It hasn’t got quite as bad as that, but we’re nearly there.
A preposterous body called the Women and Equalities Select Committee of the House of Commons has produced a report, apparently unanimously, recommending that an Act of Parliament should be passed making it an offence, punishable by a large fine, for any political party to field fewer (inevitably in these illiterate days the committee says “less”) than 45% of female candidates at general elections.
What is this committee? I have read its appalling report and can therefore tell you. It is made up of twelve MPs (ten women and two token men). There are Tory, Labour and SNP members, but no Lib Dems (they probably don’t have any women MPs). I have looked at all their profiles on Parliament’s web site. Let us just say, of the two men, that their photographs make them look incredibly weedy. This committee, devoted to equality, is definitely a committee for women, not men.
But that, of course, doesn’t matter (at least to those of us who think MPs should act in the interests of all their constituents, not just those of their own sex). The committee members are all MPs and therefore, one would assume, committed to parliamentary democracy. Oh, how wrong you are. They hate the idea that the people should have free choice on whom to elect to Parliament. The voters, they say (and golly how they despise them), are hopeless. Women make up roughly 50% of the population, but only 30% (though rising) of MPs are women. It follows, according to these educationally sub-normal committee members, that democracy should be rigged. The law should be changed to force all those frightfully stupid voters to elect more women.
I do understand that the committee has not, yet, gone so far as to say that voters should be punished for failing to elect women. For the present, it only wishes to punish political parties. It seems unaware that the major parties (perhaps not the Lib Dems – who have never been all that keen on democracy) leave the selection of candidates to constituency parties. But that, I suppose, is by the way. Even if the parties’ own constitutions allowed their central organisations to impose candidates on constituencies, how could any democrat ever say that candidates should be chosen by sex, rather than ability and suitability to the constituency? And could any true democrat ever say that Parliament, not electors, should decide what classes or types of people should be elected to the Commons?
The irony is that these immensely stupid committee members claim that their proposals to change the law so as to force electors to be allowed only limited choices are designed to correct something called a “democratic deficit”. I wonder what George Orwell would have made of this nonsense?
What next? I suppose someone will work out that the number of homosexuals in the House is either too high or too low, and steps will have to be taken to correct the figure. There is a great fashion for something called trans-gender at the moment. I bet there aren’t enough of them in the House. Heavy fines for all the political parties will plainly be required for failing to have enough trans-gender candidates. After sorting out sex and sexual proclivities, the Women and Equalities Committee will have, I assume, to move on to political opinions. Is the libertarian/authoritarian ratio right? Should there be more or fewer MPs in favour of strong Defence? And so it will go on. I don’t envy the members of the committee for having deprived the voters of the right to choose MPs. In a way, I admire them for taking the burden away from the electorate.
None of this means, of course, that women should not be encouraged to stand for Parliament. My guess is that they will reach, and exceed, the committee’s magic 45% figure without any change of the law. Maybe that won’t happen for a few years, but it will happen one day. What is more, when it happens, women MPs will almost certainly grasp the fact that they are there to represent their constituents, not their sex.