05 June 2007

Race, Class and Candidate Selection.

Bloggers4Labour has been having an interesting discussion on the effect of 'all women shortlists' (AWS) and the suggestion by 3 of the deputy leadership candidates (Hain, Blears, and Cruddas) that all 'black minority ethnic' (BME) shortlists should be introduced. I have left a comment on B4L's post that makes the following points;

1. Our membership is far too small in number and not representative of the population. It is overwhelmingly middle class, male, white (and elderly). So it is not surprising we overwhelmingly choose middle class, male, white candidates (the problem is even worse in other parties).

2. Without introducing a more proportional electoral system for Westminster (which is the real solution to the problem), exclusive shortlists are the only way to change this unfair situation in the short-term.

3. It is patronising and insulting to have AWS etc BUT it is MORE patronising and insulting to insinuate that women are not good enough or not 'interested' in becoming MPs. To accept a process where only 10% of MPs are women is to insinuate just that. Neither situation is satisfactory but at least AWS work.

4. BME shortlists would be too exclusive and divisive and would not address the real problem which is socio-economic, so why not 'all C2DE social class' shortlists?

These quite simple truths seem to have been missed by some of the commenters.

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