Deselecting women

Mark Devenport comments on Roy Beggs and Basil McCrea’s speeches yesterday, the latter of which pointed out that the DUP and Sinn Fein actually deselected sitting female MLAs for the 07 election.

  • BonarLaw

    Pathetic attempt to dodge the 100% pale,male and stale UUP representation at Stormont.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The UUP’s argument is that women should be selected for candidacy on merit and not through a quota.

    Fair enough. But doesn’t that mean that the UUP is admitting that it hasn’t got any women in the party worth putting forward?

  • oops

    Are you sure you want to be highlighting this debate? It might carry a little more weight if it didn’t come from a party which doesn’t have any female Assembly Members and didn’t deselect any because they didn’t have any to get rid of!

    Lets remember too – the UUP ran a grand total of ONE female candidate in the election….. Hardly a glowing endorsement of your selection process either. All parties have their failures, but some are just in a worse position than others to criticise.

    Basil McCrea also managed to break normal parliamentary protocol by having a pop at others and making controversial remarks in a maiden speech.

    All in all Michael and his mates still think it was a good day. Really does say something about how p*ss poor a state your party is.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Problems don’t solve themselves, and dont do so overnight. All parties have a problem with women putting themselves forward, the UUP simply finds itself worse off than the others in that particular regard. And it has to be admitted that the other parties have delt with the problem well, while we lag behind for now.

  • Porlock

    “…50% of people out there have no interest in politics, and the other 50% believe that they were conned over the past four or five weeks.”

    Nice of Bazza to admit that the UUP is clearly part of the con act—since, by definition, the “other 50%” includes people who voted for his party.

    “It does not matter who is selected because the vote is a vote for the party. It is therefore difficult to understand why the gender of candidates is important.”

    Yes indeed, another stirring argument in favour of more women candidates!

    As for his views on “selection on merit”!!!! One middle-aged woman in North Down as the sole female UUP candidate. A bunch of elderly duffers elsewhere. Not one getting in on the first count. The vote collapsing around them. Bazza running his own show in Lagan Valley and ignoring his running mates. Oh yes indeed…merit played a great part in the UUP selection process.

    For someone who likes to portray himself as the great future hope of the UUP this was a fairly dismal performance from Bazza.

    As Ooops noted, “are you sure you want to be highlighting this debate”?

    Apart from that fluffery it was a fairly dismal day up at Stormont yesterday. Power has been returned to their hands and this is all they think worthy of debate.

    Then promises to review rates and dole out free prescriptions to counterbalance the awarding of extra office costs to themselves (“But no,” they protest, “that was Hain’s doing”) and the recommendation in a few days time that they should increase their salaries.

    I despair. What a shower of self-serving, empty-headed tossers our MLAs are.


  • boshank

    Michael, look it’s pathetic no ifs and or buts about it, the UUP had an opportunity to select more women onto the officer team and didn’t. New spokesmanship’s were announced yesterday: no women. Marion Smith, Hermon, Paula Bradshaw, Sonia Copeland, etc, etc…it’s not like we don’t have any.

    i think truthfully we are running out of excuses.

  • Michael Shilliday

    In all fairness the opportunity was for one more woman on the officers, and she came closer than most people do on a first attempt.

  • boshank

    this is true. But not close enough obviously. I think it’s one thing to say we are working at it and currently lagging behind, but the few we already have and who are interested are currently ignored.We can’t have it both ways.

  • Michael Shilliday

    I think if the election had been STV Sonia would have got in on my transfers, but it wasn’t.

    I think that ignored is a little strong. There are some problems that can be fixed pretty easily in the review, but a lot of it is cultural in our party, and I do not necessarily mean male chauvanism.

  • Given the calibre of male candidates elected by the UUP, the likes of Roy Beggs etc, it’s a double insult for the party’s womenfolk. If they can’t best these boys in the selection process, they’re a pretty poor look out.

  • IJP

    At least they had women to de-select!

  • SuperSoupy

    The UUP have a brass neck. SF provide 44% of all the female MLAs and they comprise 29% of their team.

    Certainly beats the UUP’s 0% in both categories. Bunch of jokers.

  • Bigger Picture

    This is really poor stuff from a party that has the worst record on female participation in a political party. Seriously what was the merit in posting this just to attract all these negative comments?? Well done Michael, Basil and Roy

  • Michael Shilliday

    What would be the point in ignoring the problem? We know we have a problem, and we know we have to fix it. The point is that all parties have a problem, and that every party has its own horror stories to one degree or another.

  • SuperSoupy

    The point is the UUP are the worst offenders and your, Basil and Roy’s attempts to shift focus elsewhere was utterly ridiculous so you are experiencing the pointed finger and laughs.

  • Dairmaid

    What was this nonsense that Basic McCrea came out with that Lady Hermon didn’t want to run as an MLA and they can’t be blamed for that. Is there no other women in the UUP?

  • SuperSoupy


    Their bizarre point is there are other women but not a single one is of a sufficient caliber to be considered for elected office. The UUP seems to think this shows they are serious about the issue unlike other parties.

