It is easy to be self-righteous and say that as I disagree with discrimination of all kinds I feel the term positive discrimination is something of an oxymoron. There is debate in this country at the moment amongst political parties about closed lists whereby to perform a function of increasing the proportion of a particular group’s involvement within politics a list is created with only 1 genre of candidates be it all women or as the current debate all ethnic minorities.

It is certainly true to say that the political establishment does not reflect the population at large, after all 50% of politicians are not women and the ethnic minority percentage is derisory. (Although it is worth pointing out that the political establishment in this country has never been representative of the majority because by and large regardless of gender creed or colour the average politician differs greatly in terms of class. And don’t let anyone attempt to tell you that Britain is a classless society.) I can therefore fully understand the premise of creating a shortlist of one type of candidate to ensure better representation. The trouble is I do not feel this method does improve representation. Quite the contrary it fuels the right-wing who will protest that such lists can prevent the candidate who may be best suited to represent the area being denied because of political correctness. This argument will hold water under these circumstances because it is possible it does not even need to be proven to have been definitively the case or not.

Firstly I believe it is important to study the context of the problem. Why is it that women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in government? Is this simply endemic of a wider disengagement in politics by the population at large? I certainly feel that progressively less and less people are feeling that conventional organs of politics represent them in any way. Naturally this means that the likelihood will be that more and more political candidates will be coming from the current status quo -those who have played the system so to speak. Furthermore it is important to note who is doing the selection of any given candidate because local party membership is subject to the same constraining factors as candidacy. It is therefore no surprise then that the people doing the selection will select candidates from their comfort zone. If you radically alter the people selecting and make this more representative then you are automatically increasing the understanding of more groups to the proceedings and this is likely to bring about a seismic shift in the candidates selected organically.

What is not in dispute is the fact that there is a problem but I would contest that it is a far more widespread issue as the young for example are also far less inclined to get involved in mainstream politics and you cannot solve such a problem by randomly creating closed lists everywhere in an attempt to balance it out, is anyone suggesting that there should be lists where only those under 35 should be standing? The problem is such a measure is only really serving to gloss over the surface, it does not address the murk below and eventually the gloss will become tainted again and the murk simply carries on regardless. You need really to dredge the pond and remove all the clogging shite and then start afresh.

Such a process is not quick I agree and I am sensitive to the accusation that whilst you wait for the right solution to filter thru’ you prolong the life of the inequality. Perhaps in certain areas at certain times a short-term solution must be considered altho’ I would be disappointed if we could genuinely find no better solution than positive discrimination.

The mistake that one must not make is to assume that positive discrimination has anything more than a short-term impact, it does not reform the system because it does not change people’s perceptions it merely imposes a dictat upon them.

Song Of The Day – Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

Original Comments:

Mark Ellott made this comment,
The problem with positive discrimination is that it is still discrimination. I think you have a point – radically alter the demographics of the selection in the first place and you start to shift the balance. What matters is that the most suitable candidate irrespective of gender, sexuality, religious belief or ethnic origin is selected. Positive discrimination fails that test.
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[Redbaron responds – Exactly Mark, the clue is in the term itself which seems to be forgotten, discrimination can never be a long term option that brings about unity because it by its very nature is devisive.]

comment added :: 21st January 2005, 17:47 GMT+01
Pimme made this comment,
Of all countries, I think that Sweden has the highest ratio of women to men in office.
Bill Clinton had all manner of women and minorities in his cabinet, too. Those were the days…now we just have that nut Rice.

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comment added :: 22nd January 2005, 04:38 GMT+01
Danny the Infidel made this comment,
A. Humans in generak are conservatives. You know what you have, but not whqat you get.
B. As a non active but still a member of a large political organication, I know that there are a surtian “lag” within even progressiv organisations.

C. Women are “educated” to not demand anny high ranking places within the establishment. It is a generation thing and it will adjust in time.

D. I have found that refuges from states with opression or a corupt political organitation shun all political life.

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comment added :: 22nd January 2005, 22:51 GMT+01