Before Boris became Prime Minister, I was asked who I would choose to lead the Conservative Party, my initial answer was Ruth Davidson MSP, the Scottish Conservative leader. Later I thought about it a little more ‘out of the box’ way and decided my dream team would be Ruth Davidson job sharing with Gareth Southgate. Ruth for her sheer competence as a politician and Gareth for his team building and training skills. Davidson has been appointed to the House of Lords so sadly is not aiming for the Prime Ministerial role one day, instead she’ll be Baroness Davidson. Here comes the inequality part, if you are a person married to a House of Lords Baroness – no title for you. But if you are a person married to a House of Lords Baron then you receive the title Lady. This glitch in the system was pointed out to me by a hereditary peer who said, “Men married to Baronesses were not treated as equals”. It looks unlikely Davidson’s partner will become Lady Jen Wilson.
Why is it important for Ruth Davidson to hold a prominent position? She’s a role model for other women, LGBTQ+, and Scottish individuals wanting their country represented in UK politics well. Davidson studied English literature at university and international development. She’s been a member of the territorial army and a Sunday school teacher, a journalist, producer, presenter and reporter. She’s authentic, warm, packed with common sense and highly skilled when talking to journalists; the competence drips off her. Yet how I connect with Davidson is that in 2009 we both heard David Cameron speak on TV and he reached out to women and those who had never been involved in politics before, and invited them into the political arena. And there’s lots more of us in the Conservative Party who came in at the same time, we form a tribe – not based on gender, sexuality, colour or creed but connected by Cameron’s invitation and a desire to make a difference in our area and serve our country. It’s rarely reported in the media because we don’t ‘look’ like an identifiable group – there are no divisions, no prejudice and we often connect at Conferences, Women 2 Win and Conservative Women’s Organisation events.
Firstly, to promote inclusion – ensure women are appointed to significant political positions, they become role models for other women to be inspired to aim for the same positions. It matters that the Labour Party have yet to appoint a woman as a leader. As 50.61% of the population are women you would hope this would be reflected in the number of women politicians in the UK. Currently 34% of the House of Commons are women. Labour – of 202 MP’s, 104 are women. Conservatives – of 365 MP’s, 87 are women. SNP – of 49 MP’s, 16 are women. 54 MP’s define themselves as LGBT (May 2020). May I suggest a change to the House of Lords rule re Baronesses so that husbands/wives receive a title?
Secondly, for transparency invite all political parties to publish the numbers of women, men, LGBTQ+, people of faith who applied to be considered for their candidates list, how many passed the application process, how long (months and years) they have been applying to be on shortlists and how many were successful in final selections and the numbers elected.
Third suggestion to promote inclusion would to be to invite ex-policy makers and ex-journalists in the House of Lords, (for example Ruth Davidson for the Conservatives) to train women in their party to write policy and handle the media with confidence.
I value inclusion, equality and transparency.