I would like to get the cliché of “positive discrimination is still discrimination” out of the road early, but it's true. It's only positive discrimination if it's in your favour. Otherwise, there's nothing positive about it, for you.
Kezia Dugdale and Yapping Yousuf are both in favour of positive discrimination in the form of all women shortlisting. SNP Tactical Voting and J. Arthur MacNumpty are against it. Harriett Harmann is becoming legendary for her alternative approach to sensible policies and I have written briefly on this topic before in relation to Miss Harmann but owing to the current debate, I feel I have to give a detailed view.
No matter who you are, whatever race, religion, sex, sexuality, it is not right to deliberately restrict someone on this basis – in fact, it's against the law under equalities legislation.
If I were to try to stand in any of Labour's all women shortlist constituencies, I would not be allowed to do so and would be told, in a tremendously proud, 'aren't I being so PC', smug way, that this is acceptable as it is positive discrimination, and the Yousufs and Harmanns of this world would be perfectly ok with this.
If I owned a printing shop and a Pakistani man/woman applied, and despite being the best person for the job, I told him/her that “You cannot have the job because you're Pakistani” and claimed I was just enacting a policy of positive discrimination, I would be charged by the authorities and pilloried by the same Labour members who championed the day I couldn't stand as a Labour candidate. This is a double standard that cannot be accepted.
My biggest fear would be that any racist/bigot business owner (who might like to use phrases such as the title of this post) could just turn around and claim that he/she isn't giving a job to someone from any particular grouping because it's positive discrimination and there'd be nothing to stop them as Labour will have set a precedent. They may not use the phrase in the title of this post, but someone who felt like this could now have a valid means of acting on his/her views in whatever racist way they wished to do so. Adding the word 'positive' isn't always a good thing...HIV positive isn't the good version of HIV.
(“Clean coal is an industry myth...like saying healthy botulism... child-safe plutonium” C.J. Cregg - West Wing)
We cannot make discrimination, in any form, an acceptable piece of our culture. There is no claim from Yousuf or Kezia that this would make for a better qualified parliament – more diverse I agree, but not necessarily better qualified. I don't give a shit what size, colour, or shaped genitalia my local MP has, I just want to know that he/she was the best one standing and that this conclusion was agreed across the whole community. To propose AWSs implies that either the local parties are sexist (in which case, take a look at yourselves and don't impose the implications – AWS's – on the electorate) or that the country is - and if this is the case, then unless we have women only constituencies, the problem wouldn't be resolved.
No, the truth behind this ridiculous policy lies in both Kezia and Yousuf's posts.
“We desperately need to boost our local parties” - Yapping Yousuf
“Nobody in this debate seems capable of addressing the fundamental issue which is that of the decline in the membership of political parties” Kezia Dugdale
You expect me (and the 90%+ of people who are choosing not to be members of political parties) to accept a limit to my rights so that you guys can increase your membership? NO! We do not need political parties – they are not an essential part of the British parliamentary system and governance of the nation. We need a parliament. We need a Prime Minister. That's it.
“The fundamental issue”? How, oh how is depleting membership responsible for not enough women being in parliament? That is by far the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in any political commentary. Ten years ago, their were significantly more people paid up as members of political parties, but we were no closer then to a 50/50 split of Mps then.
You've tried introducing state funding, which I'm against, but now you want to make me (unemployed) even less employable purely because I'm a man, so that the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Lib Dems etc can increase their membership and in turn their revenues so that we can give people like you (party hacks with a passionate hobby) something to do on a weekend? No, simply this is not right and am amazed you think this is an acceptable argument in favour. This, by such a long, long way, goes against the principals of democracy and anyone who is in favour of all women shortlists (and any other form of positive discrimination) is doing it to better their own chances, not to better the greater good.
(I apologise for any offence caused by the original title of this post. As I said in the orginal draft of this post, these were certainly not my views but I used this 'shock-tactic' phrase as a means of highlighting potential drawbacks to what is discussed in this post - the title has now been amended - my thanks to he/she who emailed with a change request and a more appropriate title).