Opinion: Why the Lib Dems need all-women shortlists

In his Lib Dem Voice piece “Too male and too pale” – Why shortlists and the Leadership Programme are not the answer, Paul Head states that he is totally opposed to all-women shortlists (AWS) because they ‘ignore the real problem’ that this reflects in the party as a whole; and that we need to engage more with women and BAME people on a grassroots level and change from below.

This is a sensible argument, and is something that we should strive for. However, I believe that there is a place for AWS in the Liberal Democrats, despite the fact that the specifics would likely be hard to pin down.

Paul Head states that shortlists are a ‘quick fix’. On one level, this is true, with the outcome of gaining more female MPs. The long-term effect, though, is that those women would become role models; other women will see them and think ‘I could to do that too’, further increasing the number of female MPs. For this reason, AWS could be temporary and still produce results.

If there is any perception, conscious or not, that being an MP is a male or masculine job, increasing the number of women MPs in this way will help to correct this. Furthermore, these women would evidence the fact that we are a female-friendly party, a point which is harder to make if we are not seen to trust women to represent us.

A more contentious issue is whether women can be properly represented by men. Work by Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs and Joni Lovenduski finds that the attitudes of the public mirror those of MPs; that is, the average woman on the street has views broadly congruent with a female MP. This means that if women are disproportionately under-represented in the Commons, female concerns might not be properly highlighted, and therefore, a greater number of women MPs is desirable as soon as possible. The Fawcett Society suggests that this could take 70 years to happen organically, and this just isn’t good enough.

Even if you don’t accept the representation argument, it is difficult to argue against the fact that if there were truly no barriers to becoming an MP, then it could be expected that MPs would be a random selection of people, coming from all walks of life, with different characteristics. As scholar Jane Mansbridge argues, the fact that this is not the case indicates that something must be holding some groups back.

Equality is a Liberal Democrat passion, and unless we believe that it is right for certain groups to be denied access to what is currently a rather exclusive club, this is something that we must make every effort to change.

* Nat Jester is a Lib Dem member in Bristol South.

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48 Comments

  • Great article Nat! I’d definitely like to see more female and BME representation in Parliament!
    I do agree, whilst not a long-term solution, shortlists are a great start. An increase in the number of women would be a great start in helping to change the culture of the party and making it more amenable to under-represented groups!

  • And of course the first response is from a man compaining that the whining, bitter, shrewish women are conspiring against him. Guys: sometimes this is not about you.

  • Nat (the author) 14th Oct '11 - 4:03pm

    @Andrew – the world is already full of discrimination, with the gender pay gap being one of a huge number of examples. We’re not asking for #more# than men, all we’re asking for is the chance to have the same opportunities, many which are currently denied to us.

  • Nat (the author) 14th Oct '11 - 4:19pm

    @Mark – I do have those figures, having written a dissertation on female Lib Dems in parliament! My opinion still stands. Somewhere down the line, something is going wrong: if our selection procedures and support were that good, why is it that so few women made it to parliament? I’m not saying that I have all the answers, but I think it is time to try something new. If it doesn’t work, then I will concede defeat, but it has worked very well for Labour which indicates that it might work for us too.

  • Nat – how would you feel about splitting the list of seats in half and having half all male short lists and half all female shortlists?

  • There are already far too many Y chromosomes on this thread. When are men going to stop offering their patronizing ‘explanations’ for inequality, and just listen to what women have to say? It seems that the second thing men have trouble keeping closed is their mouths.

  • David, I find your comments quite offensive. I also happen to be a man and I also happen to be a committed feminist. I can only assume though that you think you are being witty.

    Nat, unfortunately Mark’s point is fatal to your argument – 50:50 target seat representation of the two genders we are talking about here demonstrates the problem is not with gender in our selection procedures. There may however be an issue in your second point around support. I would also add two further points: that, given the smaller sample size than Labour and the lack of such things as ‘safe seats’ chance and bad luck in campaigns will make us vulnerable – I do not think the selection rules made those who were women who were selected for our target seats not win. Second, it may have worked for Labour, but we do not believe as a part, in positive discrimination, surely.

    What we need is more positive action, more encouragement, and more women to put themselves forward. You seem to be damning the leadership programme before it has started. I do however support selection short-list quotas, the consideration of gender and other identified aspects of discrimination, the leadership programme which trains some people who have already been target seat candidates to help them go forward and win in future.

