sexuality/culture/creed, discriminates against those not included.

It is socialism writ large, namely that what matters is equality of outcome. Ability and effort don't count, you are defined by what you are not what you wish to make of yourself.

We should deride such nonsense every time it raises its truly ugly head and insist instead on equalising opportunity through teaching english to everybody and schooling people properly so they can read, write and add up.

Remember the equality depicted in teh film Logan's Run? Everybody was equal. raised, taught, fed, housed and entertained by the state - which murdered you when you turned 30!

Anonymous said...

The best way to achieve a balance in parliament would be to have unequal pay. So, for instance, you have a basic MP salary, and add on top a bonus for the categories that you would like to see better represented.

The nice thing about this approach is that it in theory attracts higher calibre woman/black/gay/older candidates without the need for "positive" discrimination.

Of course, the equality lobby would be horrified, but to my mind it's better to include an e.g. female candidate who's attracted by the higher salary than exclude a male candidate just because he's male.

It would probably require a few parliaments to reach the requisite levels, though, not the instafix (or instabreak, usually) that the current lot are used to.

Not a sheep said...

There is a definite shortage of Capra aegagrus hircus in the House of Commons and far too many Ovis aries.

davidc said...

'The obvious reply here is that there is no historical record of 6'2 West Ham season ticket holding Audi drivers being discriminated against.'

this is an absolutely shocking example of discrimination. we should all hang our heads in shame and press for an 'all 6'2" west ham season ticket holding audi drivers' short list to be introduced prior to the next ge.

Sean Haffey said...

There is a big issue getting women to sign up.

I have a good friend who was until recently the UK FD of a very well-known international. She took redundancy when they moved their European HQ to Europe.

I've several times tried to get her to put herself forward as a candidate - for any party. Her response has consistently been - despite the evidence - "they don't want people like me". She'd make a great MP, but how to persuade her, and others like her?

Rex said...

Totally off topic Ian but I couldn't resist it:-

Jonathan Miller on the Blairs at First Post

"Miller turned his attention to the later occupants of Number 10, the Blairs.

"Well, I have a deep disdain for them. I couldn't bear that grinning, money-hungry, beaming, Cliff Richard-loving, Berlusconi-adoring, guitar-playing twat. I suppose I would say that, at the risk of being inoffensive. No, it's that beaming Christianity and that frightful wife with a mouth on a zip-fastener right round to the back of her head. And both of them obsessed with being wealthy.

"And he got us into this disastrous war with Iraq because he had consulted with God. Like Bush. Well, anyone who claims to do something on the basis of a personal relationship to a non-existent deity..."

For the full interview go to:
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/50683,news,jonathan-miller-on-the-money-hungry-blairs-the-grinning-twat-and-his-frightful-wife

Dick Puddlecote said...

I also want to see more older people in parliament.

Agreed, Iain, MANY more older MPs, I'd say. The fact that someone very capable like Ming Campbell can be ousted as a leader for being too old, only to be replaced by someone younger but not as effective or knowledgeable, goes against the whole ethos of parliament IMO.

Surely to run the country we want the best, not just those who fit into an idealistic cubby-hole.

MikeyP said...

Given the performance of the Blair Babes (now metamorphosed into the Brown Old Boilers) over the last 12 years, it is difficult to argue logically for 50% quotas of wimmin!

Andrew K said...

It can't be yourself you're referring to Iain. It's a well-known fact that you are 5' 3", drive one of the few remaining Morris Marinas and support Tranmere.

Chas said...

Iain, you say, "That doesn't mean we should give up efforts to make parliament more representative". Representative of what, exactly? Presumably you mean representastive of the population. Well, 50% of the population has an IQ of 100 or below, and frankly that's quite thick. I know that most Labour backbenchers fall into that category, but we do not want any more stupid people. I think we are getting confused between ideas on the one hand of "representative democracy" and our "elected representatives" and, on the other hand such representatives being "representative" of the population as a whole. We do not call for company chairmen, barristers or bishops to be more "representative", we call for them to be competant. It should be the same for MPs. We need qualities of good judgement, courage, leadership, fairness, honesty - a sort of anti-matter version of Gordon Brown. Your correspondent "Bardirect" below makes a similar point: if we want people who are representative of us, then we need to throw in bags more racists, thugs and other undesirables.

