Monday, February 20, 2006

I've had a bit of stick from Tristan (thanks!) about what he sees as tokenism with regards to Simon's declared intention to appoint two deputies, one a woman. Of course, whenever we seek to address inequality there is a danger of it being seen as tokenism, and I agree that is not what we want. However, I have to say that where there is some recognition of the importance of proportionality it does change things.

For many years I was active in Unison where proportionality is a policy which has clearly lead to the union being far more representative. Proportionality applies across the board, including ensuring low paid workers are represented. If politics is about anything surely it is about representation of the people by the people. For too long our representation has been of the people by the elite. Yes, we need the best candidates, but who defines best and invariably chooses those candidates........white men who how ever subconsciously choose in their mould. Even now some seem to have been seduced by the charm and seductive packaging of Mr Cameron into thinking that this is what we need as a leader, Blair mark III. We make the mistake of thinking that if someone is intelligent and articulate they are also wise and able to connect with the reality of people's lives, sometimes perhaps we should be prepared to sacrifice a little intelligence, charm and spin for a dollop of wisdom and gritty reality!

But thanks at least Tristan for agreeing with my analysis that Ming didn't seem to have fully grasped the issue and Chris kept putting his foot in it. Even if you don't agree with Simon's proposals at least he has a track record of initiating debate and moving things forward, and he is the only one who seems to appreciate the urgency of the situation.

So, I have to say I would go a lot further than Simon, introduce proportionality across the board and have not only co-deputies but co-chairs of all our committees!

1 comment:

Tristan said...

I have to say I really disagree with you.
Creation of dual posts for no reason other than proportionality is tokenism.
We should be selecting people on their merits only, not to try and fill quotas.
As liberals we surely agree that gender, ethic origin, class or sexual orientation have no effect on ability to perform a job (except in a few special cases like the classic Women's Officer in student unions, obviously a man can't perform this job satisfactorily) so why should we be creating posts just for women/minorities?

The reason I support Reflecting Britain is it acknowleges this, the aim is to provide support to those who feel they are at a disadvantage within the party for whatever reason.
We can't select more ethnic minority candidates because they don't put themselves up for selection in many cases, so we seek to encourage them (we do this in my constituency anyway for council elections, but because they're good candidates more than anything else).

This is all on principle, the other point against the dual-deputies/chairs is that we only have one for a reason. Who decides who does what? All it needs is for two people to have a clash of personalities and everything grinds to a halt (its bad enough when there's a clash between committee members...)
Also, there's a chance that the female deputy/chair will be seen as getting the job based upon her gender rather than merit, which may not be the case but it will be the perception.

We now have several very good female MPs (among the best in the house), they got there because they were good, not becaue they were female. What the party did was to offer them support in what was (and still is to an extent) a very male dominated arena.

We need to level the playing field for entry not introduce token individuals.

I think we will soon be seeing female or minority candidates for party president (if not the leadership). There are a number of female MPs who could possibly be deputy leader on their own merits.
This is what we should encourage, minorities and women to stand on their own merits on a level playing field. Tokenism does not help that, it just provides an illusion of equality.