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.