FEBRUARY 10th 2008
Once again we have weird ideas about Parliamentary Representation being booted around by those whose experience is such that one expect a bit more sense. This morning we had Gwynneth Dunwoody and Theresa May, UK MPs, discussing how the proportion of women in Parliament did not reflect the proportionality of women in the population as a whole. Dunwoody went as far as to to say that Parliament should have women MPs that reflect the electorate - "some bright, some not so bright".

What are these people talking about? Why should Parliament reflect the country? MPs must REPRESENT their constituents by presenting their legitimate requirements, wishes and grievances to Parliament. This is done by being accessible to their constituents, listening to what they have to say, visiting the places and institutions, businesses and facilities that make up the environment in question, and finally bringing all matters that need be to the attention of the executive and the legislature. Their ability to do the latter is dependent on their skill, understanding and experience. Their ability to do the former is indeed dependent on a rapport with the constituents, but that does not depend on having any proportion of criminals, fraudsters, burglars, paedophiles or opportunistic chancers as MPs.

We actually expect higher standards of our MPs than we do of others, and that includes intelligence. In so far as there are matters that especially concern women, these are either national or confined to a particular area. If they are national, then it does not require a woman MP in any particular constituency, it requires women MPs in Parliament and women involved at all levels in society in the nation. They are. If the issues arise in a particular area, it is not necessary that there is a female or male MP, it requires only that their be women involved in the political party and and local administration that supports and surround the MP.

It would not matter if there were as many or more women MPs than men, more black MPs that white, more old than young, just as long as there are some of each and there is free and fair access and debate. We are assured that there is these days, especially with the excellent coverage of the House of Commons, the Lords and Select Committees on TV, which the public can watch and expert analysts in the free media can pass comment on. There is no suggestion that at present women's needs are being ignored or downplayed because there are more men than women in Parliament. It is quite likely that the reverse has been the case in recent years and more women MPs would not improve for emotional rather than rational reasons, the lot of female constituents

Attempting to validate democracy on emotional rather than rational criteria is the bane of our times in enough countries without adding the UK to the list..