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Why we need more women MPs, by Boni Sones

A guest post by Boni Sones

Boni is one of life’s characters, we used to work together at the Cambridge Evening News and she has always been a great enthusiast. We met up again recently and I offered her a guest post to write about the Women’s Parliamentary Radio station she is heavily involved with, I must admit I did not know it existed. She describes the need for more women MPs to “civilise” Westminster.

Thanks for asking me why I set up www.wpradio.co.uk a web based radio for women politicians across party and across nations. As you know I co-authored a book: “Women in Parliament:the New Suffragettes” which looked at the contribution women politicians across party have made to Westminster and public policy since the 1997 election.

The march into Westminster of the “101 Blair’s Babes,” was highly significant and women politicians across party are changing how  politics is conducted. All change is incremental, male politicians of the past, and present will tell you that too, but to suggest that the women have had no impact at all is wrong.

The women politicians I know work incredibly hard and are subject to  the most vicious personal attacks of any politicians, and those personal attacks often embrace their family members too.

It is incredible to think that a gender balanced parliament may be  hundreds of years away. A sobering thought is that however much women themselves may not want to support positive methods of discrimination,  such as twinning, positive discrimination is needed as it is the only measure which is shown to work.
 
Regime change elsewhere in the World often results in gender balanced Parliaments. When you start from scratch you can devise methods to ensure people are represented equally by men and women. Meanwhile the slow old world of “suited and booted” politics in Westminster grinds on, and it could be a long, long time before we have a truly representative number of women MPs in Parliament. No wonder
Nadine Dorries needs to blog about her weird life there.

If wpradio.co.uk – supported by the BBC, Hansard, Fawcett, EOC and the Electoral Reform Society – can help others listen to and hear for themselves the contribution women politicians across party are having day in and day out, than all well and good.

Policy making is changing and it is changing as a result of women bringing the concerns of their constituents to the Chamber more often.  Robin Cook, as Leader of the House, commented on how much the Chamber had changed since women have been there in significant numbers. He said they had a “civilising” impact.

Let’s hope that Harriet Harman or Hazel Blears can help civilise the Labour leadership too. All those “suited and booted” men are likely to turn off a future generation of women whom we need to engage with the political process if they are to be encouraged to stand for parliament. It’s also been shown that a woman candidate can attract a few more voters.

Perhaps hearing the voices of women parliamentarians through wpradio.co.uk might help young women to engage with the political process in the future. They may decide that they’ll shoulder the ridicule – “oh their shrill voices!” – “oh their messy hair” – “and did you see what colour dress they were wearing?” so that Westminster is half men and half women before my great-great-great grandchildren are born.
 
Yours ever hopeful…and still marching on…..


7 Comments

  1. Thanks both of you.

  2. Rachel, I agree that you would make a great candidate and wish you good luck with your search for a parliamentary constituency.

  3. Rachel, you get my vote! What you said in a few sentences made more sense than Boni Sones piece in its entirety. Your comments come with no agenda attached.

  4. I do think we women add a different perspective, despite the fact I agree with much of what Quasar9 says. But then as an aspiring candidate, that makes me biased.
    When I started in Medical School, I was in the first cohort that had 50% women. We have all generally done well, and added alot to medicine and our patients. I am sure more women will add to parliament and constituencies.
    However, the best candidate should always be selected for each seat and then democracy will decide!

  5. “The women politicians I know work incredibly hard and are subject to the most vicious personal attacks of any politicians, and those personal attacks often embrace their family members too.”

    Who is making these attacks? Male politicians? Do women politicians work harder than men?

    If Hazel Blears or Harriet Harman is the answer then someone is asking the wrong question.

    Social engineering is helping to create a country that’ll become less attractive than it should be. I’m just glad I’m old enough so I won’t be around to witness all the damage that is done in its name.

  6. I would prefer fewer lawyers in Parliament than more women.

  7. Well being a male, I may have a ‘natural’ bias
    But it does not matter whether parliamentarians are male or female, mums or dads – what matters is what they stand for.

    After all a woman can be just as much of a bigot (with tash and all), racist (regardless of skin colour), and classist (in favour of privilege and/or ‘merit’, over equality of opportunity for all) – regardless of gender.

    And in today’s world of politically correctness you can not even be sure if you are even getting the ‘real’ thing when it comes to a candidate’s sex or gender.

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  1. Ellee Seymour - MCIPR, PRESS CONSULTANT, JOURNALIST, POLITICAL AND PR BLOGGER. » Social booking tags and a Daily Mugshot - [...] I was also able to catch up with my fellow Cambridge Evening News colleague Boni Sones who runs the…

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