Either the leader or the deputy leader of a political party should always be a woman… or at least that’s what Harriet Harman believes.
Harman is once again trying to push forwards a rule within the Labour Party meaning that one of the two ‘top jobs’ within the party should always be filled by a woman. She believes this, along with making sure at least half of the shadow cabinet are female, will make sure they can really be seen as the party of equal opportunity and equality.
Harman, to give her her due, was elected on arguably her own merit in 1982. However, since 1997 around 50% of Labour women MPs elected have been on an all women shortlist, and now she wants to go one step further and make sure half the shadow cabinet are always female, as well as either the leader or deputy leader of the Labour Party. To do this, goes completely against the principle of equality of opportunity.
How can Labour guarantee that they have the best of their MPs in their cabinet when strict quotas are in place? Some women with less experience will inevitably be promoted to higher positions than their male colleagues who are better qualified for the position, just to meet this quota. This is equally as bad as the discrimination that often occurs in businesses, where less able men are promoted, or given the job, over a women with just as much or more experience, who just happens to be at the age where she may decide to start a family. Both of these cases are discrimination, and neither should be encouraged by the politicians in this country.
If I go into politics in the future, I want to be sure that what I have achieved is because of my skills, experience and personality, not just because I’m female. I don’t want to be part of a quota. I do agree with Harman, the current make up of Parliament does need to change and, in an ideal world; women should make up around 50% of the House of Commons. But that should be done through education, encouraging girls and young women to become more interested and involved in politics and getting rid of the stereotypes surrounding politicians. Positive discrimination is not the answer, it’s just patronising!
If Harman is successful in achieving these rules and restrictions for the Labour party, then I just hope the Conservatives can find a fairer, more equal and better way of getting more women involved in politics.