The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Reflecting Britain
by Peter

I haven't responded to this before, but reading Mark Valladares on the Ethnic Minority Election Task Force made me think that I should.

To start with the basics: we should have more women MPs and we should have ethnic minoirty MPs and we should be working to make sure this happens. We are making progress on getting more women MPs - not enough -yet the mechanisms of getting more women to put their names forward seem good to me. Having a much bigger pool of ethnic minoirty candidates should be high priority moving towards 2008 or 2009. (Brown will cut and run, won't he? perhaps it will be earlier).

Are these the only ways we should reflect Britain? No. I think we need to retain a number of candidates with strong regional roots. I don't say that all candidates should be local - but we need our Penhaligon's (and voters need them too).

And then there is education. There is a disturbing trend for increased credentialism in the UK and for the political elite to fill up with public school, oxbridge types. This is epitomised by Blair (Fettes and Oxford) facing Cameron (Eton and Oxford) at PMQs (though not today). We need to be vigilant to ensure that while decrying decreasing social mobility in the country we are not reinforcing it within the party. By all means let us have candidates from this sort of background - but let us think about what this means in terms of Reflecting Britain.

On how to achieve these ends, well I agree with the argument Mark develops

I really ought to declare an interest here. I serve on the English Candidates Committee of the Party, on the London Region Candidates Committee and have been a Returning Officer for our internal selections since 1989. I fundamentally belief that restricted shortlists are illiberal and contrary to the notion of selection on merit and nothing else. I expect Simon to be in favour of quotas - he has form after all (remember Blackpool?) - but to see Chris pander to this was very disappointing. Ming, on the other hand, took the line that persuasion and leadership would be more effective and essayed a liberal philosophy that I was impressed by.

We need to reflect Britain, and we need to adopt liberal solutions to achieving that end. Labour have gone for the option of parachuting in a woman from London - and it does not work.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 11:22 am  
  • At 15 February, 2006 12:23, Blogger Apollo Project said…

    Peter - I would qualify your statement that there are too many public school / oxford types in politics.

    Tabman (state school and Cambridge :-) )

  • At 15 February, 2006 12:45, Blogger Peter Pigeon said…


    I worry about the trend - although I don't want to hold people back either.

    My point is simply that reflecting Britain implies thinking about this issue too.

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