It’s something that, in my experience, you don’t really notice until you notice it. The sea of white men that monopolise most industries. The "default man", as Grayson Perry so elegantly summed up. The straight, white middle class man, who, on first sight, make up the core of our country.
You only have to spend about 10 seconds watching Prime Minister’s Questions before flopping into a puddle of uninspired and unrepresented mush on the floor, as you realise just how overrun by white, straight, middle and upper class men our political system is.
Today the data journalism site Ampp3d released an interactive map of the UK, showing which constituencies across the country have only ever elected white male MPs. The constituencies which had only elected the "default man", are coloured in red.
According to Ampp3d, out of the 650 constituencies that make up our "fair" country, 320 have never elected a woman as their MP. Yet the census of 2011 tells us that there are 32.2m women in the UK out of a population of 63.2m. Women make up more than half of the UK, and yet we are sorely, underrepresented by our government.
If you’re a person of colour, the news gets even worse. The UK has had just 34 male MPs and 12 female MPs who belong to an ethnic minority. Yet according to the last Census, there are 8m Black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals living in Britain. This is just over 14 per cent of the total population, and roughly the same population as Scotland and Wales combined. It's been predicted that by 2050 our BME population will make up 30 per cent of the UK's total.
How can minorities expect the government to have their best interests at heart, when our government is not even close to being representative of the country's minority groups? As a woman, I do not trust issues that affect my gender, such as access to abortion, sexual health, maternity rights, rape laws and so many other issues, to be left in the hands of the default white male. And I can only imagine that many people of colour living in the UK feel the same.
Nigel Farage is attempting to bring UKIP to the forefront of politics, attempting to "shake up" parliament and provide a different political party from the norm. He claims he’s "not the same" as the other political leaders. Yet, when you take away the pint in one hand and the fag in the other, and strip away his carefully constructed image of the political "outsider", we’re left with Nigel Farage. A straight, white man, public school boy and city trader. Not so different from what we’re being offered in the way of David Cameron and Ed Miliband now is it?
MPs need to represent the people. The whole point of an MP is that their constituents can voice their concerns to their MP, and have their voices reiterated to Westminster. If woman and people of colour cannot see themselves being represented in Parliament, their voices are going to be lost under the childish buffoonery jeering that echoes the walls of Parliament.
There’s been a lot of talk, with the upcoming election and the rise of UKIP, that people are disillusioned with their government. Russell Brand is currently attempting to lead an anti-political rebellion. See – even our anti-political movement is led by a white man, worth millions and using his status to dictate to those who need the most help. Yet we are still surprised that young people and minorities are still disenchanted with politics. I bet for the most part most of us look at the Westminster line-up – and then the anti-Westminster line-up – and see nothing and no-one to which we can relate.
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