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 on 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.