The 15th of June 2018 saw a depressing new low for British politics with the election of Labour’s Janet Daby in Lewisham East. Daby made history as the first ever candidate selected by not only sexist means but racist ones too, with Labour imposing an all women and all BAME short-list, thus denying not just every single man, but even white women from contesting the seat for Labour too. Bizarrely, the hustings events for the election were protested by a large mob protesting against supposed “racism” by UKIP, yet the blatant and totally undeniable racism and sexism of Labour in their selection of candidate for that very seat went totally ignored.
Misandrist all-women short-lists were first used 21 years ago by Labour at the 1997 election. Thankfully we had a brief respite from them in 2001 due to the small matter of the short-lists being recognised as illegal sex discrimination. However, Labour were still in power and changed the law to make their sexism legal (though it’s of note that the law was not retrospective, meaning those selected via this method in 1997 still got into Parliament by illegal and sexist means)
Most people instinctively know that selecting people on their basis of their sex (or race) is a terrible thing and will inevitably lower the quality of the candidates available and thus lead to lower quality MPs getting into Parliament (and ultimately damage the country). For one thing, by eliminating men from being possible candidates for selection one is cutting down the pool of talent not just by 50%, but considerably more so given that more men look to stand for election than women. Furthermore, the most able and most morally sound female and ethnic minority candidates oppose racism and sexism on principle, and thus such seats would surely be likely to attract sub par candidates who lack ethics and are shameless enough to sit in Parliament because of their gender rather than because they’re good enough to be there.
While common sense dictates the above is inevitable, what does the evidence tell us about those from all women short-lists compared to people who got into Parliament on merit? At HEqual we’re not aware of any studies looking at the issue, so we’ve attempted to analyse the situation based on the outcomes from one of the biggest scandals in UK politics, the 2008 Parliamentary expenses scandal.
While headlines about the 2008 scandal often focused on bizarre and frivolous expenses claims, the real story was about politicians committing criminal acts such as fraud, for example producing fake invoices which ultimately lead to legal action against those responsible and prison sentences for a number of MPs.
Such cases of fraud took place over a number of years and typically involved an MP “flipping” their designated main residence in order to make additional expenses claims. Thus, in analysing those involved it’s logical to omit the newly elected MPs because they simply wouldn’t have had time to commit significant fraud – all the offences were committed by MPs who’d served at least one full term.
This therefore leaves us with the 35 MPs selected via all women short-lists in 1997 out of approximately 700 MPs who served during the period in question. A total of six MPs were convicted of crimes in relation to the scandal, all from the Labour Party. They were: David Chaytor, Jim Devine, Eric Illsley, Denis MacShane, Margaret Moran, and Elliot Morley.
Given that Moran, a feminist, was one of the 5% of MPs selected via a sexist all women short-list, this indicates a more than three-fold over representation of AWS MPs in those convicted of fraud. However, an even more significant picture emerges when we consider the scale of the offences. The following shows the amounts of fraud of each MP:
- David Chaytor: £18,350
- Jim Devine: £8,385
- Eric Illsley: £14,000
- Denis MacShane: £12,900
- Margaret Moran: £53,000+
- Elliot Morley: £31,333
From the above, we can see that the amount of fraud by those elected via all-women short-lists totalled almost as much as four of the five other MPs convicted of similar crimes and represented more than 38% of the total fraud by MPs during the expenses scandal, making the all-women short-lists MPs almost 12 times or 1100% more corrupt than those in Parliament on merit (and it’s not as if those there on merit are particularly honest either).
Some may feel it’s a little unfair to uses Moran’s crimes to criticise all women shortlists, but ultimately the total sample size for the study is some 700 MPs, and it’s undeniable that by far the very worst of the worst out of that group was selected via sexist means. Whilst the very worst of the other offenders were “flipping” the designation of their main residence between two properties, Moran had in fact moved onto claiming on a third house, a property neither near Parliament nor her constituency. The date of course doesn’t mean every AWS MP is automatically sub-standard, it just emphasises the fact that such sexism reduces the quality of politicians overall and inevitably leads to an increase in particularly terrible individuals getting into Parliament overall.
Looking at the wider expenses scandal, it’s not as if Moran was an anomaly. Notable names involved included Ann Keen and Jacqui Smith, both again selected because of their gender and part of the group of 35 who got their places in Parliament via illegal sex discrimination. While neither were prosecuted or convicted of any crimes, the latter even claimed for pornography on her claims and was forced to apologise to Parliament for her actions. Keen on the other hand was dubbed “Mrs Expenses” by the media. She had the highest expense claims out of any MP (excluding travel) at the times of the scandal, was ordered to replay wrongly claimed monies and misused other expenses too. Fittingly, both lost their seats at least in part due to the controversy, though Smith was at least honest enough to not being capable of doing her job as Home Secretary.
If anything, more recent AWS MPs seem just as poor and arguably even nastier than the first 35. Those selected this way include racist Naz Shah, semi-literate hypocrite Angela Rayner and of course the now world-famous misandrist and serial liar Jess Phillips.
Looking at the expenses scandal data overall, it shows that the Labour Party MPs are particularly corrupt and thus it makes sense it would use corrupt practices such as All Women Short-lists. It’s also worth noting the pattern in behaviour of different female MPs, with those in Parliament on merit being far less corrupt than those getting their via sexism. Fittingly, and unlike every other single male politician convicted of fraud, Moran avoided prison for her crimes, despite being by far the worst offender.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that many of the very worst politicians in Parliament got their via sexist all women shortlists, and that being the case, those selected by a combination of sexism compounded by blatant racism will surely be at least as bad and quite possibly lower the bar further still.
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