Since the mayhem of last week’s general election, I’ve been looking at some of the stories related to female politicians.
The first obvious good news story is that a record breaking number of women were elected 208 out of a total of 650 MPs, which makes 32% female representation, above that magic 30% so often quoted as the point of real difference. As we’ve also witnessed in Guernsey’s election in 2016, women tend to get appointed in proportion to the number that stand. In the UK 965 women stood for election, out of a total 3304 candidates, or 29%, which means the female candidates actually did better than we could have expected.
With Jersey’s election coming up next year, it will be important to look at how more women can be encouraged to put themselves forward for election, if 50% of those standing were women, then it is highly possible so would be 50% of those elected!
But if you spend anytime on social media looking at the stories surrounding female politicians, it doesn’t take long to ask – who would actually want to put themselves through the ordeal of being a female politician?
Whatever my personal political leanings, I really believe that the nearer to 50% female representation we get from any party, the better the overall direction of political travel will be. But you may have seen this story about Diane Abbott on Facebook? The blogger makes some really eloquent points and it’s worth a read. Whether her poor performance that day was down to Type 2 diabetes or not, it is still absolutely not acceptable for the amount of subsequent abuse she received online, who would be resilient enough to cope with that? Or this story about JK Rowling’s twitter response to abuse being levelled at Teresa May (I needed to read all 14 tweets for the story to make sense, not being au fait with cartoon frogs!) Or the fact that media outlets do not seem to be able to even mention Ruth Davidson without all so mentioning she happens to be a lesbian! Yes it might be relevant to stories about the DUP and gay rights but not everyone!
We will soon hit the 100 year anniversary of the election of Nancy Astor, the first female MP to sit in the House of Commons. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that 100 years on, we could aspire to being part of a world where women willing to put themselves forward for the rigours of high office, were afforded the due respect those positions command. Instead, as things stand, I just bow my head in respect to all 965 of them, who were brave enough to stand up for what they believe in despite knowing the levels of personal abuse they would get on social media. Well done to everyone.