All Women Short Lists AGAIN

I have blogged about this issue before in relation to the SNP and now find myself blogging about it again as the Scottish Liberal Democrats begin the build up to their spring conference in Aberdeen and the issue being on the table.

Willie Rennie, and many within the party, feel that women are under represented in the party and were unhappy when the MEMBERS did not place Alison McInnes at the top of the list for the North East instead going for Mike Rumbles. Alison being the only female Liberal MSP in Holyrood, and by all accounts a good and effective MSP overall, could leave the Scottish Liberal Democrats with no female MSPs if the party is successful at all in the North East which is doubtful anyway given the momentum the SNP currently have in Scotland.

To be honest I can’t really comment on how good Alison is but the simple fact remains it has to be up to the members to decide.

So to revisit my previous post:

First of all, I still feel that all women short lists restrict the freedom of local party members to select who they feel is the best candidate at the time of the election irrespective of gender. The best candidate should win the nomination based on merit alone. Of course there should always be equality of opportunity, where a person’s gender, sexual orientation, background, colour, religion and age do not count as factors in restricting any person putting themselves forward as a candidate for selection and therefore election.

I also feel that political parties should be working harder to get more women involved in political parties and to support women into leadership positions within these parties should they wish, but through their work and skills, not their gender. I feel there is a risk that all women short lists not only demean women, but demean the position that they are standing for due to the suspicion that maybe they were not the best candidate for the nomination in the first place.

We should also make political parties, the working environment out with politics, local councils and parliament more female friendly around the times they sit, child care options etc. I am also not denying that there is need for a greater balance of women and minorities within politics and other fields, not just in the parties, councils and parliament, but across all decision-making structures from business to education etc.

However, you don’t end discrimination or the under representation of women, or minorities for that matter, in political parties by discriminating against men.

To deny myself or men in general, should they wish, the opportunity to put themselves forward for selection / nomination as a potential candidate based on the fact they are male is just plain wrong, as I said above, you do not end discrimination against women or other minorities in politics by discriminating against men and any argument of the greater good is just not good enough in my opinion.

There is also evidence to suggest that many agree with me, a YouGov Poll in August 2014 found that 56% of the public oppose the principle of all women short lists. The poll also found that 51% of women also opposed them.

No doubt many might want to lynch me for my views on this issue, some will consider me an old sexist no doubt, but it is how it is. Should the Scottish Liberal Democrats decide to follow the Labour Party and the SNP down this road I will be seriously considering my membership of the party. I cannot be a member of a party that discriminates against anyone, no matter how much they might argue that it is positive, it is needed, or if the majority in the party vote for such a measure in a democratic vote. I also appreciate you win some and you lose some in political parties, and that many believe you have to be unfair to be fair on occasion.

Discrimination is still discrimination.

So therefore I cannot accept the view of the need for all women short lists, there needs to be another way. I can accept something like a 50/50 quota for candidates put forward to the members to decide whom they want or even just put forward everyone who passes selection for a given area, for me that would be a way to find some common ground, but to discriminate is wrong. It’s how I feel.

9 Responses to All Women Short Lists AGAIN

  1. antmcg says:

    I am in full agreement with you on this one. I have many a discussion about this subject, and most people seem to feel the same way, but it seems that the “powers-that-be”, no matter the party, all seem to think this is the latest fad to come along and be part of. Yes I am male, but also think that everyone regardless of gender, should attain positions in all walks of life purely on merit, not just because they are seen as the “Fairer Sex”.
    Are these people saying that women ordinarily could not make it to the top with these biased short-lists?
    Looking back, you had Thatcher, Currie, Bottomley, to name but 3 women who all made it to Minister level or higher in the 80’s, all without these short-lists.

    One day, in a progressive world I hope that these will be seen as exactly what they are, outdated, biased, and just plain wrong.

  2. antmcg says:

    the line “Are these people saying that women ordinarily could not make it to the top with these biased short-lists?” should have read “Are these people saying that women ordinarily could not make it to the top without these biased short-lists?”

    • Anonymous says:


      I totally agree, when I mentioned this to my wife previously she thought it was all bullshit and actually had the view that some of the worst and most brutal politicians were women. I tended to agree but I suppose they are influenced by the culture they are in if it’s high buisiness or politics. However I just can’t stand it and as I noted it is discrimination and you don’t end it by adding more to it. At the end of the day it has to be up to the members.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. tris says:

    I have to say that it is one of the few things that Anne Widdecomb adn I agreed about (the other being fox hunting).

    I think it is so incredibly condescending to women to have all women short lists.

    In what way are women held back from this kind of job? Why do they need a help up?

    If people are good enough to do the job, they get there. If they are not they shouldn’t get there.

    To discriminate positively for one is to discriminate negatively for others.

    Do we want all gay; all disabled; all ethnic minority; all European; all anything lists too?

    No, we’d actually like all good people lists.

    • Anonymous says:


      I agree, it’s bad enough that , although parties deny it, selection is to a degree weighed towards those with contacts and esp those coming in with their own election fighting fund or backing. They are then placed in target seats. I have always said that I will never vote for a candidate in my area who is not local, simple as that, so the Lib Dems could place anyone they like if they are not local they won’t get my vote.

      All women short lists are just wrong and I won’t be a part of them in any party. If the Scottish Lib Dems bring it in I will leave the party, just put everyone forward to the members who pass selection but even if they do that if I suspect that they are only selecting women in that process I will not be a part of it. Parties already control too much, I always think that people like Craig Murray should be in politics and I think the SNP never selecting him is wrong. I understand they fear what he would say etc but that is not good enough. He is professional enough to stick to what he agrees to abide by as far as rules go and comes across as an honest and honourable man. In so many ways all the parties stink and it’s no wonder our system is so broken.

      I would seriously consider voting for independents in my area if they actually stood but the system makes it so hard for independents to stand in local and national elections.

      Thanks for commenting.


  4. There is another way to approach this – which is to allow job-share candidates. Allow people to voluntarily put forward a two person team for each elected post. After all, job-sharing is common in other fields of professional life. The salary of an MP or MSP is sufficient for two people job-sharing. They would share the same office/backroom staff to provide continuity of service to constituents.

    A presumption, or at least encouragement, that job-share pairs should be one woman and one man would achieve gender parity immediately in those seats without the need for any discrimination.

    The English Greens and at least some within the Liberal Democrats have proposed this at various times.

    • Anonymous says:


      That is a very good idea and one that I had certainly never thought about. That should be something that could be made to work.

      Thanks for commenting.


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