Whenever someone starts a sentence with the words:
“I am not a racist/sexist/ageist/homophobic but” (delete as necessary), you can bet your life and immortal soul that they are. The societal and religious intolerant are always very keen to present a public display of equanimity and will smile benignly, secure in a twisted faith and will consider any interlocutor with an opposing opinion to be a moron because, oh dear, you just don`t understand.
The paucity of women MPs, particularly those of Asian origin, is clearly a matter of some concern for not just the Labour Party, but also for the rest of the bunch who any day now will be banging on our doors and promising us the earth if we vote for them. But the problem of under representation is a problem for political parties, not voters in those constituencies that are considered politically safe. Elevating candidates because of their gender or ethnic background rather than merit or local knowledge and commitment, damages the whole notion of equality and plays into the hands of the knuckle dragging BNP.
The imposition of an all woman short list for Walsall South will have undoubtedly angered some local Labour contenders unfortunate enough to have been born male and harbour ambition obviously fuelled by evil testosterone. The unsuccessful attempt by the Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman, to force an all Asian woman short list in Walsall is, at best, an example of Westminster tokenism and, at worst, an insult to the Walsall electorate. Interestingly, the rules laid down for Walsall, did not apply in Erdington where Jack Dromey was selected to stand for parliament. It would seem that hubby is more important than sisterhood.
Our next MP, whoever he or she might be, will have difficulty in matching the commitment to the constituency shown by Bruce George, an old war horse who was never afraid to speak his mind and knew this place like the back of his hand. The selection of Valerie Vaz as the next Labour candidate might go some way to filling Labour Party quotas but it remains to be seen if she has the credentials to serve as a capable constituency MP. There is no question that she is bright and able, but the assumption that the first thing she did on hearing of the parliamentary vacancy was to open Google Earth to look for Walsall is irresistible. The tradition of parachuting rising party stars into distant, parochial seats is well established and will continue. Ms Vaz is certainly more familiar with Ealing Broadway rather than Broadway North.
In these days, when MPs have a serious image problem and trust and regulatory compliance is in doubt, the voters of Walsall deserve a credible candidate with local experience who will champion local issues rather than further their own political careers. Valerie Vaz will certainly prove to be a perfect match to the Labour Party job description.
Possession of an X chromosome, looks good on camera, happens to have Asian ancestry and can legitimately wear a pashmina in public without looking ridiculous.
I am not a Labour voter, but…