Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

Posts Tagged ‘Equality’

COMMENT: Scrap All Women Shortlists

In M. Davies on March 25, 2015 at 12:59 pm

by Mat Davies from Monmouth, currently resident in Japan. Mat posted this on 5/2/15, 10 days before a speech to the Japanese Women’s Association.

Despite the incoherent arguments of celebrities such as Russell Brand, a constitutional environment exists for any person who wants to influence mainstream political parties, and therefore British policies. Because of this, it is time for someone to speak out against the Orwellian DoubleSpeak term known as positive discrimination. All politically unethical actions tend to be justified in the name of ethics. And AWS are no exception. It undermines the democratic framework within mainstream parties and also fails to empower the feminist movement its supporters claim to champion.

The lack of women in positions of influence is historically alarming. However, do the mainstream political parties in the UK welcome both genders as members? The answer is yes. Secondly, are there any constitutional barriers to women gaining key positions within political parties? No, there are not. Women can be voted into key positions on Executive Committees or Policy Forums, or as representatives at the British, devolved, or European Parliament.

Since, the principle of equality of opportunity is adhered to across all mainstream political parties; there is only one reason which explains why women are unable to match their male counterparts in parliament. It is that not enough women are joining political parties and supporting other women within the party in achieving their goals. Despite my efforts, I have not been provided with the ratio of men to women within British political parties. However, as a former Secretary of a Constituency Labour Party, it was always clear to me, that there were not enough women in the party.

That is worrying because representatives need to be selected by the party before he or she gets the chance to be elected by the public. That vote is done through a election among members within the political parties. If the number of women within the party falls short of men, so too will the interests of women. The problem is therefore not inside the party political system, but outside of it. Yet, the push for AWS has been relentless, and has side-lined an important debate we should be having about how to welcome more women into politics. Simultaneously, Militant feminism has found a home with AWS by addressing the symptom of the problem and not the disease.

This can be clearly observed in Wales where the Welsh Executive Committee has already decreed that winnable seats should be contested only by women. One prominent Assembly Member has gone further and argued that all selected parliamentary candidates in Wales should be chosen through an AWS. This would effectively exclude the male gender from representing an entire Nation. I fail to understand how this could be perceived as anything less than extreme. In my role as a councillor for a European Economic Forum, and former Constituency Secretary I had many conversations with male and female party supporters, members and observers who thought AWS immoral. Unfortunately, speaking out was too risky, and endangered the support they needed to achieve their goals within the party.

AWS are creating a new kind of social exclusion. It is time that policies focused on the disease of gender inequality, and not the symptom. The bottom line is that a framework already exists for women to push their interests. However, militant feminists are indirectly ignoring the women who deserve to be empowered by looking inwards, rather than outward in our communities. What is needed is a policy which reaches out to women across the social spectrum and explains how they can make a difference.