At the Speaker’s Conference yesterday, Nick Clegg delivered a frank assessment of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party, calling it “woefully unrepresentative of modern Britain”. It’s not hard to see why. No ethnic minority MPs, and just nine female MPs among our 63 representatives. Woeful is the word.
The real question is: what to do about it? Nick has previously indicated – and repeated the point in his submission yesterday – that he would consider recommending all-women shortlists be adopted by the party after the next election if he’s unable to point to real progress in improving the Parliamentary party’s representativeness. David Cameron has caused apoplexy among some Tories with his suggestion that the positive discrimination of all-women shortlists might be the answer for his party, which is also ‘hideously male’.
So are all-women short-lists – or quotas for the number of women selected for seats – the way to address the issue? The party has, of course, been here before: in 2001, conference delegates rejected a controversial proposal for all-women shortlists, instead setting a target (not a quota) that 40% of candidates in winnable and held seats should be female.
Over to you, LDV’s readers, to decide how best the party can tackle the under-representation of women – if, indeed, you feel it is an issue which should be tackled. The question is simple: How should the Lib Dems increase their number of female MPs?
And your options are:
* All women shortlists and/or quotas in winnable and held seats
* All women shortlists and/or quotas in ALL seats
* No short-lists and/or quotas, but invest in getting more, better-trained and supported candidates
* No short-lists and/or: focus instead on electoral reform – until we have that, all our efforts will be limited.
* No short-lists and/or quotas for women – all candidates should stand or fall on their own merits regardless of gender
(My thanks to James Graham for suggesting the above options.)
Surely it’s time for a heated debate …