"Until we're represented by men and women in the country, regardless of race or creed, we won't be half the party we could be," he said in a speech on candidate selection in Leeds.Of course he does. In order to do it, he's going to take control from the centre and govern his pary by diktat. Hmm, hasn't that been tried before?
He said his "positive action" plan was not about "crazed political correctness", but would guarantee more women and ethnic minorities in winnable seats.
There's a simple way to get more women in Parliament Dave. It'll get more minorities in there as well. And, added bonus here, it will give the voters real control over who they vote for and who represents them. What's this Mat, I hear you say, what's this simple system?
Change the electoral system. (Oh, c'mon, who didn't see that one coming?).
So, why does this help. Well, until Labour changed the system in 1947, not all constituencies were single member as they are now. Barbara Castle who, whatever you think of her politics, was certainly a very capable and succesful politician, said that she was convinced the main reason she was selected as a candidate in Blackburn was because they already had a decent male candidate, and thus the selectors didn't object as strongly to having a female as a candidate as well. There is, unfortunately, an ingrained picture of what an MP should look like. White, middle class male in a suit, respectable family man. y'know, like that nice Mr Blair, or even that even nicer Mr Cameron.
Across the board single member constituencies, a reasonably new innovation in British politics given its long history, have meant that selectors, consciously or unconsciously, choose candidates close to their ideal. Voters are denied choices within the party they prefer, and a large number of politicians are thus identikit men in suits. Not all, of course, but the overwhelming majority. I object to all female shortlists. I object to centralised planning. I object to party diktat and enforced "reform".
However, I do believe that Parliament is unrepresentative, and the system denies voters real choice. Ireland has a much better electoral system, it's shared by Australia, gives the voters real power and allows better representation of all groups and opinions. I dislike the centralising that Simple Majority creates, I dislike the standardisation that Simple Majority creates. I strongly dislike 'safe' seats, overwhelming majorities, differential turnout, party 'machines' deciding who represents us.
Go on Dave, you know you want to admit it. Simple Majority is failing your party, it's failing Parliament, it's failing the country. Adopt Single Transferable Vote with multi-member constiuencies. It'll solve all your problems, without the need to issue diktats, and give the voters real choice. You do want that, really, don't you? Give the voters a genuine choice?
Hmm... time will tell.