  • Nat (the author) 14th Oct '11 - 6:01pm

    @ Anonymous – “What we need is more positive action, more encouragement, and more women to put themselves forward”. We have singularly failed at this in the past, what makes you think it would be any different now?

    As I said in the article, AWS also demonstrates a commitment to women; a statement that parliament is for women too. This would likely facilitate a culture change, where we move to a position of accepting and supporting women who want to be candidates, something which Ruth Bright had awful problems with. It isn’t just about the numbers, it is also about changing the way we – and the public – think.

    In relation to discrimination, I refer you to a comment I made earlier, which I fear I will have to re-state several times! “The world is already full of discrimination, with the gender pay gap being one of a huge number of examples. We’re not asking for #more# than men, all we’re asking for is the chance to have the same opportunities, many which are currently denied to us.”

  • Andrew Tennant 14th Oct '11 - 6:10pm

    As a Lib Dem I support equality of opportunity, but not contrived equality of outcome. As Mark says above, we have numerous female candidates in winnable seats – the opportunity is available. The problem is not with candidate selection – it’s with getting the candidates elected.

  • Nat,

    Thank you so much for starting the debate on this. So, so much to add that I will have to go away and work it out to make a coherent posting.

    In fact I started on it but it got so much I’m going to submit it as an article I think, but in essence I’m beginning to believe that in fact it is sometimes women that are as guilty if not more so of holding women back from achieving.

    TBC…

  • I’m just pointing out that *every single respondent* to this thread is male, and the entire burden of their response is that it will be terrible, just terrible, if the smallest gesture is made toward institutional equality of genders. Because, you know, men have been having it so terribly rough these days.

    Where are the women? How is it that there are no responses from the people who are actually concerned? Could it just be that women might not feel comfortable responding in such a testosterone-soaked, clubby atmosphere? Oh, no, not in such a “liberal, tolerant” forum. I expect that none of the respondents — including self-styled feminists — has any idea of the real difficulties women face in ascending the ladder in a male-dominated environment.

    Call that intolerant, if you will. It certainly is. It’s intolerant of institutionalized biases, of prejudice, of inequality of opportunity and inequality of outcome. Those things have been tolerated quite long enough.

  • I find it difficult to accept that action should be taken on the theory that men can not properly represent women. Presumably it works the other way. Can ethnic minorities be properly represented by white MPs, and vice versa?

    Obviously a problem with political representation through single member constituencies is that the majority preference, or prejudice, is favoured to the exclusion of minority representation. Prejudice and bigotry should be discouraged rather than embraced.

  • paul barker 14th Oct '11 - 9:43pm

    While AWS seems to raise a lot of hackles, female as well as male, the fact is that All Male Shortlists are already commonplace in the Party. So common we even have a special rule forbidding them, a rule which is ignored.
    As an armchair Member Ive only ever been to 2 Hustings, for my local PPC & for The London Mayoral contest. Both Hustings had 4 Men standing. Im going to another Hustings next week, 2 Men.
    Thats 3 contests, 10 Candidates & no Women.

    When are we going to stop bleating & actually change things ?

  • Elizabeth Parr 14th Oct '11 - 9:50pm

    I have always been very torn about all women shortlists. Speaking as a young woman who has recently been through an election, I would be lying if I said I did not come across some prejudice. However, I ran against both male and female candidates and I won by a large majority.

    Part of me feels that by having all women shortlists it sends the message that those women could not win against a man. However, I appreciate that we are in desperate need of more women, and that this has worked for other parties.

  • Paul Barker is absolutely right: There must be a minimum female candidate quota in place, but AWS is not the way to go for the reasons we have discussed – not least, candidate selection is not the problem.

    David, I think your use of the phrase ‘self-styled’ is not really in keeping with the sort of constructive debate LDV is usually know for, it is a little bit offensive.

  • Patrick Smith 15th Oct '11 - 4:37am

    I support the view that `grass-roots’ activism local meetings and campaigns should foster and reflect opportunities and enthusiasm to welcome more women L/D members and fellow travellers into their ranks to get involved throughout the year and not just as a selection question in Elections.

