This week, David Cameron announced that he is prepared to impose all-women shortlists for the next general election. The Labour Party has already used all-women shortlists and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he would consider introducing them if the number of women MPs in his party didn’t ‘improve’ at the next general election.
The issue that Cameron, Brown and Clegg are attempting to address is the lack of female MPs. They’re also talking about a lack of black MPs at the same time. They see the Commons as unrepresentative of Britain.
According to ONS, there were 1.1 million more women than men in the UK in mid-2007. So with just 20% of MPs being women, the Commons definitely isn’t representative of the UK when we look purely at the figures.
In my view – and please challenge me on this – the Commons is not supposed to be representative of the population, but rather to represent the population. An MP does not have to be able to identify with a constituent, only to empathise with a constituent. For example, if my MP was female I would not consider her less capable of representing me in the House of Commons than the male MP that currently represents me.
A good MP, in my opinion, will act in a manner that is in the best interest of their constituents, regardless of their own gender, race, heritage or religious beliefs. Implementing women-only shortlists should not make any difference to the representation that the electorate have. If MPs feel that the people are not properly represented then that suggests to me serious failings in the MPs themselves, not whether or not they were born with a penis.
Forcing men out of power and allowing more women in will not necessarily improve the representation of the people in Parliament and I challenge anyone who says otherwise to provide evidence that suggests the Commons is likely to be more effective if more of its MPs are women.
By introducting women-only shortlists the political parties are actively excluding some males from the process. This to me is gender discrimination in it’s most obvious form. I remember very clearly as a kid being told that two wrongs don’t make a right. I strongly believe that to be true and consider women-only shortlists proposed by the main political parties to be just that. They are trying to right (what they consider to be) a wrong by openly discriminating against males. That, to me is wrong whatever the intention.
Instead all those wishing to run as PPCs should be judged on their merits, whether they be male or female, ethinic minority or majority. Then leave the public to decide which of those PPCs are deemed worth of sitting in the Commons. The lack of female candidates is merely a sympton of a wider problem. Forcing more women candidates is not a solution – it’s a hypocritical action that damages the integrity of the political system.
So, at least in this election both the Labour Party and the Conservatives have lost any chance of getting my vote by openly discriminating against men with hopes of becoming MPs.
Agree? Disagree? There’s a comments box below… use it.