Disco Biscuit said...

I always thought it was for the electorate to choose whoever they so wished to represent them in Parliament, not for the Parliament to determine who should be elected to it.

strapworld said...

Could anyone enlighten me how the large number of women MP's on the Government side have changed Parliament.

What legislation have they been instrumental in bringing?

The problem with all this nonsense is that we get people made candidates for the wrong reasons...ie. they are women, black, asian,homosexuals, transexuals,disabled,dyslexic,welsh speaking,scottish, irish,
(NOT English!!)

What we want are Candidates who will speak for their constituents. Who will contribute. Who have their own idea's. Who are able to stand on their feet and speak.

But we want far fewer of them.

Demographic Dave said...

If I had the choice of being represented by a 6'2'' Audi-driving West Ham season ticket holder or a left-handed black Irish lesbian single parent with anger management issues, I would choose the latter. More likely to know what she is talking about.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain said "I want to see more women in parliament, but I also want to see more older people in parliament, and no doubt one or two other groups too."

Older people? The average age of Tory MPs is currently around 136 or something as it is - should we start digging up dead politicians now?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I have absolutely no objection to 6'2" Audi driving WH season ticket holders going straight to the top of the A list, even if they are also gay, and welcome the idea.

They must promise me, however, to refuse the office of Minister for Culture if such a post is offered, or we shall all be forced to listen to Cliff or worse, they will stop having books in schools.

Bird said...

I want our MPs to be the best people available and if they happen to be white middle - aged men, so be it.
PMQs show up the drab New Labour benches with scores of dreary women and ethnic minority types who find it difficult to read out planted questions for the Dear Leader.
What next for Harperson? Quotas of muslims, gays and jews in Manchester United's first team?

Anonymous said...

At July 15, 2009 3:45 PM , Anonymous Joe Public said...

"This report implies that those electors with a male MP are less-well served than if they had a female MP."

Of course they are, and the children, and the elderly and .... Does anyone seriously doubt that middle-aged men on good salaries believe that what is good for them is good for all the rest of us? And that their lack of knowledge and understanding needs some counterbalancing?

Of course, the female MPs need to have space to do their jobs properly. Does anyone believe that the Blair babes were selected and promoted for their ability to change things? -- or were they heavily filtered to ensure that the gravy train wasn't rocked?

And now post-Blair, it is pointless to argue about women's abilities based on the evidence of people picked and sacked by Gordon Brown.

How do we get more good women candidates? The essential step is to ensure that plenty of good women get onto the lower rungs of the ladder. Local government meetings need to be held at family friendly times. Experience at public life tasks often done by women needs to be weighted the same as equivalent ones usually done by men.

Local party associations need to look carefully at the demands they are making on the time of all candidates, as otherwise we only ever get to vote for people with not much in the way of family or social life to keep them connected to the "real world".

But basically we need society to change. As long as the norm is that women already have two jobs, one outside the home and one inside while their partner sits slumped on his spreading rear end, there will be few women with the spare capacity to engage fully in politics. The "Too much like hard work" anecdote cuts both ways -- why doesn't the wife have the time and energy? I hope it is because she has too many other satisfying hobbies filling all those hours the man has to give.

Anonymous said...

The Conservatives have been forced to forfeit the leadership of their new Euro-sceptic grouping in the European parliament in order to prevent it from falling apart in its first few days.

Timothy Kirkhope, the Tory leader in the chamber in Strasbourg, had to surrender the leadership of the new group to the Polish MEP, Michal Kaminski, after a row that was triggered when Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott defied the party whip and stood for one of the vice-presidency posts in the new parliament, despite Conservative pledges last week that Kaminski would be supported for the post. Kaminski's bid for a vice-presidency then failed.

McMillan-Scott ignored pleas from David Cameron to make way for Kaminski. The Polish MEPs then threatened to abandon the new caucus of "European conservatives and reformists" on its very first day unless Kaminski was made the group leader in the parliament, and rejected Kirkhope's plan to share the group leadership with him. The 55-strong grouping is the fourth biggest caucus in the new parliament and the Tories are the strongest national contributor.

Gareth said...

