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8:36am on Monday, 11th January, 2010:



There's a second batch of sex discrimination distastefulness today, with the proposal that political parties should be forced by law to adopt quotas for parliamentary seats, recommended by a committee set up by the professionally female Harriet Harman.

Personally, I'm all for having MPs that reflect the demographic make-up of the population (a few more who lived in council houses when they were kids wouldn't go amiss, either). However, I am deeply against legislating for it. You should be able to set up a political party on any platform you like, and forcing parties to obey quotas would spoil that: it amounts to the banning of potential political parties you don't like. The next obvious step, for example, would be to force race quotas on parties, which would effectively ban the BNP. Much as I loathe the views of the BNP, I nevertheless feel they should be allowed to organise themselves about those views so long as they're not violent or aggressive about it.

If a party based on some religion that had strict views on what women could and couldn't do wanted to field all-male lists, OK, well why not let them? The point of parliament is to reflect people's views, not reflect people's demographic background. If you wanted to do that, the place to do it would be the House of Lords, not the House of Commons.

I'm 50, I'm allowed to be cantankerous now.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).