Saturday, 18 July 2009
You wouldn't think women make up more than half of the population...
The Speaker's Conference committee has importantly drawn attention to the unique opportunity that has been provided for parliament and politics. With the great efflux of MPs leaving the House of Commons come the next election, mainly over the expenses scandal, there is a great chance for change.
Even the Liberal Democrats are pretty poor in terms of representation of minority groups. However, as the Liberal Democrats were the cleanest party in terms of expenses, the ability to improve representation and take advantage of the efflux is reduced.
It is unsettling whilst watching Prime Minister's Questions, to see a Tory bench largely consisting of middle age, white men, whilst claiming to have modernised. What is modern about leaving the European People's Party, to form the European Conservatives and Reformists Group with a bunch of right wing extremists, beats me. The Labour front bench has also come in for criticism of late, with Flint accusing Brown of using women for little more than female window dressing. A recent programme called "Gordon's Women" that was aired on BBC Radio 4, featured several senior female Labour MPs expressing their concern around the Downing Street's culture and attitude towards women under Brown.
The committee have importantly highlighted the need for change, as at the moment the government, and parliament as a whole, simply does not represent the population. This falls under the need for greater democratic renewal in general, which includes tackling the unfair first past the post electoral process, which with the bias media reporting helps promote the adversarial system that leads amongst many things, to an executive that has limited accountability to parliament and the public.
The representation of minority groups such as women, ethnic minorities and disabled people has improved over recent years, it would be wrong to deny that. However, there is a desire for further improvement in this area of democracy, as people are calling out for action, instead of empty words and promises.