Posts Tagged ‘coalition government’

Prime Minister Miliband’s first U-turn: scrapping gender equality around the cabinet table

20/04/2015, 06:48:36 PM

Any coalition deal with the other parties that involves sharing cabinet positions, will inevitably mean the percentage of women sat around Labour’s top table will get smaller.

This is not due to backsliding on Ed Miliband’s part. Far from it. He promised during the Labour leadership contest – and has consistently repeated it since then – that he will deliver 50:50 gender equality around the cabinet table (and has more or less done so with his current shadow team).

It is simply that the stock of female ministers from the other potential coalition partners is extremely low. And despite watery protestations to the contrary, all the current polls indicate that Miliband will need either the SNP or the Lib Dems to join his administration in order to form a stable working majority in the Commons.

Only one of the SNP’s six MPs in the last parliament was female and, although led by a woman, just 36 per cent of their parliamentary candidates are women. (And given Nicola Sturgeon is rather preoccupied serving as Scotland’s First Minister, she would not, presumably, be available herself?)

Similarly, just seven of the Lib Dems’ 57 MPs in the last parliament were women and five of them are likely to lose their seats (although, to be fair, it’s perfectly possible this number will be replenished with newcomers).

But from day one of the next government, there will be precious few women MPs from among either the Lib Dems or SNP experienced enough in frontline politics to be considered for cabinet positions.

The only choice open to Miliband, if he’s serious about honouring his pledge, is to appoint a greater number of Labour women to meet the shortfall. This, in turn, means appointing fewer men who currently sit in the shadow cabinet.

The in-tray of an incoming prime minister is deep enough without creating that kind of explosive row and in the process generating an officer-class of senior, overlooked men who have slogged away on the frontbench for years only to have their careers ripped away from them.

No, look instead for Miliband to pepper the junior and middle ministerial ranks with women as cover for the Labour-led government’s first U-turn.

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Let’s not risk coalition part II

10/01/2013, 03:33:05 PM

by Kevin Meagher

In 2015 I want to see a majority Labour government. I certainly don’t want to see a majority Conservative government. I can live with a Labour-Lib Dem government.

This, in essence, needs to be the calculation as Labour approaches the next general election. Opening up a dialogue with the Lib Dems around themes of mutual attraction is an act of utility; a contingency in the event of another inconclusive election result.

After all, a valedictory Tony Blair warned that the age of tribal politics is behind us with “rampant cross-dressing” increasingly the norm. There is plainly more that unites Labour and Lib Dems around issues like Europe and House of Lords reform than divides the two parties, so why not look for areas of overlap?

Especially when it has the potential to drive a wedge between the coalition partners. So an insurance policy for the future and a means of peeling the Lib Dems away from their cruel suitors in the bargain. What’s not to support here?

The alternative – sitting and waiting for the outcome of 2015 – risks repeating the mistake of 2010, as Labour’s team went naked into the chamber to negotiate with Clegg’s people, before a better-prepared Cameron swept in with his “big, open and comprehensive offer”. The rest is history.

Surely we aren’t going to risk a repeat?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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