Daft shortlists

With all respect to Lesley Riddoch (Perspective, 23 March), I must take issue with her scarcely veiled suggestion that it is only elderly male dinosaurs – like myself perhaps? – who could possibly oppose the SNP leadership’s proposal to impose mandatory women-only shortlists for parliamentary candidate selection at its forthcoming spring conference.

While I will not be a delegate I would applaud the courage of the party’s Avondale Branch in proposing an amendment that would reverse this essentially undemocratic commitment – in opposition to the current “politically correct” zeitgeist.

For just as it would be absurd to maintain that an aspiring female politician could not adequately represent her male constituents, it would be equally absurd to maintain that an aspiring male politician could not adequately represent his female constituents; but this is precisely the message which mandatory short-lists composed of either gender undoubtedly convey.

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Moreover, I understand that one of the supporting arguments the Avondale Branch is putting up in support of their amendment is the perfectly valid observation that women “for whatever reasons” do not put themselves forward for these positions to the same extent as men do – and this is true in all political parties.

What is Lesley Riddoch’s solution to this problem? Is she prepared to cajole women into putting themselves up for selection against their arguably “better judgment”?

I predict that even if the leadership’s unamended resolution is passed there will not be a sudden rush of new female applicants for parliamentary or even local council candidacies.

The SNP – like the Labour Party before it – will continue to experience difficulties in striving to achieve an exact gender balance in its political representation, since at the end of the day it’s the electorate who will always have the last word.

It’s called democracy, and political parties should stop trying to manipulate the electoral system to suit their own ideological preferences on the untested assumption that these are already shared by the wider electorate.


Clarence Drive