Much is made, by party leaders, of promoting females into politics. It is true females are under represented in local councils, and at Westminster.
One significant difference between local and Westminster opportunities is that for every MP seat many, many people apply for each one. The exact opposite is true for council seats. Often filling a candidacy for a local council is less about selecting from a field of applicants but rather twisting people’s arms to stand. This is true of all parties.
So why is that. The truth is being a local councillor involves long hours dealing with case work, many long committee meetings and an electorate that is quick on criticism and short on thanks. On top of all that the financial rewards are extremely low. Individuals find themselves under the public microscope and are subjected to abuse. Why would anyone stand?
MPs, on the other hand, while suffering similar workloads are not subjected to quite the same intense scrutiny of every decision they make, nor are they responsible for local services that matter so much to local people.
But the big difference is that being an MP is rewarded financial and seen as a career. Councillors don’t get paid but receive an allowance, which is unlikely to meet minimum wage standards.
In my experience, most MPs of all parties I have met are intelligent, competent and articulate, even if I don’t agree with their views.
In contrast a lot of councillors lack any leadership skills, have little understanding of basic organisational finances and are poor communicators.
Seeking positive discrimination in favour of women might make it impossible to fill a seat. What we need to do is make it an attractive opportunity for all applicants, with rewards fitting for the significant contribution they make.
Something about peanuts and monkeys comes to mind.
I think councils should represent the communities they serve and that means race, age, wealth as well as sex. Under the current system we fall short in all the categories and I wonder if that is good for democracy?