Even more jobs for the boys

May 14, 2010 1:28 pm

Cabinet 1

By Mary Honeyball

Cabinet 2

When forming the Con-Lib Dem coalition government, David Cameron claimed the UK had entered a new kind of ‘progressive’ politics. I fail to see what is progressive about a cabinet dominated by men, where women are outnumbered nearly five to one. Critics are already complaining of a “men only” group.

The growing concern is that government will once again become the preserve of men. My old colleague Margaret Beckett, the former Labour Foreign Secretary, has — rightly, I believe — warned that a lack of women at the top of government could further alienate parts of the electorate.

Although we have a record number of women in parliament this year — 139 compared with 126 in the last parliament — just four women gained senior roles in the cabinet. This lack of female participation threatens to alienate an entire section of the electorate who already feel unrepresented.

As an MEP I am embarrassed that we are hailed as one of the world’s greatest democracies but the UK comes only 52nd in the world ranking of numbers of women MPs in national parliaments. This is truly abysmal and we should be embarrassed at our apathy towards the situation.

Further research published by the campaign group the Fawcett Society showed that Britain was now towards the bottom of a European league table showing numbers of women in cabinet. A quick glance at our European neighbours in the report shows that outside the UK the gender balance is just that — balanced. Spain’s 17-strong cabinet contained nine women, while Germany’s cabinet of 16 included six women. And figures from the Electoral Reform Society paint an equally embarrassing picture: with just 21% of women, the UK parliament compares badly with the German Bundestag, on 33%, the Dutch parliament, on 42%, and the world’s most equal parliaments, Rwanda, on 56%, and Sweden, on 46%. We will become the laughing stock before long if we do not develop a sophisticated approach to getting more women into parliament. It’s a shame the Lib Dems didn’t have a similar policy to Labour’s All Women Shortlists, which in the last parliament went some way towards redressing the imbalance.

Prime Minister Cameron and his Deputy Nick Clegg are proclaiming a new era of coalition politics in Britain. But, when it comes to giving women senior roles and responsibility, it seems clear the old school mentality of jobs for the boys remains.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Featured Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Former Labour leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown is set to resign as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath “within days” according to a report from the Sunday Mirror. Brown, who played a key role in the Scottish referendum campaign this year – giving a barnstorming speech on the eve of the vote that defined the case for the union. Brown’s rumoured departure follows his long-time ally Alistair Darling’s decision to quit Parliament in 2015. The Sunday Mirror reports: “Gordon Brown will […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Neil Findlay MSP, who is running to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is calling on the Labour Party to clarify what information will be given to members with Leadership ballot papers. At the moment it looks as though the booklet with candidate statements in it only lists the nominations each candidate received from Parliamentarians and not from Constituency Labour Parties, trade Unions or socialist societies. In response to this, Findlay has released the following statement: “Over the last […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    After this week’s Twitter row at the Rochester by-election, I am using my keynote speech to the Labour East Regional Conference today to say that it is UKIP who truly offends working class sentiment and represents a party which is fundamentally un-British. Today I am lucky to serve as a Euro MP but, like many in our movement, I grew up on a council estate living in poverty, so don’t need any lectures from UKIP about snobbery. First, we can’t counter UKIP […]

    Read more →
  • News Balls says money raised from banking fines should go to the NHS

    Balls says money raised from banking fines should go to the NHS

    In a speech today at Labour’s East of England regional conference in Ipswich, Ed Balls has announced that £1bn raised from banks who are fined for manipulating the markers should go to the NHS. He is calling on George Osborne to include this in his Autumn Statement, due to take place on the 3rd December. This also comes after many health care professionals said due to funding cuts, “the NHS and our social care services are at breaking point.” Balls […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Join the 1,000 – building a movement for Labour’s future in Scotland

    Join the 1,000 – building a movement for Labour’s future in Scotland

    Last Tuesday I stopped by a Team Findlay phone bank in Glasgow. I was expecting to see a half dozen people making calls. There were close to 40. And that was just in Glasgow. More people were hitting the phones from Aberdeen to Ayrshire and from Dundee to Dumfries to take part in what we’re calling ‘Call 4 Change’. It’s been like this since my campaign kicked off two weeks ago. We launched ‘Neil 4 Scotland’ in the Miners’ Welfare in […]

    Read more →