    Women are half of the population in the UK but do not see there numbers represented in Parliament or in most Town Halls .However, AWS is not the answer as it would ill serve the real natural potential of women at all levels from an early age into Liberal politics and debate.I believe that Liberal women want to be seen as being equal to men in terms of all talent available in the pool.

    I support the views expressed that there are good Liberal women role models at the coal-face in Parliament like Shirley Williams, Lynn Featherstone, Sarah Ludford,Jo Swinson,Dorothy Thornhill,Caroline Pigeon,Kirsty Williams et al and their work serves as a beacon to younger women entering into the arena with their `Can do attitude’.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '11 - 7:50am

    Presumably we would have to change part of the preamble to our Constitution:
    “we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.”

  • I’m not a fan of AWS but I am increasingly concerned that without some more proactive measure we will end up in the same shoddy position after the next GE when it comes to the representation of over 50% of the population.

    Andrew’s points are well-made and clearly heartfelt. The argument about women’s representation is not a zero-sum position. The difficulty I have with saying we need to do more to make parliament more diverse across the board (which is raised every time the question of women’s representation is put forward) is that if one considers mens voices against women’s voices in parliament, men are clearly represented. Women aren’t.

    Mark’s points about the constituencies in which women would have won had things gone slightly differently at the last GE are also telling. If things had gone our way we would have had around 20 women MPs, he says. Fine, but that is out of (say) 77. So just over 25%. That is still not good enough.

    How about considering a policy for the next GE that all retiring MPs have to be replaced by a woman candidate? How about for any future by-elections in this parliament that the candidate must be a woman – we might not win the by-election in question but it would do much to counter our image. More radically still, how about working with Labour and the Conservatives to suggest that half of all seats only select a woman (from whichever of the three main parties), and half select a man.

    I’m not sure some of the posters here appreciate how much of a problem this is. There are many women who have worked for years and are used to seeing results for their work. We are just not seeing the same sorts of results from politics. The disenchantment amongst women appears to be the case across the parties, looking at the YouGov poll from earlier this week. People need to realise that the current situation is unjust, democratically bankrupt and unsustainable.

    The problem with saying positive action (and as I say I am not a fan) should not be taken is that it leaves women fighting for years, probably decades, to achieve equality. That is not good enough. If we want women to take politics and our party seriously, we have got to do more, and quickly.

  • Whilst it would be good to see a more diverse Parliament, I don’t believe that a quota mentality helps: tokenism destroys credibility. Candidate support and mentoring are vital – and not just for under-represented groups – but I believe the problem starts even before selection. At autumn conference I attended a “do you want to be an MEP” session. The room was full, but I believe there were only 3 other women there. Maybe the problem is that not enough women WANT to stand to achieve the magical 50%? And let’s not go down the route of saying that the women MPs represent women. They don’t: they represent their constituents. My dislike of my MP is based on his policies and attitudes, and has nothing to do with his chromosomes.

  • Another thing… to my mind the root of the imbalance is that so many hopefuls are career politicians e.g. Oxbridge PPE, internship, researching, ministerial aide. Many of them happen to be “male and pale”. That’s not right or wrong, it’s just how things are, and it has produced some very fine politicians who have done a good job of representing the voters even if they are not “representative”. If you want to change it, consider introducing an “all real-world jobs shortlist”. That will result in a much more diverse outcome.

  • Dave Leonard 15th Oct '11 - 10:00am

    2 things spring to mind after reading the article and the comments :
    1) AWS is not a guarantee of fixing the stated symptom (not problem), which is namely – we don’t have an equal proportion of MPs or other elected representatives
    2) The problem is structural as Lee has pointed out. I’m sure we would all like to live in a true meritocracy, so, what is stopping that happening?

    Going back to the original post, the point was made that we are in a vicious circle. Few women MPs means fewer role models, therefore less likelihood of women putting themselves forward into what is a male dominated environment.
    The only true way I can see of changing this is not by some quick-fix, but by a long concerted effort from the whole party to promote the role models we have, encourage the grass roots to come forward and take part. As a party chair, I see the ratio of male – female activists to be significantly skewed (even though membership ratios are more even), which just reinforces the problem.
    If the party as a whole were to enable female MPs, or indeed MPs of any under-represented group to spend more time presenting themselves as role models by supporting them to reduce their parliamentary and constituency workload for example, then that would enable a more constant, reinforced message to go out.
    Additionally, the creation of Officer positions in each party along with asociated training – to promote and encourage women and other under-represented groups – might also help.

