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My generation of women will have the confidence to run the country

27 June 2014

Uh oh. The ‘all-women shortlist’ is again being touted as a good idea for the Conservatives, this time by Nicky Morgan, the new women’s minister. When asked about using shortlists to increase the number of female MPs, she told a Mumsnet chat: ‘I do think the big issue is we just aren’t getting enough women coming forward (which is an issue for all Parties). I think we need to see where we end up in 2015 and if we are still struggling to get more women MPs then no option is off the table.’ In response, a senior Conservative has said that quotas are ‘categorically not an option’.

Why can’t people like Morgan see that an all-women shortlist (or any form of social engineering) is a bad idea? It is women who end up looking weak and incapable each time it is discussed. The fact that the position of Minister for Women exists, without a corresponding Minister for Men, already stinks of sickly sweet patronisation. Calling for a pro-female bias only makes matters worse.

There should be more women in parliament, but like Morgan says, not enough female candidates are coming forward. Time, not positive discrimination, will change this. At present, 16% of Conservative MPs are women, compared to 33% of Labour MPs. This looks bad, until you consider that Labour brought in all-women shortlists in 1997.

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But take a look at the percentages of female Tory MPs over the past century. In 1918, 0% of MPs were women; 16% in 2014 is progress. For the 2015 election, 30% of Tory candidates are female. Progress may not be as fast as we’d like, but it is happening, without the need for social engineering.

Sexual inequality has all but reversed in Britain in recent years, and girls routinely outperform boys at school and university. Why can’t we wait for the effects of this to reach Westminster? Much better to play the long game, and support a meritocracy rather than a mediocracy. I have absolutely no doubt that my generation of women will have the confidence to run the country – so let’s not rush things.


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  • global city

    Danny Alexander’s sister?

  • blingmun

    Nah this will never happen. Sexual selection over hundreds of thousands of years has rewarded males who attain power with proportionally more offspring than powerful females (think Genghis Khan having hundreds of sons and daughters – no queen in history came even close). Consequently, characteristics such as risk taking, audacity, physical strength, political cunning etc. became more widely distributed among men than women.

    We should all accept this fact and stop getting upset about inequality. I didn’t choose to be male. But then again I didn’t choose to have less sporting ability than Lionel Messi, less good looks than David Beckham, less strategic brilliance than Magnus Carlsen and the list – unfortunately! – goes on.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Social engineering aside, the entire concept is anti-democratic on its face.

  • Grumpy

    Learn to park a car and put up your own goddamn shelf–then you will be fit for—well, maybe not power, but some responsibility.

  • realfish

    Quite right Lara, the Tories should stick to their guns. All women shortlists might provide the quantity but not the quality. Just take a look at Labour’s front bench.

  • Jonathan Burns

    If you are so pathetic you can only get picked as a MP candidate by being in an all woman shortlist with women even less qualified than yourself, you shouldn’t be in politics. As bad as women in the police, fire services and military qualifying with lowered standards.
    Quality is better than quantity.

  • Last Man Standing

    The last thing we need is women running the country. It’s bad enough, and it is bad, having a bunch of feminised men doing it. There are lots of things women can do, and do well, but allowing them to run a country is not one of them, not if we want it to be any sort of country fit for men. A country run by left wing women – and those in the Tory Party are all left wing, including my own MP, the incompetent Helen Grant who was a Labour Party member before being selected for a safe Tory seat – would be even worse than one run by lady-boys such as Red Ed. We would look back with fondness on the Nanny State if it were really run by women.

    • Sarah Stuart

      “There are lots of things women can do, and do well, but allowing them to run a country is not one of them, not if we want it to be any sort of country fit for men.”

      I’m sorry, but there is no reason why women can’t run the country, and do it well. That’s a very old-fashioned, patronising attitude.

      If we are to say that men can competently run a country for women, then why not the other way?

      Blinkered **left wing** women (or men) on the other hand, that’s a different matter!

  • John Matthews

    This seems to be a compromise between how many votes you lose due to a lack of representation of women vs having the best person for the job. (Women are of course as capable as men but positive discrimination is just that your not guaranteeing the best person)
    That graph at the end looks very pretty and all and shows progress but when Labour stick there’s next to it the tories look slow and out of date

    • Bik Byro

      The tories, with the only party to have had a female prime minister, yes, they really look slow and out of date

    • Dogzzz

      I don’t see how having a greater number of incompetent, weak, and patronised women, makes the labour party look in any way superior. Rejecting all candidates, regardless of ability, purely due to them having a penis, is appallingly sexist and puts me off ever voting for such a party of sexist bigots.

  • Paul Weston

    Hmmm, women and running the country you say……

    If you are serious, then what will women do about the rise of demographic and fundamentalist Islam, which can only lead to civil unrest and probable war within 1-2 generations – their generations, not ours. Muslims women have large families starting at 18 years of age or younger. Western women have the occasional sprog in their late twenties to early thirties – if they have them at all.

    It is ridiculous to waffle on about women in power by a certain date, when the real power demographic in the future has no respect for women at all. To put it mildly.

    Or perhaps women, having got us into this precarious situation (by putting careers before children) might also be the ones who will confront Islam. After all, women have the most to lose here.

    But I don’t think they will. It is no coincidence that burgeoning Islam, which controls its women is on the road to power, whilst the shrinking West which lost control of its women in the 1960s is on the way out.

    Nature is nature and demographics are destiny. Harsh, yes, but so is anything to do with survival, which is something we have forgotten amongst the most spoiled, decadent and denatured generation to have ever existed on earth.

    Will this annoy women? Yes. Will they talk realistically about the future of Western civilisation? No. Will they witter on about glass ceilings? Yes.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Will they talk realistically about the future of Western civilisation?”

