ANOTHER VIEW; Women-only lists in court

Share
Related Topics
I have been asked, why take the Labour Party to an industrial tribunal to challenge women-only short lists? Aren't you happy now that Tony Blair has announced that Labour is to abandon the policy after the general election?

On the contrary, I am dismayed. What he has in effect announced is that, in two years' time, Labour will stop discriminating against men - why wait two years? It is wrong and it should be stopped now.

The new Labour Party constitution commits the party to promoting equality of opportunity. Despite these fine words, the actions of the party are totally inconsistent with that aim. In two constituencies, women-only parliamentary short lists apply and men cannot be considered. This is clear sex discrimination in that, but for the fact that I am a man, I could become a Labour Member of Parliament for either of those constituencies.

Indeed, to be a Labour MP, I need the recognition and approval of the party. In these circumstances, the only options I have are to accept this discrimination or try and challenge it through the courts. The Labour Party intends to defend the proceedings, not on the grounds of denying the discrimination, but because an industrial tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the case, since a candidate is not employed. Thus the case will be fought on whether or not the Labour Party is considered to be a qualifying body as per the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and also in relation to whether UK law is consistent with the EC Equal Treatment Directive 76/207.

If my claim is successful, it will not just embarrass the Labour leadership, but could also herald new opportunities for women. Indeed, it will mean that all political parties will need to re-examine their selection procedures.

What Labour and other political parties need is a high-level Equal Opportunities Commission or Committee (consisting of discrimination law experts) with ongoing powers to investigate any allegations of sex or race discrimination in selection procedures. Furthermore, this body should be given the responsibility for drawing up guidelines of positive action to develop opportunities for women and ethnic candidates.

For many years, discrimination has existed in the selection of candidates at both parliamentary and local government levels. This discrimination, usually indirect, has meant that white men in grey suits are responsible for the government of Britain. With the one notable exception of Mrs Thatcher, women are marginal in relation to positions of power. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was introduced by a Labour government in order to provide legal redress where discrimination exists. It is ironic that a man, taking the Labour Party to an industrial tribunal, could further develop equality of opportunity in the House of Commons.

The writer has been barred twice from applying to be a Labour candidate.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits