Monday, 25 February 2013

Gender Equality in the Assembly can we achieve it?

I find myself half nodding to Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood saying  a change in the law might be needed to make sure more women are elected to the Welsh assembly.Leanne  said that legislation might be necessary to alter the gender balance

In 2006, 52% of the 60 AMs were women, but that figure has now fallen to a Gender balance could well be in reverse in the Assembly
However, she was not specific on what changes were needed.

She said:
 "Within Plaid Cymru, we have a strong internal democracy which reflects how much we rely on the party membership as a grassroots body.
"The side effect of this is that measures to promote women are not always at their strongest, but must be balanced out with local party control.
"Over the years we have also seen that this is true outside of Plaid Cymru as well, as tensions between local party democracy and central party machines have been apparent in other parties."
The problem which Leanne seems to recognise is that previous attempts  to address this especially by Labour was used to make sure that it had greater control of selection and to exclude Left wing Men and Women and resulted in an intake into Westminster  of Blairite MP who did bugger all for ordinary Women.

So how can we address the situation?

Legislation would be difficult you could address it to political parties  but what about Independents?
You could for instance introduce STV and insist that Political Parties have at least Two candidates with one candidate being female..

Burt the real issue should be that just as working class and ethnic politician forget their roots and whilst they make noises are son absorbed into the political bubble.
The same is true of feminist. The likes of Labour's Harriet Harman make all the right noises when speaking on Women's rights to the annoyance of chauvinist male MPs on both sides of the House

But she was part of the Blair government who talked about equality but did little for ordinary working class women

And that the real challenge . It is the position of ordinary women on low pay and little chance of advancemnt which we must address..

Leanne has asked the question but not provided an answer . But then again who amongst us have one that will not only work but benefit all Women not just the political class?


Anonymous said...

I do find this a little bizarre. 44% is pretty much paraty. It's down to a few election votes which can't be accounted for. That is, had Helen Mary Jones kept Llaneli, then rather than fall to 44% from 52% it would probably be 50%.

I know, how about Keith Davies stand down for Helen Mary?

I'm also a little unsure of this. Remember Plaid putting Dafydd Wigley second to Janet Ryder (who she?) in 2003? Can you imagine the SNP putting Salmond second to another MSP who's made no impact?! No, that's why the SNP is in power and Plaid aren't.

The biggest issue for Plaid isn't finding female candidates it's finding strong creadible candidates. Will Adam Price stand in 2016 or will he be sidelined again because Plaid are too nice to tell Rhodri Glyn that 17 years is enough time to make and impact in an Assembly and the world doesn't owe him a living?

maen_tramgwydd said...

It was Plaid's gender policies which kept Wigley out of the Assembly, and indirectly led to the current weakened state of the party, after a decade of decline under poor leadership.

A lot of thought needs to be given before rushing into ill-considered policies.

In any party, the BEST candidates are needed, regardless of gender. A policy which narrows the choice and potentially excludes the most talented and experienced, whilst ensuring the election of second or even third rate candidates being selected can have serious consequences, particularly for small parties with a small pool of talented individuals.

Anonymous said...

Plaid needs the best possible candidates not jobs for the girls to make up the numbers. Bloody silly policy insulting to women who make their way to the top on their own merits.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

The Wigley losing out to gender balance story is a myth. Wigley was put 2nd on the North Wales list because he would only have been elected if Ieuan Wyn lost Ynys Môn which would have given Plaid a decapitation problem caused by Labour changing the rules. Plaid didn't want BOTH Ieuan and Dafydd elected.

glynbeddau said...

I find the "Best possible candidates " argument a bit odd ". If you are going to have the "Best candidates" then surely a near 50-50 Gender balance would make this more likely. Or is the suggestion Men are the best candidates.

How many female candidates who would have rivaled Dafydd Wigley or Adam Price have been lost over the years because they have not been selected or put themselves forward because a man is seen as the Best Candidate?

Will legislation make this better? Immediately probably not but over the long term it should se as using all the talents and not just a majority of male ones.

The problem is that throughout Wales by excluding Women from senior positions we are wasting talent.

maen_tramgwydd said...

Re Alwyn's comment. If I remember correctly, Labour changed the rules some years later, thus the 'gender balance' policy worked against Wigley. To my mind he was a better candidate than the person elected because of Plaid's gender rule. That of course is a matter of opinion. But, if he was deemed to be the better candidate, then one has to accept that the policy did not achieve the objective of getting the best candidate elected.

Everything else follows. The party was stuck with IWJ for a decade, and look where it is now as a consequence. Admittedly it could have been worse, and who knows, if elected Wigley might have turned out to be a washout. It's all hypothetical, but then, that's what strategy is all about in politics - achieving power and bringing about change. Plaid has largely failed in that department.

My gut instinct is not to overplay the gender issue, though balance needs to be encouraged, but not at the price of political suicide. The SNP certainly didn't make the same mistake, and it has ended up with a superb leader and deputy, and a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

No! The first election where Labour's "decapitation policy" was instituted by changing the rules was the 2007 election - a change of rules based solely on their belief that they could gain Ynys Môn and scupper the Plaid Leadership!