    As an obviously “too male and too pale” member of the party I could use some help with this, rather than just being dismissed as part of the problem.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Oct '11 - 10:23am

    @Jo Shaw – can you explain how we can hsay that ” all retiring MPs have to be replaced by a woman candidate? How about for any future by-elections in this parliament that the candidate must be a woman” without breaching the party’s constitution which is clearly against discrimination?

  • Nat (the author) 15th Oct '11 - 10:52am

    The gender pay gap is 10.2% http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/08/international-womens-day-pay-gap

    On the boards of banks in the FTSE 100, only 9% are female http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmtreasy/482/48205.htm

    Women will be disproportionately affected by budget cuts http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/07/budget-cuts-women-revenue

    THIS is discrimination, yet we accept these things as being ‘just the way it is’. Why is it that so many of you – and indeed the wider public – feel that this is alright? It really is not.

    Bleeting about meritocracy and ‘doing more’ just is not good enough. We’ve been trying to ‘do more’ for years (the CGB for instance is hardly overwhelmed with funds), but the results just haven’t appeared. We need radical change, and we need it now.

  • Dave Leonard 15th Oct '11 - 11:13am

    Nat – are you saying that AWS wil fix all the problems you’ve highlighted, or that the lack of women in politics is the root cause of all the other issues?

    In terms of the discussion on your original post, it seems to me that women in general are “turned off” from politics and therefore are not taking part, from the ground up.

    If it is true that women are making it onto the PPC list at least, if not more successfully than men, and if again, women are being selected as candidates along similar lines, then the 2 key issues we face are:
    1) Not enough women getting involved in politics
    2) Female Lib Dem candidates not being elected by the public

    I suggest you look for radical change, but not as sticking plasters to the symptoms we see. How about proposing a radical overhaul of our political system and methods of government so they are more open and attractive to women? Surely that would encourage more women to get involved? Having that on the manifesto might encourage more women to be active in the party and more women in general to vote for the party.

    If you think the CGB would be more effective if it had more funds, then that is surely a good starting point. Mind you – having never heard of CGB until now, and reading the web pages with some dismay, it seems to be just another centrally controlled initiative that is doomed to failure.
    “If you are a woman thinking about your next steps in politics, get in touch with us and we will talk you through the processes”
    How could that ever succeed if there are hardly any women even thinking about being involved in politics, let alone some next steps.

  • david thorpe 15th Oct '11 - 11:18am

    I do think the point about the proportion of women in target seats is relevant, I dont know why so many of them were not elected, particlualrly as some were runnin g against other women whp were the sitting Mp.
    I think positive action is needed tpo encourage more female, and BME candidates, but Im not sure if the shortlists will address the other problem, which is that when we select women in jkey seats, they do not win.
    Im famialir with the circumstances and campaigns of two women in target seats during GE2010, both of whome were nott elected, and I woudl say the reasons for their faiulure were different in each individual case.
    I have no doubt we have enough quality female candidates to ensure that any we run in winnable seats woiuld be good Mps, but the point remains there has not been a lack of opportunity, I wonder, Nat do you feel there has been a lack of engagenment with women voters and activists to get them to stand or t support us?

  • Nat, I see no logical connection between the impact of cuts on women and there being too few female MPs. Yes, there is still a lot of unacceptable discrimination in politics, but some of the answer lies within ourselves and we cannot blame others for our own apathy. Put it this way, if 100 men and 20 women applied for 50 jobs, I’d think there was something rather odd, discriminatory and illiberal going on if 30 men and all 20 women were appointed. The thing to tackle is why women don’t even put themselves forward, because when we do stand we seem to do disproportionately well. Is that because on average the calibre of women is higher? It might be. It could be they are more driven… or have better support networks… or are tough enough to overcome obstacles that would not need to be overcome by a man in the same position. However as a voter, my primary interest is in having an MP who represents my views and principles; who has the strength of character to do the job well; who will have integrity and commitment and act in the public interest. All other things being equal, I might vote on the basis of sisterhood, but I’m sufficiently bloody-minded and (I think) feminist that I would refuse on principle to vote for a woman candidate produced from an all-woman shortlist. It’s just the wrong way of achieving an otherwise laudable outcome.

