Even more jobs for the boys

14th May, 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 Labour launch NHS week tomorrow with a new poster and a dossier to highlight Tory deception

    Labour launch NHS week tomorrow with a new poster and a dossier to highlight Tory deception

    Tomorrow Labour will launch NHS week – to highlight the damage that the Tories will do to the health service. This will include a new poster (launched tomorrow and featured below) and a dossier which will highlight that the Tories are deceiving the electorate when it comes to NHS spending. In particular the party will point out that the Conservative’s plan to double the pace of cuts in 2016 would seriously damage the NHS and that they won’t explain where […]

    Read more →
  • News Cooper slams “immoral” Theresa May, and calls for Med rescue to be restarted ASAP

    Cooper slams “immoral” Theresa May, and calls for Med rescue to be restarted ASAP

    After the tragic reports overnight that hundreds of people have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat capsized, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called on the EU to “restart the rescue” as soon as possible. Cooper also slammed Theresa May’s behaviour – arguing that rescue operations should be stopped in order to deter others from coming – as “immoral”. Here’s what she had to say: “Today’s dreadful and distressing tragedy shows how urgently we need EU and international action to prevent thousands […]

    Read more →
  • Comment How the Tories turned me into a Labour councillor

    How the Tories turned me into a Labour councillor

    General elections have a way of focusing the mind and crystallising the differences between Britain’s political parties. And so the old accusation that “you’re all the same” seems to have lost its resonance in recent weeks. The Greens and UKIP are receding in the polls, and the traditional red-blue choice is returning to the fore. The stark choice between five more years of Dickensian policies under David Cameron’s Tories or an economy that works for all under Ed Miliband’s Labour is […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour will make the railways a priority if they win in May

    Labour will make the railways a priority if they win in May

    Labour will make their rail plans a priority if they win in May and launch a review of the franchising system in their first 100 days of government. The Labour party’s plans for the railways would allow public sector companies to bid on rail franchises against firms. The Sunday Times have reported that Labour would start this process off immediately and that they may put the existing franchising process on hold while they conduct a review into it. A party […]

    Read more →
  • Video When Ed Miliband met a hen party

    When Ed Miliband met a hen party

    Ed Miliband was in the North West yesterday. This is what happened when he got to Chester, and his battlebus bumped into a hen party: Selfie! Selfie! Selfie!

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit