As I was wandering through the blogs I found this piece by the inestimable Longrider ripping into an article by Jackie Ashley of the Grauniad. The thrust of Ms Ashley's witterings is that politics is dominated by men and that is a very bad thing indeed. Now, I agree that it would be a very positive move to have more women involved in politics and that there is no reason I can see for criticizing women more than men for a lack of sartorial elegance. However, Dear Ceilingcat, how she does pick her examples of the unjustly derided:
Jackie begins with the condescension from a number of people regarding Harriet "Fuckwit" Harman doing PMQs. Yes she is the deputy leader of the Labour Party. No she has shown nothing but incompetence after imbecility. Is it any surprise that she is derided when she organised a donation to her campaign from her husband, (in the form of a mortgage extension on a jointly owned property), and failed to declare it despite the fact that her husband was the Labour Party Treasurer.
We then move on to Wendy "I'm not corrupt, really I'm not, look, despite admitting that I broke the law I've been cleared" Alexander.
Next up we have the delightful Jacqui "Lets lock up people for 42 days without charge. What do you mean that would require some justification?" Sith.
Jackie's last example is the terrible Hilary "Yes, I was nearly shot by snipers" Clinton.
All the women above have come under fire from the media but given how pathetically shit they are how is this surprising? Jackie's comparison, the frequently unclad Carla Bruni, differs not because she is a rather attractive lady but because she is not a politician and has not demonstrated a level of incompetence on par with being unable to tie shoelaces.
Having made a pigs ear of her argument on prominent women in politics Jackie then goes on to chastise blogging as "dominated by rightwing male individualists and libertarians." and on this she does seem to be correct. There are relatively few women bloggers of note although the excellent Trixy and the ever so sweary Emerald Bile are outstanding exceptions. The high traffic blogs do however tend to be rightwing, individualist, libertarian and male.
The argument needs to be broken down into two parts though; Why rightwing / individualist / libertarian? and why male?
The answer to first is fairly obvious at least as far as Libertarians and individualists go. There is no other outlet to be found. The papers and commercial TV show little interest being more intent on scare and scandal. The Beeb identifies much more with socialist paternalism than any other philosophy and so is hardly likely to lend it's support. People will speak where they can and if Libertarians had access to the newspapers and were confined to them, you would get the same sort of representation that you see now in blogging.
Why male, both in blogging and politics, is a far more tricky question that positively encourages one to race to pseudoscience 101 for answers. What we can say is that men are far more likely to be interested, to have their own blog or to stand for a political party. I don't know why women are less interested as a whole and I fervently wish that it was not the case. It would be far better for our parliament to be represented by an approximation of society than a highly skewed version. There have been various, (thoroughly illiberal), attempts to address this imbalance, (most recently the Tories vile, corrupt and stupid EMP selection process), and they all have a terrible side effect, we get morons like Jackie's examples rising to positions well beyond their competence.
To see why take this example: We have a situation where only 1 in 100,000 left handers are entering politics whereas 1 in every 10,000 right handers enter. We know nothing about these people other than their handedness but we have decided that we need more lefthanders to be representative. Due to us gifting more position for the lefthanders 10 people compete for each position, the righthanders to get a similar position must compete against 5,000. The obvious problem is that less competition will tend to produce less able winners.
Of course women make up slightly over 50% of the population, (men have an annoying tendency to die early), but since so few go into politics there is a limited field of candidates. This is not to say that the men will be superb, (see all too damn many of them), but the last woman in the Commons that I had any significant respect for was Betty Boothroyd as speaker, (she was genuinely brilliant, not just better than that Fulmar's eruption we have now).
So what is the solution? The under representation of women is not desirable and the fixes have been disastrous, (as so many top down solutions are). I think that the only possible solution is for those interested in politics, (mostly men), to make an effort to encourage those women they know to get involved as well. Will it be a quick fix? Decidedly not. Might it actually work? In time it may help redress the balance.
Anyone with bright ideas on this please leave them in the comments.
Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.
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