Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Liberal Democrats and all-women shortlists
I remember at a conference a few years ago attending a session on the future of the profession. The panel turned out to consist of four middle-aged men in suits,
Rather to my surprise, the wrongness of this hit me with the sort of force that hearing racist language did when I was a teenager.
Yes, I have had my consciousnesses raised.
Because of this I wrote some a couple of year ago that I am now attracted to the idea of all-women shortlists.
But I see two problems with the proposals to be discussed at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York. You can find them in a blog post by Mark Pack.
The first is practical: would the proposals make a difference if they were implemented?
In 2010 we had women candidates fighting a raft of promising seats but failed to gain them. In 2015 we had them fighting seats vacated by sitting Lib Dem MPs and didn't win those either.
Do we have a clear enough idea of the seats we can realistically hope to gain, and therefore should place women candidates, in 2020?
The second problem I see lies in the proposal that we should "support diverse candidates with extra training and mentoring".
I suspect that what such candidates need is not training and mentoring so much as practical help with things like funding and child care.
No doubt we could all benefit from training and mentoring, but to single out diverse candidates as being in particular need of them risks reinforcing stereotypes rather than overcoming them.