Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Fairness and females

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The current political system is very clearly skewed in favour of men, in terms of style, substance and structures. It is therefore undemocratic, with people chosen for their gender rather than their ability. Its logical to counteract this skewed situation through measures like all-women shortlists (as Labour in Bristol West are planning to use*). To call a measure designed to achieve balance and fairness between men and women sexist, as some do, is to ignore the current bias in favour of men and turn reality upside down. Lets remember that its not so long ago that women had no vote at all! There should not be any need for all-women shortlists but until prejudice is significantly reduced something needs to be done - only 22% of MPs in the House of Commons and 20% of members of the House of Lords are women. Its unreasonable to say, as some do, that MPs who originally became candidates via all-women shortlists are somehow second class - because they have appeared on the ballot paper at a general election and have been put into power by voters in their constituency - presumeably any voter who felt they were not up to the job or were selected as a candidate by an objectionable process woud not have voted for them.

Politics in the UK is often overly and unecessarily macho and confrontational. Parliament has long been acknowledged as a 'boys club' or 'gentleman's club'. This is no way to address and solve problems and in part its down to the skewing of the system to favour men that is clearly shown by the stat that 4 in 5 in Parliament are men, including men with outdated, sexist attitudes. It is suggested that women candidates and MPs as weaker and second rate but many say that the performance of women MPs has been good and that Parliament with more women is better in several respects - a case of prejudice getting  in the way of reason.

There are other unfair aspects to our system. It needs wholesale radical reform
*See: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Bristol-Labour-Party-select-MPs-women-list/story-15155549-detail/story.html