In the aftermath of the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections there are things to be grateful for and things to analyse and question.
I for one am grateful that the good people of Glasgow saw fit not to elect George Galloway to Holyrood.
Galloway is a marmite politician it’s almost impossible to be indifferent to him – you either love him or hate him. Galloway was a master rhetorician and remains an impressive and passionate public speaker. However he has also, in my opinion, become a shadow of his former self – a parody of the passionate crusader he once was.
There is also Galloways questionable support of certain Arabic regimes - I wonder what he makes of the Arab spring?
If anyone doubts Galloways status as an amazing orator they should watch his performance against the US Senate. Where he effectively showed them what it was to be a politician.
However despite barnstorming political performances like this Galloway is unfortunately better known and ridiculed for the likes of this:
The reason to celebrate the non-election of Galloway is simple. He is no longer a politician and has become more of a media circus. His presence in the parliament would have been an unwelcome combative influence and denigrated the institution. The Scottish people were right not to elect George despite a history of good political performances such as this:
Galloway is correct to take Paxman to task on this issue and it relates to one of the issues arising from this years Scottish election.
That of the ratio of male to female MSPS.
I would say that it is incorrect to look at the election results in debating this issue. As then all you are doing is debating the electorates decision in not electing women. You are basically doing nothing to criticise the parties involved in how they selected or promoted their candidates rather you are describing and bemoaning the perceived role of women in our society.
If you want the parties to address the issue you have to confront how they select, who they select and where they select them.
If they have a bias towards selecting men in safe seats then they have a case to answer.
If they have a bias towards selecting men in general, through whatever means, they have a case to answer.
They most certainly do not have a case to answer based on the electorates decision. The only people they have to answer to in that regard are the people they now represent.
This is a complex issue and one that needs tackling but sensationalist spreading of misleading information and data will only harm the cause of equality not strengthen it.
In politics the argument that can be dismissed because it is based on false premises is no argument at all.
Well unless it reflects the prejudices and biases of the society in which it rises – and let’s face it any argument about women being unfairly represented rises in a male dominated patriarchal society still.
It is this society that we have to change – not our voting systems, nor I suspect the parliamentary selection processes of the parties. We risk losing more by “gaming” the system to force society into a shape it is not. Of course in some cases equality legislation can work – but I suspect only in the sense that they reduce the opportunities for discrimination and not where they err on the side of positive discrimination.
Positive discrimination reinforces prejudices and I would be cautious in implementing anything like that – particularly in an electoral system.
Women are already under-represented in politics, there is lots of research that suggests they are also treated differently and more unfairly in some cases than their male counterparts. Changing the system so it makes it harder to see if a female MSP or MP is selected and elected under their own merits as oppossed to just their gender is not the way forward.
In my opinion such an approach would only denigrate the standing of our female political representitives and set the cause of a more equal and fair society back rather than push it forward.
Of course this is a complex issue and I welcome debate and discussion. I also look forward to reading better informed and reasoned takes on the issue.
I also hope you will forgive me the conceit (and perhaps irony) of using a man as a means of introducing and framing this issue.