As with the Armed Forces, Fire service, Police, NHS and whatever else, first and foremost should be 'Are they competent' not what they have between their legs, their skin colour, gender or anything else. An accurate reflection of society is easier to achieve than a House or service filled with competent people - that is why they major on the former and ignore the latter.

Perhaps even, they cannot say with any authority what a competent MP would be. They themselves are nigh on useless Statists determined to abandon every vestige of sovereignty we give them and abrogate their responsibilities to this nation and to the public services.

The MOD is failing because Parliament has refused to set in stone what is required of it and see that the correct equipment is procured. Education has been left to unaccountable welfarist prats who wouldn't know responsibility if it smacked them on the arse. Stop infantilising the population and maybe they would behave better. The NHS is withering under the weight of specious targets, management bullshit and the wrong priorities. All because those in Parliament would rather see their work extend no further than setting up a quango and handing over our money.

Alex said...

"The obvious reply here is that there is no historical record of 6'2 West Ham season ticket holding Audi drivers being discriminated against. That is why the question of their representation does not arise."

There was undisguised discrimination against the Old Etonian candidate for Speaker. Are you suggesting we should have more Old Etonians in Parliament?

Non Runner said...

You want to see more older MPs? You're kidding, right? Average age of an MP is 50.5. Average age in Britain is 39.

Anonymous said...

Very glad to see so many sensible comments on here.

Positive discrimination is wrong, completely wrong.

If a black, disabled lesbian would make a better representative of constituents than a white, able-bodied male, then she deserves to be an MP more than him. That's the end of the story.

To suggest that she should be there ahead of the man in the example for any reason other than her ability is outrageously patronising to her.

Discrimination on the basis of merit is fine but let's not accept these wicked proposals from Labour which condone unequal treatment rather than promoting it (the irony of the title 'Equality Bill' is lost on the legislators, it would seem).

As a Tory-leaning voter, I hope the Conservatives continue to oppose this every step of the way. If Cameron starts pandering to women, homo- or transsexuals, the disabled or ethnic minorities, I will be distinctly unimpressed.

If politicians want a fairer society (a moot point...) then start by scrapping a scheme which espouses unfairness.

Flemingcrag said...

The biggest unrepresented group in Parliament just now are those who have had experience of running a successful business, either as the owner or at some reasonable level of management.

This situation is going to get worse as Labour push through their "class war" action to stop all MPs from holding any outside business interests. The career politician who since leaving school/university has never worked a day in his life outwith the goldfish bowl of being a politician will rule supreme.

The concern is not the gender balance of MPs it is whether they have any experience of working life as we know it. It is this sole political route to Parliament that has given us the current crop of "political pygmies" and look what that has led to.

Until a rule is introduced banning anyone from Parliament until they have reached their 40th birthday and tasted the challenge of earning a crust through hard work this Country will continue to be mis-ruled by a bunch of elitist geeks that specialise in looking after number one.

Bran E. said...

I don't care who represents me in Parliament as long as the person is honest, has integrity, wishes to serve the Country rather than just "having a job" and is well qualified for the position. (And I don't mean a degree in Political Science or Media studies!). Unfortunately, I believe about 95% of existing MPs fail on one count or another

Raedwald said...

BME? BME? BME is sooo yesterday in the lexicon of political correctness; using it marks one out as an unreconstructed neanderthal, like talking about 'coloured' people, or the 'handicapped' (instead of the differently abled).

From 2007, the official PC acronym is 'BAME' - Black, Asian and minority ethnic.

I've just won a contract using 'BAME' in my equalities pack.

Anonymous said...

There was me thinking that our MPs were chosen by the people in a vote. That they were chosen to represent the views of the electorate and not to fullfil party quotas.

I heard that my County Council has been paying £thousands for Leadership for Women courses. I asked if these were women that only manage other women...answer no. So why the need for a special course answer because women have different issues. OK so how many Leadership for Men courses are being held....answer none that would be sexist. Right nice one KCC, great use of taxpayers money, raised your expenses 8% you say!

sobers said...

Given that approx 2.5% of the population is actually gay, why should Parliament be 10% gay?

Anonymous said...

Since Harriet Harman is so keen on diversity within Parliament, how about we balance up the quota of non-career Politicians.

Let's have a lot more people who've actually had a real job in a career outside local Government and the Unions. Let's have more people who've worked hard and paid full tax all thier lives, who have experience of real people outside the Westminster bubble, who can put a different perspective on the world.