  • Bigger Picture

    It is def a serious issue and the UUP have some brass neck trying to point out the others failures when they are rock bottom of the league. It’s akin to Watford telling Man Utd they let too many goals in last week. (In relation to West Ham, ironically Watford probably would have thought this) But whats the solution?? Surley quality should count more than numbers? look at the executive when women do enter politics they do seem to achieve. When quality comes through it shines and mainly when women come through the political system they are encouraged to keep going. I think the problem is not electing more women but recruiting more capable women into politics who will be an asset to their respective parties when they seek and become elected representatives. Would certainly add quality rather than just mere quantity.

  • SuperSoupy

    Here are the stats.

    While it makes the UUP spin stand out starkly it also shows that regardless of the deselection nonsense SF actually returned 6 new female MLAs far more than the single deselected candidate.

    SF, Alliance, the SDLP and the PUP are the only parties that perform anywhere near well but have a lot more work to do.

    Unionism’s performance was embarrassing but the UUP’s is laughable.

    Unionism blocking intensive work on the issue indicates we shouldn’t expect any improvement from them.

  • Michael Shilliday

    The PUP have a lot more work to do on getting women into the Assembly?

  • Observer

    This once again represents the poor showing of the UUP.

    What a state that Party is in!

    Boy aren’t we all glad they’re no longer in control… oh the relief!

  • Boy aren’t we all glad they’re no longer in control… oh the relief!

    Yea to think they might as well have lead us into a forced coalition with Martin McGuinness.

    But then again, no ones really in control anymore are they, cus whatever Papa Doc does he will have to pass it with Marty’s people first…

    Smash Sinn Fein Indeed.

  • SuperSoupy


    You can’t get away from the substance of this story. Your party tried to spin it in the Assembly, Michael tried it here.

    This story is about women in politics and how the UUP haven’t while spouting crap on the topic.

    Deflection is futile. You shone the light on yourselves. Now experience the pointed finger and laughs, spinning won’t work.

    0% is 0%.

  • Ok SS,

    If you actually read what I said you would have seen that I avoided the main point of this thread, mainly because I have very little to say about it, but I’ll let you keep your halo shining…

    Well erm I don’t think it to be a party problem as in a problem that needs urgently addressed by the internal leadership, for unlike SF, we actually let our associations freely choose who stands. It is there were I think the problem rises, maybe the associations and divisions should be encouraging/grooming women to stand? But then again should candidates really be chosen for what’s between their legs?

    It is obvious to me that there is no shortage of women within the party, there just is no real desire among them to take public office, this has always been a problem, however it is now just being brought thanks to the Sinn Fein production line of candidates. Is it becoming some sort of competition to see which party can get more women elected? Next it’ll be non-whites and then maybe even gingers?!?

    I don’t disagree that something needs to be done but I don’t see it as a crisis within the party…

  • Nothing between the ears either

    [i]But then again should candidates really be chosen for what’s between their legs?[/i]

    Why not? It’s not like the UUP men have much to offer there.

  • Smithsonian

    It should be pointed out the women do not make up 50% of the population, women are actually in the majority. And the weight of this majority falls amongst pensioners. What steps have SF taken to address this deficiency in their selection procedures?

    and just why did Sinn Fein deselect Davy Hyland and Pat O’Rawe? Did they sense the electorate was unhappy with them or did just not fit in with the party line?

    As Davy Hyland might have put it… It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female as long as you do as you are told.

  • Smithsonian

    Interestingly SF only returned two sitting female MLAs? What does that tell us?

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Smithsonian…what does it tell us…with Martin McGuiness ruling in stormont for sinn fein…I guess Martin doesn’t want any competion with women republicans….rather a sad commentary for him and the party. But they will realize…women will not be silenced…Women vote…but maybe martin wants that to go as well….. He seems to want it to be his way or the highway….

  • Animus

    A UUP MLA I met a few weeks ago lamented the fact that the party needs some new blood and to attract a younger batch of politicians to the party. Maintaining a moderate stance may make it difficult for this to happen though, when the ‘excitment’ is seen to be at the more radical ends of political opinion. Highlighting the lack of women may be a plea to get more women interested in unionism.

    But merely having women in a party isn’t a great thing. I can think of at least one prominent SF female politician who is just not that bright and yet seems to get far more attention than she deserves (obviously there are a number of thick men politicians of all stripes, but this thread is about deselecting women). She’s held up as a positive example of SF’s policies but it does seem to be more of a case of the face fitting and being able to toe the party line.

  • Smithsonian

    Kathy C
    The fact that 6 out of 8 female MLAs returned by SF are new faces would seem to bear that out.

  • Cynical

    Animus – you wouldn’t be talking bout Mary-Lou, the shinners prized catch from Fianna Fail would you?!

    As for the UUP, there are not enough women in the party, that fairly obvious, in addition the vast majority of those they do have are aged 70+ while the rest seem to be merely mouthpieces.

