Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Devolution's lack of diversity:

From the Guardian:
Despite being set up to empower and involve the people of Scotland and Wales, both their devolved legislatures have been slow to include the countries' ethnic minorities. On this count at least, they have been arguably weaker than Westminster.
On the "diversity" question generally, both institutes are struggling.
Some figures to back up that assertion-

1. There are 170,000 people from an Asian, black or mixed race background among the Scottish electorate, 4% of the Scottish population but Holyrood has only ever had one non-white MSP elected.
2. Wales has an overall minority ethnic population of  3% of the population, yet it's first minority ethnic member was elected only in 2007.
3. In Scotland and Wales, gay rights groups believe the lesbian, gay and bisexual population (estimated to be 6% of the general population) is still "greatly under-represented in frontline politics".
4. It is predicted that  the number of women elected to Holyrood and the Welsh assembly on 5 May will be the lowest on record, Guardian has found less than 30% of the major parties' candidates will be women.

Almost goes without saying that the white, middle-aged, middle-class gentlemen's club that is Stormont is worse on all 3 counts- one ethnic minority, zero openly gay and a grand total  of 14 female MLAs out of a total of 108.
Not very impressive figures at all.


The Aberdonian said...

Did you mention that Scotland has a (and probably the first) openly bi-sexual party leader in the UK - Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens.

Apart from Harvie, there were two Liberal Democrat MSPs in same sex partnerships in the last parliament.

And of course behind the scenes Salmond's chief advisor Stephen Noon is homosexual and indeed a martyr. He was sacked by the Catholic Church where he worked as a press officer for coming out.

And of course a man widely tipped to have been a future MSP and even First Minister Steven Purcell, the former Glasgow City leader until his downfall last year.

I agree about the lack of Asian MSPs not being ideal. This was flagged up in the first two parliaments. However there have been exotic MSPs including Linda Fabiani, the Scottish-Italian former minister Linda Fabiani and there was even a former Scottish-Ukrainian MSP (whose father was in the Ukrainian SS but never mind).

And of course when it comes to the women, has not three out of the four main parties had women leaders. Goldie, Alexander and whilst Salmond was leader but not in Holyrood, Sturgeon at Holyrood. How many UK parties have had women leaders. 1 out of 3.

O'Neill said...

Well... yes, but that makes 3 gay Scottish reps and having three female leaders it doesn't increase the total number of women MSPs either.

TOPRICE.IE said...

So women should start doing something if they want to have some equal rights...

O'Neill said...


I would be against "forced" candidature processes guaranteeing places for minorities and women.

However, for any democratic party to be worthy of the name, they should be welcome every individual to join irrespective of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation.
That being the case then, by the law of averages, the respective assemblies would then start, eventually, to be more representative of the demographics of the population at large.

To be fair (and I thought Aberdonian might have mentioned this;)) Plaid Cymru and the SNP do apparently go out of their way to facilitate "non-traditional" members but they are, as evidenced by the figures, appear to be the exception amongst UK parties.

Wildgoose said...

I am completely opposed to any kind of quotas - nobody can help their sex, sexuality or the skin colour that they are born with - including white male heterosexuals like myself!

Having said that, I have long thought it would be a good idea to merge neighbouring constituencies so that each returns 2 members. Then give every elector the chance to vote for one man and one woman to represent them. An instant 50% balance between the sexes without any artificial and divisive quotas and lists.