18/07/2012

Plaid Cymru's women leaders



The recent election of Ceredigion Assembly Member Elin Jones as Deputy leader of the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Assembly, alongside Leanne Wood as Party Leader, is welcome for a number of reasons.

Firstly it demonstrates a welcome coming together of two people who recently fought the party's leadership campaign against each other. Secondly it provides the leadership with geographical and linguistic balance. And thirdly, it further solidifies Plaid Cymru’s commitment to the promotion of women.

Almost all the key posts in Plaid Cymru are now filled by females:

Leader: Leanne Wood AM
Deputy Leader: Elin Jones AM
President: Jill Evans MEP
Chair: Helen Mary Jones
Chief Executive: Rhuanedd Richards

Just to provide a little balance, Elfyn Llwyd is the party’s UK Parliamentary Leader. 

People have been scratching their heads to find a party in any country that compares to this. 

Of course, despite efforts, it's not like this throughout the party. Plaid has operated a degree of positive discrimination in its selection of Assembly candidates for years with only limited success. The party's Welsh Assembly group currently consists of four women out of 11 AMs. Clearly more needs to be done.

Those arguing against positive discrimination tend to emphasise the importance of selecting the perceived best candidate for the job. This forgets that ‘the job’ is currently defined by a somewhat adversarial, arguably male-orientated, political world. We need to be thinking in a longer-term, more revolutionary way than that. There's discussion of ways others are trying here.

The real issue for me is the democratic deficit that happens when 50% of the population is grossly under-represented in government. This has a devastating effect on our societies. Of course, there's always the occasional Thatcher, but, in the main, it's very unlikely that we'd have so many wars or that the planet's eco-system would be in such a state if women were properly represented in governments around the world. The pre-dominance of women at the top of Plaid Cymru is unique in politics and a credit to the party. 

1 comment:

  1. Well put Alun. The fact that even local politics is often adverersarial obviously puts women off. Without a bottom up approach getting women to stand for higher office is even harder. In our own experience it is often very hard work persuading women to stand. When they do get elected they frequently are some of the best advocates for those that elect them.

    The fact is that both males and females are less and less inclined to value attempting to get involved in politics because the perception is present that it is all already sown up. The perception may be wrong , but the results of people having such a perception- often propagated by the media can be devastating.

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