No merit in quota

Compulsory all-women candidate lists (your report, 11 January) infringe a fundamental democratic principle: the right of any citizen, regardless of gender, race or creed, to stand for public office.

How is the "quota" for any party to be decided? On the number of women in the country or the number in party membership? If the purpose of this dictatorial manoeuvre is to increase female parliamentary membership, all parties would need to have the same all-women constituencies.

What if no female candidate applied? Suppose none was found to be satisfactory; isn't quality what matters? What is to stop any party assigning women to seats unlikely to be won?

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As to the outrageous suggestion of shortlists barred to white candidates,those floating this idea are the same people supposedly dedicated to an inclusive society, yet this would create division and social tension.


Ormiston Road

Tranent, East Lothian

If Gordon Brown wishes to pursue his love of social engineering by manipulating political candidate shortlists in favour of women and ethnic minorities, he should pay attention to the chronic under-representation of the many Chinese who live and work in Britain.

They seem to have no voice at all, while making a large contribution to Britain by means of their hard work and charming manners.

But perhaps they have taken a good look at our crass political system and have made their own choice in the matter.


Gamekeepers Road

Kinnesswood, Kinross