Putting more women in politics may just be the Prime Minister’s best legacy

I DOUBT so much as an eyebrow has been raised by anyone at news that, after the latest reshuffle, out of 22 politicians in the Cabinet, 18 are men.

Because . . . ’twas ever thus — right? Politics is a man’s world and, to many, women still feel like token visitors.

Theresa May should have more women in Government

Even when Tony Blair famously had 101 “babes” in his 1997 intake of MPs, only four of his Cabinet appointments were female.

Here we are, 20 years later, and yes, we have a female Prime Minister but there is still a prevailing view that the Cabinet, in particular, belongs to men.

Clearly there’s something profoundly wrong with that equation.

Given that this country is made up, more or less equally, of men and women, things would undoubtedly be fairer, not to mention calmer, if more women were on board.

Handout – Getty
It is appalling that the PM only has four women out of 22 members in her Cabinet

Theresa May addresses the Commons following David Davis’s and Boris Johnson’s resignations from the Cabinet

So the big question is, why aren’t there?

Things are better than they were. Since the 2017 election there are 208 women in the Commons, up from 191 in 2015.

But there are still not enough and you don’t have to look far for reasons why that might be.

Most women are put off by the environment and the culture and wonder why on earth they would want to put themselves within a country mile of either.

PA:Press Association/PA Images
You would think a female Prime Minister would try and have more women in politics, writes Karren Brady

Take Prime Minister’s Question Time, which appears to be a bunch of overgrown public school boys booing, jeering and jostling with each other in their bid to establish who is top dog.

What woman in her right mind would choose to enter that fray?

Then there are the practicalities. This week, Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson was “cheated” in a crunch Brexit vote by the breaking of her pairing pact.

This is an arrangement where one MP agrees not to vote to cancel out the fact that another MP on the opposite side is unable to vote — in this case Swinson was at home with her three-week-old baby.

Handout – Getty
It’s easy to tell that Mrs May’s Cabinet is dominated by men as this picture from the crunch Chequers summit shows

The problem was, her pairing partner reneged on the deal and voted.

Then there are the hours, which can be difficult if you have a family. Any woman would need a very understanding partner and family to do the job.

Also, any MP is opening themselves up to the line of fire and a lot of personal criticism — which multiplies for female MPs.

Some have to deal with endless comments and speculation about their appearance, as well as threats of rape and death on a regular basis. Just this week a man was arrested over abusive Facebook posts aimed at various female MPs.

Theresa May mocks Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn telling him to ‘listen’ to her answers in furious row over Brexit at PMQs

If it’s true voters are biased against women, any female has to be ten times as talented, determined and tenacious to get the job in the first place.

It’s no wonder women are put off entering politics.

But if we want true equality then more women need to go into Westminster and the culture needs to change.

That is why I support the campaign group Women To Win and will be taking part in an event called The Voice Of Women In Politics.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.