Faux feminism and the gender balanced leadership

There is a suggestion that the Labour Party rules should direct that where the Leader is male, the Deputy Leader should be female, and presumable vice versa. It makes me want to howl at not only how unfeminist it is as a proposal but how anti-feminist the effects could be.

This is a notably warped proposal that circumvents the dilemma that as a party we always elect men to the leadership and they do all they can to discourage subsequent elections.

Should I just rant or would it just be easier for everyone if I put this in bullet points?

  1. You don’t have equality when the position likely to be male is the one with all the power and the position likely to be held by a female has no power.
  2. If you present to the party and the country your team, gender balanced in this manner, you are not displaying a less sexist party, you are duping people into thinking it is a less sexist party and so reducing the will to change.

So what does need to be done to make the party less sexist? It’s a very long list (though I am at least proud to be in a party that is trying to do something about it). Sticking to the question of leadership, there are a few issues.

  1. Have a maximum length of term in which a leader can hold office without seeking re-election. This would increase the number of opportunities women would have to seek the top job.
  2. Arrange the party rules so that the leadership shortlist is 50% female.
  3. Mandatory reselections for MPs each election so that women get more opportunities to get on the first rung of the political ladder.

But saying that, it’s clear that the party and leadership won’t consider these ideas – so what might be a sticking plaster to make the “mandatory gender balanced leadership” a slightly less regressive move? I think merging the deputy leadership with the elected party chair role would be the answer. And specifically, that role should have some actual powers, for example that person should choose the parliamentary members of the NEC or could be the actual line manager of the General Secretary.

By giving the position some power, it actually makes some sense of having a gender balanced team, because the power too will be balanced.

But a fully functioning internal democracy might be better.

  • LesAbbey

    Point 3 especially. We need something to stop the likes Stuart Bell being such an embarrassment.

  • swatantra

    There should be even more scrutiny of those MPs in safe seats. In fact no seat should be for life but limited to a term of 3 years of service. MPs should be reminded that they are there to serve the people and not their own interests. I would like to see more of a turnover in our representatives so that new blood is continuously coming through.
    The Chair of the Party should be elected by members on OMOV and separate from the Parliamentary Party. The Chair would represent Party members and not necessarily just the MPs.
    The Shadow Cabinet should however be chosen by the Leader and not by the votes of the PLP.
    So the Leader and the Chair would in effect counterbalance each other, and we have a more effective and challenging Party.
    I would keep the gender balance.
    And add All BAME shortlists in at least 30 winnable seats.

    • swatantra

      Ed should be thinking right now about who he is going to put into the Lords in time for the New Years Honours List.
      You can expect the Coalition to swamp the House with their placemen and women.
      So what Ed needs are some good loyal Labour members and a greater number from the BME community. At the moment the Lords is not representative at all. And we may have to wait till 2015 for those All BAME shortlists.

      • treborc

        That’s why it should be ended and a system in which people are voted in or out 2011 and we make people into lords, for god sake, mostly old farts who have basically given money. or carried some bloody leader into power.

  • LesAbbey

    How about term limits for MPs. It would stop politics becoming a profession to some extent.

  • treborc

    15 years three terms and you step down ending people like Hutton, Field, and to some degree people like Brown who is now living off his wages while running around the world making money , he’s earning a fortune telling people he did not cause the banking crises it was “ah well” not the Americans otherwise they kick him out it must be the disabled and sick or the poor.

    Brown is not working as an MP, he has not taken up his seat since he was shoved out, and I suspect he’s making hay now before he steps down.

  • treborc

    gosh not a lot going on even after the TUC conference