Move over lads….

I met with Jenny muir this morning. Jenny is a lecturer and lives in South Belfast, and she spoke to me this morning on women in politics. A question we discussed was what is it that puts women off politics? Jenny raised points such as time, the lack of any networks for women in politics, which contributes to making them feel isolated, and how political parties are organised and conduct their business. Each point raised, Jenny had an argument to knock it down. For example – it couldn’t be time, as women went to evening classes and made the necessary child care arrangements, and other social events were well attended by women. So it wasn’t time. Perhaps its a more different learning curve for women in politics. Is it that we aren’t used to formal debate? Then there was the difficulty of being heard and listened to, and being taken seriously by those around us.

In the video Jenny discusses party politics in more detail

  • Rory Carr

    I visit St Albans (Veralaneum) often where my daughter lives and I find that the good citizenry of that borough are still uneasy about the role of women in politics owing to abiding memories of an unhappy visit by a politically motivated woman, named alternatively, Boudicca or Boadecia, back in the day.

    Some attitudes are really slow to change.

  • Seimi

    I think that women are more intelligent than us men, and therefore recognise that politics should be left well alone 🙂

    Gonna show that one to the better half later, see if i can score some brownie points 🙂

  • wild turkey

    Interesting. I did some research on this issue many many moons ago at the late lamented EOC.

    a few quick points/questions. Kathleen, in your talk were with Ms Muir, were any of the following points discussed:-

    1. the genesis, experiences and demise of the women coalition discussed? If yes, any possible lessons learned.

    2. Comparitive analysis of womens participation in partisan politics; both between countries and within countries at various levels of jurisdiction, local, regional and national, ie why is NI persistently go pisspoor at engaging and retaining the involvement of women in politics.

    3. the persistence of nepotism in overwhelmingly male dominated hierachies.

    On a more fundamental point, I like the idea of direct conversation/discussion which is not reliant upon the MSM. I hope to see more of this direct issue based conversational approach on slugger in the future.

    good luck

  • RedMole

    Good work Jenny & Kathleen – very interesting and very important topic

  • Dave

    It’s refreshing that Jenny Muir doesn’t adopt the traditional feminist line of blaming the failure of women to succeed in politics on the male gender. She is right to put the emphasis on personal qualities that are under the control of the individual (assuming he or she is gifted with them) and not subject to the prejudices of others, such as stamina, a brass neck, determination, etc. Genius always finds a way.

    The problem I have, however, is with the essential redundancy of her commonsense advice. If it is not known to the individual, then what do such feeble people have to contribute? It seems useful only as a guide to the involvement of folks in local politics. Politics at a national level should be public service that is offered by the great and the good to society, rather than a career for self-serving specimens of mediocrity. The great and the good have already been tested and have a track record of outstanding success, and therein is the redundancy of the advice.

  • You’d no

    Aye you wud no davey boy

  • Dave

    And what part isn’t true? Politics needs people of exceptional calibre who are supported by a record of outstanding achievement. That class of people don’t require mollycoddling. If, on the other hand, you want to elect mediocre hacks then a night class on ‘How to be a local politician’ is probably a good idea. I think the Shinners run them.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Politics needs people of exceptional calibre who are supported by a record of outstanding achievement’

    Politics may need such people, but does it’s history show past alumni, on the whole, to fit the bill??????

  • Dave

    It doesn’t, RS. We elect idiots and then we act all annoyed when they do as idiots tend to do: make a mess of things they’re put in charge of. I just think we can’t afford that attitude any more, and we need to look at how we can get a higher calibre of person to serve the country.

  • I couldn’t agree more with the comments on calibre, which may in fact be the best argument for encourging more women to get involved in politics – if we want the best, don’t exclude 50% of the population.

    Wild Turkey – we didn’t discuss any political party except the one I’m a member of, as we were talking mainly about our own experiences. (Incidentally, I’m just about to leave that party, but for a reason that has nothing to do with sexism, it’s a policy difference.) I wasn’t living in NI in 1998/99, but if I had been then it would have been difficult not to support the Women’s Coalition, under the circumstnaces. But in general I would be opposed to a party aimed only at one section of the population, which is why I can’t support the majority of parties here.

    Nor did we discuss statistics (I’m not a politics lecturer, BTW) – although I’m not sure it’s relevant that NI is so much worse than elsewhere, we just have to try to do better from our own starting point and circumstances. When in Australia recently, I noticed a different attitude to women in politics because the deputy leaders of both the party in power and the opposition (in the Federal gvt) are women. That’s the kind of critical mass to aim for.

    I don’t think nepotism (or cronyism) is restricted to men, it’s just that they have had more opportunity for it up to now.

    And Dave, yes, politics should be about public service but then so should a lot of jobs that people do for various less honourable motives – and I can think of a few very principled politicians e.g. Jeremy Corbyn from when I was living in London. It’s about developing a culture of serving the whole community.

  • Danny Boy

    Great post, very interesting. I think Dave’s ‘genius always finds a way’ line is a bit of a non-starter; anyone know of a successful female genius from Darfur? ‘Literate, affluent geniuses supported by their communities find a way’, maybe.

  • With so much other journalism taking place, it has taken me a few days to catch up with this thread.

    What she has said about women’s issues is taken on board. It is something to bear in mind, particularly, when trying to recruit women into politics. That is what the Conservatives are trying very hard to do at the moment.

    I looked at Jenny Muir’s blogs. She is an interesting character. She is a socialist and knows very well the lie of the land in relation to possible representation of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

    Obviously, my politics are aligned differently to hers but as somebody who wants normal politics in Northern Ireland, I hope the People, like Jenny, work towards and find a way to see the left represented on a cross-community basis.

  • Bibi

    ‘Politics needs people of exceptional calibre who are supported by a record of outstanding achievement’

    and the Blair Babes proved that they are as useless or more useless than their male counterparts!