Electoral reform – the alternative vote and women in politics

In just a few weeks we will be voting on whether on not we want to reform our current electoral system with a view to making politics fairer.

Throughout the debate however, despite an apparent desire among many people to move towards a more proportionately representative Parliament, little mention has been given to the issue of diversity.

We’ve had the vote for over 100 years now and still only one in five MPs are women. Women hold only four of the 23 coliation cabinet positions.

Why is this? Is it a fundamental flaw in our political system, or simply a reflection of women’s interest in politics? If Sweden can manage 47% women, you have to question the system don’t you? How can we possibly achieve equality when are views and experiences are not be represented at the highest levels?

The Fawcett Society, the UKs leading campaigning organisation for equality between men and women, are currently lobbying government to highlight the importance of improving diversity as part of any sort of real reform. Please read about their ‘Women in Politics’ campaign and support them in any way you can.



  1. 29 March, 2011 / 9:36 am

    That picture is horrifying and indicative of the mess our country is sinking into. I’ll be voting for AV in May. I just hope it makes a difference.

  2. Beth
    29 March, 2011 / 9:50 am

    I went through a stage of thinking I wanted to be an MP and was going out with a guy at the time who played golf with our local MP (please don’t judge me for it). So, I spent a week shadowing the local MP – having a teenage single mother shadow him did wonders in PR for him. I can honestly say I was shocked at what I heard and saw. When asked what school I had been to I replied and he then asked whether I was a ‘day student’ or not – I didn’t even know what that meant! I was then informed by a well known MP (now ex MP) that if I wanted to succeed in politics I needed to marry someone rich with influence. Disappointed didn’t begin to explain how I felt at the end of that week. The only person who was remotely in touch was his PA (a woman).

    • 30 March, 2011 / 9:49 am

      *resists urge to judge*

      I’ve often thought about being an MP too, but like you I’ve been put off by the whole ‘Old Boys Club’ aspect of it – one of the reasons there are so few women in politics I’m sure. Your story is really shocking though – I really want to not believe it’s like that, that they could be so out of touch, but they really are aren’t they? So depressing.

  3. 29 March, 2011 / 10:38 am

    To never give a straight answer, to think only in black and white, to be self-serving, to put ideology before common sense, to ignore the voter, to keep secrets and exploit privileges – is this what women want from a job?

    I should leave it to the mostly male plonkers who are already ruining the country for their own ends. And if your plan might be to change things, just look at the women who are and have been involved, what have they done?

    Probably our best hope is that, as Beth intimates, behind the flawed men are some sensible women.

    i will also be voting AV – it may not be the best solution, but it may lead to further and better changes down the line. If we don’t change now however, the opprotunity will be lost, probably for several generations.

    • 30 March, 2011 / 9:51 am

      No, I’m sure that isn’t what anyone would really want from a job Barry, but isn’t that the problem? The whole system is build on these bizarre principles, that put so many people off getting involved or taking an interest in politics at all, because they think it’s all corrupt and a waste of time, because you’ll never change it? Surely you always HAVE to believe you can change things, even if it seems impossible?

  4. 29 March, 2011 / 7:51 pm

    Well the country is in a mess isn’t it?! It makes you wonder really; would it be in such a mess if more women were if the seats, because it definitely think it would improve this country ten-fold.

    CJ xx

  5. 29 March, 2011 / 9:17 pm

    Bloody fantastic post, really thought provoking. I’m definitely checking out your links, thank you :)

  6. 29 March, 2011 / 10:21 pm

    Sadly I can’t see the AV system making any difference. The method we use in Scotland (additional member PR) results in the percentage of seats pretty much matching the percentage of votes a party got. MSPs win constituencies but we also have the additional list from which parties select a number of MSPs based on the votes they received. And 35% of our MSPs are women.

    I’m torn with the AV thing – it’s better than FPTP, but frankly…. not much.

  7. 30 March, 2011 / 8:58 am

    While this is depressing, maybe it shows most women aren’t stupid enough to be a politician? ; )

  8. 30 March, 2011 / 9:44 am

    Well written Lisa. Good common sense. As Nikkii says though even with a truer system of PR the % of women is only 35%, BUT that is an improvement. AV will not make that much change to the number of women I fear, though I HOPE it will. BUT once we have AV I feel sure people will clamour for a better still proporional system. AV will only make EACH MP be elected fairly in the constituency, but have little effect on party proportions.
    But i like what you wrote. good for you

  9. 30 March, 2011 / 10:13 am

    Yes, I think women probably would do a better job.

    AV not perfect but I also believe/hope it will lead to better, down the line.

    The crux of the problem: disengagement because you do not believe you can change things. One of my friends says this all the time, but I refuse to believe him. We can and must. Remember, baby steps…

  10. 30 March, 2011 / 3:16 pm

    The trouble with politics is that anyone wanting to be a politician should probably be bared from doing the job

    And that the house of Commons isn’t exactly set up to be family friendly

    But still a grim statistic, especially when shown against Sweden

    Again not sure AV will actually make it any better

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