  • Nat (the author) 15th Oct '11 - 12:42pm

    @ Dave L – Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. MPs kick and scream when people suggest changing the system, and who can blame them? It works perfectly well for their clique. I believe that having more women in parliament (from all parties) would force it to consider things from a different point of view, and look at issues they might not previously have considered. For instance, it took a woman MP, Christine McCafferty, to raise the issue of high VAT on sanitary products because men had done nothing about it, probably because they didn’t realise that this was a problem.

    The CGB is described by the party as the ‘best hope’ for getting more women involved. I agree that there are problems with the organisation, but this was all that the party was willing to concede.

    @ David T Actually I do think there has been a lack of opportunity. Go back a few days and read Ruth Bright’s piece on being a candidate; if you were a woman, having heard that story, are you honestly telling me that you’d think you had the same opportunity to stand? We desperately need a culture change, and I think AWS will go some way to making people realise that women belong in politics.

    @Ann K – did you consider that perhaps the 20 women might be better candidates for the mystery job? Do we think it is natural that men should be over-represented in jobs?

    PS, I’d like to see suggestions on how to fix the problem of under-representation from everyone who has argued against this article. I’m genuinely curious as to what you all think!

  • No, Nat, it’s not ideal that men should be over-represented in certain jobs but sometimes one can identify what the blockers are and deal with them. Sometimes the problems are within ourselves – we stop ourselves from trying to succeed because that avoids the risk of failure. It’s so easy to say “well they wouldn’t have given me the job anyway”.

    On the other hand, it can never be desirable or liberal that anyone is selected over a higher-calibre candidate so as to satisfy a tick-box fulfilment of equality, even if the outcome is that things “look better” and hence encourage others to put themselves forward. That is not equality at all – it is tokenism. Women have quite enough to contend with without people muttering behind their backs that “Well, you know she only got the job because…”

    Please, if you can tell me why only 10% of attendees at an information session for would-be MEPs were women, I’d love to hear it. Sometimes we have to stop assuming that we will be treated a certain way and just get on with it, otherwise our fears become self-fulfilling prophecy not through men’s fault but through our own lack of will.

  • Dave Leonard 15th Oct '11 - 1:55pm

    @ Nat – “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. MPs kick and scream when people suggest changing the system, and who can blame them?”

    Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the party members could, and do, form policy. If it were our policy (which I am sure there would be a lot of support for) to change certain elements of our political system and government so they were more open and more attractive to women, then I think that would be a very good start.

    Perhaps I was a bit rude about the CGB earlier. Being more diplomatic, the organisation seems to be passive rather than active – waiting for women to find it rather than going to find them. If the emphasis were the other way round and the CGB had representation in every consituency with a specific officer appointed, then we could do a number of things.
    1) actively find good candidate material and persuade them to join the party and get involved
    2) actively grow the party membership and activists by focussing on aspects of politics and government that appeal to women (conversely you would get a lot of feedback about the negative aspects of politics and government which would feed into the policy making)

    I’d love to do something like that in our party, but we’re just struggling for survival and can’t afford to turn down any offers of support or candidates!
    Membership : 33 male, 24 female
    Councillors : 7 male, 1 female
    Activists : 12 male, 5 female
    Candidates for 2012 : 1 male, 3 female + 2 spaces

    We’re making progress, but more by luck than judgement and could use some help – I’m sure there are plenty of other local parties in similar situations ….

  • I’d be interested to hear others’ views on the idea of an “all real-world jobs shortlist” i.e. excluding the PPE graduates and career lobbyists in favour of a few engineers, bookkeepers, quality inspectors, sales managers and dental nurses.

    But the party would have to accept that those people need more support, including financial support. People not already immersed in the world of politics will face a major challenge in that they have to carry on working and earning to support themselves/their familes/their mortgage during a campaign.

    I think this is a major reason why certain groups appear to be over-/under-represented. It may simply be that certain sets of working and financial circumstances lead to specific groups being generally better placed to consider standing. That’s not sexism (sorry Nat, it isn’t!) it’s just money, and if you really intend to tackle it you need to throw money at it once suitable people have been identified. Yes, if you have to, pay their mortgage for a few months and accept that you may not win the seat at the end of it.