      If you’ve ever had the misfortune to stumble upon the television programme “Loose Women” you’ll be horrified to know what they talk about and how.

    • John Dalton

      One of the best comments I’ve read on these boards – thank you.

      It says it all when the comments are so insightful while the actual articles themselves on this site are often banal, metropolitan group-think that could have been penned by a Guardian reading A-level politics student! (I don’t include the brilliant Douglas Murray in that).

    • Dogzzz

      I am desperately trying to find something in there with which to disagree. Not because I enjoy being contrary, or because I oppose your view in any way, I prefer agreeing with other commentators. No I want to vehemently disagree because the future you describe is so horrific to me as a believer in freedom, democracy and the rule of English law, that the potential of a free “multicultural” England becoming a totalitarian monoculture under a violently oppressive, sexist, homophobic and profoundly religionist (and possibly racist) Shari’a law is utterly abhorrent to me.

      Sadly, after the research I have done into Islam and Islamic law and what normal, ordinary, every day Muslims actually believe, and what they tell the rest of us under their Taqiyya duty, I can only regretably conclude that you are entirely correct.

      I fear for the future of our once free tolerant, charitable and Christian country. I do not know what the government will do to tackle this, but I am sure that they will continue to bury their heads in the sand until it is too late and the Islamic invasion and colonisation of our once free nation will become inevitable.

    • tompiper

      This is an extremely cogent comment.

    • Joe Sixpack

      Very good point, except you overlook that Western men also play a role in the sinking birthrate: no willingness to commit, no sense of duty to the next generation or the wider society, etc.

  • rtj1211

    Perhaps the author would publish the following stats:

    1. Female enquiries vs male enquiries to Party HQ about becoming a Conservative PPC.
    2. Female applications vs male applications to become a Tory PPC.
    3. Successful female PPC applicants vs successful male applicants.
    4. % of female PPCs adopted by a constituency vs successful male applicants:
    i. In the 200 safest Tory seats.
    ii. In the middle 250 Tory seats.
    iii. In the 200 safest Labour/LibDem/other seats.
    5. Number of applications made by female PPCs to become adopted vs number made by male counterparts.

    Those are the stats which will tell the truth about women becoming or not becoming Tory MPs.

    If the Party HQ machine is unfriendly to women, ratio 2:1 will be worse for women than men.

    If the ratio 3:2 is worse for women, either the candidate quality is lower or the Party’s criteria for selection are sexist.

    If the percentage in 4 and/or 5 is worse for women, what does that tell us about Tory Party Constituency Associations and Central Office ‘A Lists’??

    It’s always worth breaking down a headline final figure into constituent parts if you want to examine the reasons.

    Of course, if the Tory Party’s image in the country is one of self-absorbed, sexist ex-public school twits who see women as a shag, a cook and a taxi for the children, then the problem may be at the level even of initial enquiries.

    Then of course there is Parliament itself and whether it lends itself to women with toddlers, primary school children etc etc. Plenty of potential for revolution in how Westminster operates. The thought of all votes happening before 6pm is one of quite terrifying simplicity, isn’t it?? Not to mention e-voting using VPN technology to allow MPs to vote from their constituencies, overseas, their kitchen at home etc etc.

    The technology is out there to do this, but the will isn’t.


    • Dogzzz

      If women want to become MPs then they should accept the exact same sacrifice male MPs have to make in terms of children. Men have always given up the rearing of children to forge a successful career and left the child rearing to their spouse. If a woman wants to be an MP, then it would be a good idea for their husband to take up the child rearing responsibility and support their wives, in order for those women to be able to work the unsociable hours required and for them to be able to miss the school run and the sports days, and parent’s evenings and school productions etc…

      Men have made that sacrifice for years. If women want equality with men in traditionally male dominated roles, then they should equally make the same sacrifices. No ifs, no buts. Time for women to take the same down side of equality. I am sick of men having to bend over backwards to patronise women, change the rules to accommodate women, and change the entire balance of the workplace, just so women can then pretend to be “equal”. IF they truly were equal, then they would not require any changes to be made for them at all.

  • Swiss Bob

    And there’s such depth in that pool of confidence amongst your peers, shame that none come to mind that have any competence to go with it.

  • rtj1211

    In fact, the time is already upon us when the outdated ‘lack of female opportunity’ mantras of the Left should be exported to developing countries where it is still perhaps true and Britain should focus on creating a generation of 21st century men who will not be house husbands and servile to the new generation of dominant women looking for wives??

  • John Dalton

    Good luck to all those “strong, confident, independent women” who want to run the country. They fought hard for their “equality” and I hope they enjoy it. Just don’t berate me for being a proud, straight, white male or expect any special treatment – as you won’t get it. Sisters can do it for themselves.

    • Dogzzz

      Thatcher did not require all women shortlists to rise to the top of her profession. She got there on merit and merit alone.

      I agree with you. I am all for gender equality, which means no special favours and no changing the rules in any sexist way to artificially give women a patronising and unfair advantage.

      I am happy to compete with women on equal terms. If they win on merit, then well done and good luck to them. If not, then they should stop blaming our gender differences for their failure.

      • Wessex Man

        No she didn’t and was our best Prime minister for years, this is already a country of equal opportunity if you want it, just ask all the women who were chosen by the members of UKip to stand as candidates for the Euros and won!

    • Augustus

      Quite. Why does any woman insult herself by making one’s gender the centerpiece of fitness for office? Hillary Clinton has even done this in America. Margaret Thatcher made no secret of the fact that the role she played had nothing to do with being a woman, but focussed instead purely on the job. Such women, with inbred sophistication and common sense, should be supported for top jobs. As soon as women start pushing their femininity and start competing with men on that basis, it’s hard to take them seriously.

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