  • Bigger Picture

    Thats the point about encouraging women into politics, you need capable ones. The SF policy on women does mean that more candidates are women but it remains how effective they are. Anyone remember Kathy Stanton SF MLA for North Belfast?? Having lived in N Belfast during that period i never heard her ever being mentioned!!

    For SF it seems to be about window dressing. Even more senior women in SF Ruane, Gildernew and Mary-Lou come over as less capable every time i hear them on tv, especially when they are being challenged. Anyone here remember Ruane on the Politics show just after the Assembly elections?? The stop playing games debate with Jim Fitzpatrick?? Made no attempts to answer any question seriously put to her – awful.

  • J_K

    I think that the SF women compare very well to the women MLA’s in the other parties – they have just made Caral the Chief Whip and she was pretty good on the Politics Show last week.

    The fact that there is competetion for selection within SF I think is also good – it means that the quality of elected reps will continue to improve.

    What is a disgrace that none of the unionist parties could bring themselves to support the SF motion on the under representation of women at the Assembly the other day – what a shower of d#@ks.

  • votescast?

    What were the votes cast for the motion and against? Does anyone know?

  • IJP


    Ah now be fair.

    Remember Mr Beggs said that if the Ulster Unionists had run Sylvia, that would have been 1 out of 18 as opposed to 0 out of 18.

    And clearly 1 out of 18 is as near to 50% as damnit.

    Besides, it’s not as if all 18 are middle-class and middle-aged. Only about 17 of them are.

    [sarcasm off]

  • middleclasstoff

    “Besides, it’s not as if all 18 are middle-class and middle-aged. Only about 17 of them are”

    Just like the Alliance Party then, and really in fact all the MLAs in the Assembly with few exceptions! There is a class issue as well as a gender issue here.

    Altho Alliance tend to be more upper middle class don’t they?

  • Whatever Next

    However much the DUP pays Shillers to keep posting gems like this, it’s not enough. Maybe the UUP can find more wimmin amongst the hoodettes of the UVF?

    As far as the supposed point of this whinge went, it’s interesting that not one voice has been raised saying why this Sheeple-like position – ‘more women good, less women bad’ – is in any way a truth which has to be universally subscribed to.

    Why do we need more (or less) female (or male) MLAs/cllrs/MPs? Is anyone going to seriously argue that in a democracy the sexual ratio of an elected body has to directly equal that of the electorate? Why? how closely? what happens if the people don’t play ball and continue to elect the wrong people? And while no one has yet spelt out why this supposed ‘representation by percentage’ should exist, who should be represented? the people who bother to vote, or everyone entitled to vote? And why should it just be confined to sex? What about an equally direct correlation between elected representatives and the religious sub-strata of the populace? or the ethnic? or the etc?

    Can women only be represented by women? Can only women represent women? If this is the case, why doesn’t it apply likewise to male voters and male representatives?

    What are these evidently innate, profound and immutable sexual differences which require us (well, the PC amongst us)to pretend to care what sex the candidates before us for election are, above and beyond their party allegiances? Come on – we’re meant to be living in an equal opportunity society where discrimination is illegal on a host of grounds including ‘gender’ [sic]. So, assuming that there aren’t meaningful differences between the sexes on which one could reasonably, indeed, rationally discriminate upon, why all of a sudden are there supposed to be such insurmountable differences that we can’t trust people*-who-happen-to-be-male, say, to represent people**-who-happen-to-be-female?

    [* & ** accepting all the while, of course, their unalienable right to redefine themselves as the ‘other’ sort of person at any point they should wish, and for this wish to be respected absolutely &c]

    Admit it, you PC know-nothings: the evidence of your own eyes, and that of everyone else, is that it makes FA difference to the quality of representative democracy whether all MPs are male, some MPs are male, or exactly the percentage of public that momentarily happens to be male tallies with the numer of male MPs.

    And I’ll say it one more time – it’s characteristic of the unalloyed weakness of the PC case that it hasn’t actually be argued at any point. It’s simply, as per this thread, asserted that it would be a Good Thing if there were more rather less women politicians, regardless of whether that’s true, let alone with reference to what the consequences of forcibly achieving that utterly artificial goal would be.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Whatever next, I do have sympathy with some of what you say.

    I remember listening to a feminist talk about the statistics of what she called female representation in Parliament. The fact is that 100% of women in the UK are represented in Parliament, just not necessarily by women.

    But having no women amongst your representatives on a popularly elected body just isn’t good enough.

  • IJP


    … which is why tallies indicate Alliance’s highest vote share in North Down was in the Loughview Estate, outpolling the Ulster Unionists nearly 2:1.

    Class, age, gender, ethnic background, religious affiliation, doesn’t really matter how you do it, really the Ulster Unionist team is, well, “pathetically monocultural”…

  • Smithsonian

    Class – Fred Cobain to Alan McFarland
    Age – John McAlister to Bob Coulter
    Ethnic background – More tokenism required?
    Religious affiliation – various and none

    Alliance party – 5% of the vote
    No influence, No talent, No point.