The political female defecit

Westminister, it goes without saying, is a boys club. Of the five political parties represented in England, only one is led by a woman.* Various attempts at positive discrimination have been tried  – all female shortlists, a women’s equality party and now Harman is proposing a female deputy leader. Farron has proposed a deputy female leader for the Liberal Democrats (as all eight sitting Liberal Democrats MPs are male). Neither of those proposals are in effect – Harman has simply voiced a personal opinion and Farron’s plan is stuck in limbo.

There is one simple solution to fixing this problem: good old proportional representation. The Scottish Parliament uses proportional representation. The SNP, the Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservative Party are all led by women.

First-past-the-post (for reasons that are unclear) creates boys clubs. America (the only other major economy to use first-past-the-post) has the same problem. The Democrats and the Republicans have one female running mate each, during presidential elections. If Clinton wins the election, she will end over 200 years of male rule.

Here’s some figures to chew over:

4/9  members of the welsh cabinet are female (nearly half)

7/22 of the UK cabinet are female  (less than a third)

Thatcher herself only appointed 1 female Cabinet Minister – to the non-existent post of Lord Privy Seal (with Baroness Young only holding the post for a year).

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has never been a woman.


*The Green Party to its credit has had two consecutive female leaders, which must be a first in British Politics.

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