  • paul barker 15th Oct '11 - 3:14pm

    The problem is that the Time for Experiments, discussion & “Long-Term Solutions” has all run out. If we are serious about changing The Party by 2015 then we have to take decisions now. AWS could make The Change in time & I dont see anyone putting forward alternatives that could.
    One thing that has to be dismissed is spending more Money we havent got or piling more work onto our tiny band of Activists.
    Lets stop talking & do something practical.

  • Paul: Talk of spending money we haven’t got is pure defeatism. If we want to win power (how else to implement our principles and policies?) then we have to knock this small-town, saving-bits-of-string mentality into touch.

    If the best candidate for a seat is a working person who cannot campaign properly whilst working, and has bills to pay, then maybe we need to find the money to help that candidate through the process i.e. replace their income for the key weeks in the run-up to an election.

    Is politics to be the preserve of those already employed in politics, or the rich? Are you content to see so many constituencies represented by people who have never worked in a customer-facing job, never worked a night shift, never been made redundant?

    If we truly want to achieve diversity withour compromising the principle of the best person getting the gig, then we need to make it possible for a wider range of people to stand. If that means money, raise the money.

  • David, I am not male and i responded before your comment! There are too many comments for me to catch up on in 5 mins but I hope to be back online later…

  • Ann, v quickly on your ‘all real jobs’ shortlist, I am a lobbyist and it is a real job, with tough hours and real demands on your life. It can be easy to define what we want to call a ‘real job’ but to do so will quickly risk – as I am sure you are aware – all sorts of dangers about who decides what a ‘real job’ is… I get branded as a career-politician by note of my age and job all the time, and that hurts, because the implication behind all of those types of comments is that a) if you are young you are just after a career and don’t really care about people and b) if you deem my job to ‘not be real’ my views are suddenly rendered invalid. It is such a risky line to take. [Of course I usually just point out that I have worked in a call-centre, served in a restaurant, quality controlled, commuted, worked in an dull office job etc… as well.]

  • Henry, I’m sorry if I offended you. I don’t doubt that your job is a tough one and of course all of those roles I mentioned are real jobs. But I think I was ultra careful to insert the word “world” in there.

    My point was (and apologies to anyone else who took umbrage at my shorthand way of describing it) that people who make their entire career in politics tend to be a rather narrow demographic. The male and pale that everyone is talking about.

    You may have done a bit of call centre work or whatever first, but that gives you a very different perspective and life experience from someone who does it for 10 years and then goes into politics.

    Currently it seems that having the “meat” of your CV in the political world is a major advantage. It would be rather healthy, and tend to produce the desired outcome of diversity, if the opposite were true.

  • I’m relieved to see that the weight of opinion of both female and male contributors has been against AWS. It’s a tool of deeply illiberal Harmanism that has no place in a fair and open selection process.

    I do appreciate your arguments, Nat, but I think the real question is why don’t more women WANT to stand? Because that’s the sticking point. It’s not that the big horrible sexist process conspires to stop them getting selected – it’s that they don’t come forward in sufficent numbers right at the start.

    If they don’t want to stand because they fear prejudice and think the odds are stacked against them, then that’s the problem to be tackled and I think the CGB will go a long way to solving it by providing the support.

    If on the other hand they don’t stand because it doesn’t appeal, they don’t want the lifestyle and they don’t much fancy the job, then AWS looks pretty unfair on the men, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t want to be the quota-filler in such circumstances.

  • Hi Ann, I am glad you also reject AWS, and I wholeheartedly agree with your final comment. But I do not agree with your penultimate comment: the notion of ‘real world’ and ‘not real world’ is simply not a palatable one – especially given that whatever one’s job, we all still end up having to pay for childcare, go to school, use the health service, experience crime, pay rent, commute, shop, occassionally go on to benefits etc…

  • david thorpe 17th Oct '11 - 1:56pm

    Nat,
    I think that in general there are obstacles to women engaging in politics, and some newspaper coverage which judges or comments on womens appearance in a way it would do on a mans appearance may well serve as a reason why women dont want to be engaged, and there is obviously a problem across our party and other parties regarding represenattion of women.
    Whether more women candidates would solve the problem Im not sure.

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