Letter: You don't need a woman MP to represent women's interests

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The Independent Online
From Dr Gary Slapper

Sir: After the Labour party's practice of selecting parliamentary candidates from women-only lists was declared unlawful, many senior Labour figures, including the general secretary, Tom Sawyer, reconfirmed their commitment to that form of discrimination. Meanwhile, Tony Blair was telling Singaporean businessmen that he favoured a society where "advancement was by merit" ("Blair is lauded by Far East hard man", 10 January).

It is rare for both sides of an argument to be objectionable, but in this debate (about meritocracy), the Labour Party has achieved such a result. Those who favour women-only candidate lists are being patronising to females and promoting resentment against the successful candidates from such lists. None the less, Mr Blair's idea of a meritocracy within the market system is as misguided as Margaret Thatcher's "property-owning democracy".

While some will advance on their merits according to market dictates, others will not "advance" in Mr Blair's commercial utopia - a society that would be as divided as today's but with the divide between rich and poor "stakeholders" based on merit alone.

Yours faithfully,

Gary Slapper

The Law School

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

10 January

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