I opposed black sections in the Labour Party. I oppose all-women short lists. In any union or party election where I am given a vote and my choice of candidate has been pre-determined by race or sex I make a point of spoiling my ballot paper. There are no exceptions to my anti-racism and anti-sexism.
I’ve been a member and/or supporter for a long time, but whatever the “local factors” in Blaenau Gwent, the Labour Party thoroughly deserves the kickings it has received from the people of that constituency because it treated them with contempt and because it attempted to pervert democracy.
Thanks, Damien. I appreciate it.
Making the job more attractive for women, and encouraging more women in, is a nice aim. However it doesn’t work – at least not until you already have women there. The women that currently sit on the Labour benches would not be there without AWS. Since those women have been there, there has been a marked change in the atmosphere in Westminster (less of a gentleman’s club), family-friendly policies have been brought in (not many), and more of the female intake of 97 are in government than their male colleagues, which means that women are more visible at more levels. People are more likely to have a female image of a politician. The single most important factor that is encouraging more women to consider a life in politics is having personal contact with a female MP.
While I think that AWS is problematic – not least because it rouses antipathy in local CLPs (not wholly the fault of the policy I might add…) I would not sacrifice its results to date for anything.
This is backed up by international data – said it lots but there isn’t a democracy that has achieved anything like equal representation without some form of legislation – in the short-term mind you. So in AWS’s favour, it’s temporary, but its effects seem to be more permanent.
Bear in mind that any way to engineer a true meritocracy in Parliament is going to be bad news for men. But hopefully the crap ones will be first out the door – just as your meritocratic medical profession has replaced the poorer male doctors with better women. (I’m aware this is simplistic!) This in itself isn’t sexist – it’s fair and desirable. You could argue that it’s the same with AWS – if Kerron is a good candidate then he’ll find himself a seat. It’s people further down the pecking order who have to worry.
As for opportunity, you say that the fact that small numbers of women are not a problem for women in general. I would dispute that – see above for starters – but the most important thing for me is that if women are selected in only small numbers, it’s a problem for women who wish to be selected! You can’t argue at every election that all the women are newer, and the problem with the ministerial argument is that men who aren’t in government find it easier to get selected than women who aren’t in government.
I’m sorry that the above is disjointed, just a few thoughts. I’m off canvassing now, great!
Squander Two – you might be put off voting Labour by Antonia’s blog, but for every person who takes offence at her not behaving like a typical ‘on message’ politician and actually expressing what she believes in, there are lots more who will be more likely to support Labour exactly because we have people like Antonia (check her election results if you don’t believe me).
Catherine – the only thing I disagree with what you’ve written is that I think there is a problem where there are lots of women who would be extremely good MPs who are put off from standing, so that it’s not just the case that women face discrimination when they stand, but that many are put off even before that stage. All Women Shortlists are not a catch all solution to this problem, but they definitely help.
I think I mentioned that in a previous post, Dan 🙂
I don’t think I suggested that Catherine or Antonia take their blogs down because they were damaging party support.
I didn’t say that, either.
[…] The Party already has majority ownership of Rob Newman’s soul: he works for a Welsh Labour MP and writes this kind of thing in my comments. Neither fact stops me from reading to and linking to his blog. […]
[…] I scrawled through the voting boxes and wrote “THIS BALLOT IS SEXIST” (as if it needed explaining), then I put them both into the prepaid […]