Friday, 21 May 2010


I was impressed with the solid good sense of Libby Purves in The Times the other day, brought to my attention by my mother. She wrote a sterling piece with which I agree completely (as does my mum).

Why on earth are we still whining about how many women there are in the Cabinet, or in senior Civil Service jobs? I could have understood it 40 years ago, but now with girls doing better at school than boys; going o
n to university and being entitled to equal opportunities and pay, and frankly more than equal opportunities in some jobs. So why, oh why, are we still talking about “all-women shortlists” and female quotas?

I would agree that government would be the better for having a wide range of input, but we live in a democracy... or so we are told. Nothing stops women... or anyone else putting themselves forward to parties for nomination to vacant seats; nothing, if they are chosen, stops them from standing; they can even, if the party is not interested, stand as independents. If elected they can be promoted into ministerial or shadow ministerial roles and in the end become cabinet secretaries.

One of the best politicians in Britain today is Nichola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health. And we know that Thatcher, whatever else she did, managed to get to the top in London, despite the Tory Party of the 1970s being
hardly receptive to the idea of women or change.

Why then do people like Harriet Harman bang on so about all-women shortlists? Her enthusiasm for them indicates that she imagines that women would not be chosen unless there were nothing BUT women to choose from.

It is so degrading to women, (not to say discriminatory to men). And where does one stop with all this equality nonsense? Was Harman serious when she said that from now on there should always be a man and a woman at the top in the Labour Party? For an obviously intelligent woman she says some daft things. She wants women’s opinions to be heard... so what about
minority ethnic groups, what about gays, what about people with disabilities, people from each generation? Should we have all of them at the top? Should there be all-Christian, or all-black (no silly, not the kiwi type) lists, what about all-working class lists? What nonsense.

People of talent will rise to the top in politics. Poor people, women, short men, gay people, and black people may find it harder... but maybe that’s because members of the public feel happier with a white, straight, middle class male as their MP.

Pics: Libby Purves, Harriet Harman with two other feminists, and the picture of the Israeli cabinet that orthodox newspapers altered, removing women.


  1. Most women have more sense than to go into politics. It's a boys club.

  2. Harriet Harman is hardly one to talk, despite her best efforts there are less women in the parliamentary Labour Party now than there were in 2005. And her husband Jack Dromey was parachuted into a safe Labour seat on an all male shortlist. And she didn’t exactly stand up for Caroline Flint when she said that women in Gordon Brown’s cabinet were so much window dressing. A great example of a talentless and moribund government that has been in power far too long (thanks to FPTP) haemorrhaging principles and convictions left right and centre.

  3. I'm afraid I'll have to give this a bit more thought. It's all very well saying that women should work but then who would do the cleaning, ironing, washing up and have a hot meal ready for the man when he staggers home from the pub?

  4. Morning SR: I doesn't have to be a boys' club as brilliant politicians like Nichola Sturgeon have proved. There are many other examples of first class female politicians too. My own MSP, Shona Robison is superb. She started as a list member; she worked so hard for people in her area and when she stood as a constituency member she was elected overturning the Labour member who had been MSP and previously MP for the area for years.

    I'm sure there are women from other parties too that are excellent.

    The trouble is that promoting people on the basis of their sex is dangerous for both them and for the people they serve, us!

    Having Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary, for example, was a huge mistake and I don't think that current home secretary is any better.

    That said there are also many complete and utter loser male politicians.

  5. Munguin: Harriet Harman is a particularly stupid example of a politician. She's also a hypocrite.

    The woman opens her mouth and comes out with the first thing that pops into her vacant wee head. The court of public opinion as a punishment for thieving MPs was a particularly good example of the drivel that comes out of her mouth. The consequences of that could easily have been foreseen by a far less qualified person than a QC.

    As you say, her record on Women was crap or a Women’s Minister... and in any case what the hell is that about. If women are equal why do they get a minister, even such a poor one as the Harman woman? Along with ministers for Scotland, Wales and NI, that really irritates. Either we are equal with English Men, or we want out!

    In any case, she will give Cameron a very easy ride over the next 3 months as she acts as leader. She’s not a star at the despatch box.

  6. Brownlie.... I don't see your problem. They can do it when they get home from work, obviously, duh!

  7. As an employer I would not appreciate my HR department employing an individual whose CV was inferior to other applicants merely, or solely, on the basis of being male, female or whatever.

  8. No seriously neither would I Brownlie, but in some places I'm sure it happens.

    I'm pretty sure that Theresa May isn't there on merit, and if Cheryl Gillan is the best they could find for SoS for Wales when she isn't even a Welsh MP and doesn't live in the country then I'll be damned.

    Tokens both.