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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.
Who coined this phrase and what does it exactly mean? We will ensure you work longer hours, for less money, but will give you the odd pat on the head? What phrase is next? Inclusive racism? Smiley cynicism? Benjamin Disraeli stated: “I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution.” Other than that the term has never really been satisfactorily defined. What we have seen over the last five years is thousands of sick people dying after being declared fit for work, rising levels of food banks, soaring benefit sanctions and public service being cut to the bone. There is nothing here about preserving good things, nor is there any benevolence – so where the hell does the term ‘compassionate conservatism’ come from?
Imagine you are a member of a tenants association in London. For years you turn up at the tenants association meetings to elect the committee and occasionally speak from the floor. A few years later you move to Manchester and join another tenants association. Having gained voting rights for the tenants association in Manchester, you then write to the tenants association in London, requesting the right to vote there as well.
In your letter you explain that you still feel invested in the area – no, you have no intention of moving back to the area, you are unaware of any developments or news (other than what you read in the Murdoch press), but as your neighbours still live there you therefore have an investment.
When you get a letter back explaining that as you no-longer pay live on the housing estate or pay rent there, you have grounds to be there. The area has changed since you moved, and part of the reason you left was you didn’t like the area anyway.
Yes you are probably wondering how many people have has tenants associations meetings now, but the point is this – why are expatriates being granted the right to vote indefinitely?
According to the Votes for Life Bill (see page 96-97) the advantages of the bill are:
End the disenfranchisement after an arbitrary 15 years of British citizens living abroad, enabling them to continue voting in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections.
I have issues with this statement – the use of the word ‘arbitrary’ for a start, given the various definitions, it could be considered a weasel word. Also if someone lives in another EU country they have the right to vote in EU parliamentary elections – in their country of residence.
Make it easier for overseas electors to cast their votes in time to be counted.
Raising the limit from 15 years to life, does not seem to tie in with issues with voting via the post.
Encourage larger numbers of British citizens living abroad to register to vote in UK elections.
Yes, but why?
The real reason behind this, is sadly obvious – during Michael Howard’s leadership, Nigel Evans was giving the task of galvanising expats to vote Conservative. This would seem to suggest that the Conservatives are hoping to build on their impressive 24% share of the electorate.
Another question I would like to ask is – how is your constituency determined? Do you vote in the constituency that you no longer live, even if that constituency has been superseded by another one.
As far as I’m aware no white paper has been released – as time goes on we may get more information – so far though there is little to suggest this nothing other than a powergrab.
There are similarities between Corbyn and Major
- They have previously had an affair with a parliamentary colleague,
- Neither of them went to University,
- Their first front bench teams were noted for a lack of women,
- They were not gifted public speakers,
- They believed an open dialogue with Sinn Fein was necessary in order to secure the Northern Ireland peace process.
Under John Major the Conservative Party won more votes in 1992, than any other party in history. Clearly you can’t judge a book by its cover!
Why are MPs allowed to shout down bills they object to? I am all in favour of MPs speaking out against bills they oppose – but I firmly believe legislation should go through the proper channels. If it gets defeated in a vote fair enough. Serial filibuster Philip Davies has just ‘talked out’ a bill to grant carers exemption from car parking fees. It’s high-time the speaker of the House of Commons was granted the power to (politely) tell a MP like Davies to STFU and allow other people to speak. Alternately they allow a vote to go ahead when the time expires. I don’t begrudge Davies the right to oppose such legislation – but I object to the existence of such absurd parliamentary laws.