Willie Rennie calls for all-women shortlists

Willie Rennie. Photo courtesy of the Liberal Democrats (CC BY-ND 2.0
The Press and Journal reports:

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is to seek to change his party’s rules to allow women-only shortlists for parliamentary selections.

Mr Rennie said he had “lost patience” with the current system and would take steps to address the gender imbalance within his party at its spring conference.

The party was criticised after its only female MSP, Alison McInnes, lost out to former MSP Mike Rumbles at the top of the party’s north-east Scotland regional list for next year’s Holyrood election…

He has pledged to lead a working group to look at measures to increase representation of Liberal Democrat women in Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels.

Other options that will be considered by the group include quota systems and making gender a part of the party’s electoral strategy.

Mr Rennie said encouragement and organisational support had been shown to be “insufficient to overcome the barriers to electing women”…

“Since the Scottish Parliament was created we have elected no more than two women at the four elections to Holyrood.”

On which subject, it’s worth remembering that choosing candidates isn’t just about the individual; it’s also about the team – and hence why the usual focus on ‘oh but we need the best person for the job’ misses the point that in teams the best person is the person who most effecitvely compliments the rest of the team with what they bring to their role.

The other point that often gets overlooked by people who make that comment about the ‘best person’ is that the rest of life and society is biased against women overall. So it’s an odd approach to lauding the need to have the ‘best person’ if you don’t also therefore think that steps are needed to remove that starting bias – as otherwise it’s not the best person, it’s the person served up with the help of wider bias.

UPDATE: Here are details of Willie Rennie’s plan.

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