Perhaps we could have fewer little rich kids playing the game of Government. Perhaps Harriet could be one of the first to stand down and let a real working class woman take a place in the Commons...

Old Codger said...

To get an effective parliament first remove all career politicians then insist that all applicants have achieved some success, even as a ship's steward, in the real world before they will even be considered for party support.

Church of England said...

I don't believe in civil partnerships and would like to see a return to traditional Christian values in this country.

I want Section 28 brought back as this would stop the promotion of homosexuality in our schools.

Dr Who said...

Iain sometimes I don't think you understand politics at all.

Anonymous said...

"As with the Armed Forces, Fire service, Police, NHS and whatever else, first and foremost should be 'Are they competent' not what they have between their legs, their skin colour, gender or anything else."

By George, he's got it! That is all that people lacking that piece of flesh between their legs and/or having the wrong skin colour etc are asking. Please, please judge us on our real actual competence, and not on an imaginary picture of "all women" or whatever.

Secondarily, it helps if we are not only evaluated fairly for the plum jobs, but that we also get a fair chance on the essential preparatory steps to gain experience for those plum jobs. Sometimes that may (Horrors!) mean changing the way those preparatory steps are organised so that they are not in practice an effective sieve for "being one of us" with a very narrow view of "us".

Paul Donnelley said...

In principle there is nothing wrong with the suggestion that we should have more women in parliament - it is just that the ones we do have are with one or two exceptions completely bloody awful. If you were a successful businessman (or woman) would you hire Jacqui Smith or Patricia Hewitt (if they lost their contacts book, that is)?
The best person should always be hired for the job irrespective of colour, creed, sexuality or any other label we want to add.
It's funny it's only in the public sector that we get this nonsense - no one suggests that big corporations or even football teams should hire people because their company or team is underrepresented... although it might explain why Spurs have been so crap for so lohg....

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, where can you get a 6'2 Audi ? I thought those dreadful things were made by Mercedes ?

Alan Douglas

Sentient WV : ingfra (dig) !

nought.point.zero said...

If there was ever a minority that deserves a good deal of discrimination heaped upon it, West Ham fans is it ;)

jojoko said...

Does that mean there should be a group of schizophrenics, a group of BNP MPs etc, in the proportion they make up society? All the Blair Babes ever did was ask planted questions at PMQ and moan a lot. This hasn't been thought through, just like normal.

Simon Gardner said...

I’m absolutely 100% for 50% representation by women in the House of Commons by any means necessary.

It comes as absolutely no surprise that the Tory party is not.

Rebel Saint said...

Given that most of the population voted conservative at the last election, aren't they under-represented?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it matters. MPs don't represent their constituents anymore. Instead, they do what their Political party and their Whips want them to. So, MPs could be little green men from Mars and it would make no difference. Plus most of our laws come from Brussels anyway, making Parliament increasingly irrelevant.

jojoko said...

Dearest Simon, I'm not a Tory, nor am I a Socialist, Greenie or a member of the Monster Raving Loonie Party. I'm a floating voter who believes in democracy and at the moment there is very little of that to be seen. Look at the cabinet and the people Bilbo Brown surrounds himself with, not very many women there or members of the ethnic community are there? The Tories managed to be the first and so far last party to elect a female leader and actually establish her as leader of the country. Targets and repressive measures are not democratic and do not create the best of anything, especially government. And as for any gender bias, I am a woman and an old one at that.

Major Plonquer said...

I'd settle for a quota of smart people. How about minimum entry requirements - such as a post graduate degree?

Sorry but having tits is not a qualification for this job. For several others it is, but not for MP.

Major Plonquer said...

SHOCK!!! HORROR!!!

People In Politics Discover Difficulty Getting Women To Do Something....

READ ALL ABOUT IT.....

Philipa said...

Give me a safe seat and I'll do it.

I'm a woman, last time I looked. Can I be speaker next year?

Philipa said...

I forgot to mention that I was a working class woman but am now a member of the 'underclass' so, on another contributors suggestion, Harriet Harperson could give up her seat to me. But as it wouldn't achieve the objective to oust a woman I would prefer another safe seat in which you could put a rosette on a pole and be voted in. Thank you.

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