Letter: The right way forward for women

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The Independent Online
Sir: Clare Short is presumptuous in believing that any action taken by the Labour Party could wipe out a generation of male Labour politicians ('Labour parity vow may put men on 'back seat' ', 21 April). Altruism cannot be relied upon. They will simply go elsewhere.

Ms Short proposes distorting a selection process, intended to 'hire' the best individual to do a highly specialised task, simply in order to promote greater representation of a particular attribute (being a woman, in this case) quite unrelated to the performance of the job in hand - that is, representing a particular community of individuals and sustaining a government with certain values. Any organisation has not only the right but the obligation to choose, say, a competent man over an incompetent woman - or vice versa - as an act of justice to all its other members.

Radical reforms are necessary and it is possible to increase the participation of women without resorting to procedural gerrymandering - through practical reforms to the franchise and in general education, through political education and changes in the structure and function of representative democracy, as well as through the positive encouragement of women's engagement in the political process.

Yours sincerely,

TIM PENDRY

London, N5

21 April

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