Monday, 23 February 2015

Political parties: how is your diversity?

A few weeks ago, the Independent ran an article on the gender balance of currently selected PPCs by major parties, with the Green Party having the highest proportion of female candidates (34%) and UKIP (unsurprisingly) having the lowest proportion of female candidates (11%). Given that only 23% of British MPs are women, this is important information to help Parliament become more representative of actual British society.

However, balance of gender in terms of PPCs is not the only measure of diversity-ratios of white: non-white candidates, LGBT vs. non-LGBT, and candidates with disabilities: candidates without disabilities also need to be considered in trying to represent as many sections of our society as possible. Also, with more candidates selected since then (and with the SNP and Plaid Cymru almost having full slates at this time), a re-evaluation is important anyway.

Gender balance-how many women are among currently selected PPCs?

Conservative: 133 out of 603 (22%)
Green: 168 out of 471 (36%)
Labour: 196 out of 618 (32%)
Liberal Democrats: 118 out of 483 (24.5%)
Plaid Cymru: 9 out of 39 (24%)
SNP: 20 out of 58 (34%)

UKIP: 54 out of 506 (10.7%)
TUSC (the largest minor party in terms of PPCs so far): 20 out of 78 (26%)

I can also tell you that in terms of racial diversity of PPCs, all five parties have made significant improvements, and I am pleased to say that the Green Party has more BME (black and minority ethnic i.e. non-white) PPCs than ever before. It must be said that England is considerably more ethnically diverse than the other nations in the UK (its non-white population was 14.4% at the last census)-the 2011 census showed the populace of Scotland and Wales as both 96% white, and the populace of Northern Ireland as 98.3% white, so it is not that surprising that the SNP and Plaid Cymru's list of PPCs are not so diverse. There are also more PPCs with disabilities and who self-define as LGBT than in 2010, and the Green Party also leads the way here.

I still believe that the first past the post system (80% of seats have little or no real chance of changing hands at this election), as well as the deposit requirement to stand in general elections, is a more significant barrier to women, people who define as BME, people who self-define as LGBT, people with disabilities etc. standing as general election candidates in reality. With proportional representation, it will be possible to ensure greater diversity among candidates standing in future elections, so that all of us can have our voice heard, no matter which sections of society we belong to.


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