Sunday, August 02, 2009

Iain Dale: Ladies, Relax! Leave it to Tools You Can Trust

Seems that national treasure Iain Dale is going to go on the BBC News Channel shortly (3:20pm he says) to explain that it's Tools You Can Trust when it comes to the private arrangements of political parties. Dear-O dear-o Dale-o is responding to a rather desperate Sunday Times story, reminding silly season readers of a position that Labour's Deputy Leader Ms Harriet Harman took more than TWO YEARS AGO, when she was elected. Viz. That women and men should be represented fairly evenly throughout the people's party.

"Sloppy cobblers Iain" was my first response though, given the subject, what a twat I am, I should perhaps have excluded this slack "parts of the body" lingo.

Through most layers of the LP we have arrangements to ensure women are represented. Constituency parties are required to send at least half woman delegates to conference. It cannot just be muggins' turn among a cabal of greyback big bollocks' mongers.

The CLP section in the NEC is 50% women. And so it goes on at other levels in the people's party. We also have a certain amount of positive action in selection at parliamentary matters. For Westminster - some AWS. For European - a "zip", and even at local level arrangements may be adopted to see the party pick from 100%, not the more traditional 50% of the population.

This is all relatively new. But representation is far far better in our party than in others. In terms of gender and other dimensions. And those other parties, including Iain Dale's own Conservatives under Dave Twat Cam, are sensing that they need to stand up to neantherdal men and women within and also have a go at addressing inequality.

By choosing from more than 50% of the population it is fairly logical to conclude that Labour have a better chance of getting better people into these roles overall. Over time. It's not instant.

But I'd go further. People are not all the same. And teams benefit from difference rather than the clonery and dronery of blokeish blokes chosing more blokeish blokes and so on ad nauseum.

To take the Belbin Team Roles model for example, the word is that there are nine role types: Plant, Resource Investigator, Coordinator, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Teamworker, Implementer, Completer Finisher, Specialist. They're defined at the link. Teams that don't properly cover all the roles under-perform.

My experience suggests that the ability to lead in each of these areas is not necessarily evenly distributed between the genders! Coming from a completely different place - Mid Narnia fantasy world - the raving mythomaniac Nadine Dorries MP added her twopenneth a few days ago, tackling some alleged mis-quoting by the press:

I did not say Conservative women are passionate (although I am sure we all are!) I said that women are more passionate about individual issues and tend to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, whereas the men operated more like drones who worked away at the agenda. I even described how sometimes I looked at the men en masse in the voting lobby, all dressed the same, all buzzing around and how the women really stick out as no two of us are alike and we all could be identified for the individual issues we champion.

Although there may be an opportunity for a great leap forward for the Tories at the next election it remains to be seen whether it will be taken. Judging by Mr Dale's attitude, and indeed that of his comment muppets and those at The Sunday Times to boot Tory folk just don't have an ounce of sense on this. They are a closed book. Stuck in the mud. A throwback.

Harriet was - two years ago don't forget - only I'd say following the logic of Labour's lower layers through. Detached from the time and context of that she's happy to repeat the concept, in a rather rhetorical way ... to set tongues wagging, in a good way, and to trap Tory dinosaurs into setting themselves up against Equality.

Leaving that aside Mr Dale has inserted some more sloppy bollocks into the issue with some foolish assertions about Equality legislation:

Harman has already gone far in enough in dictating that if employers have two equally qualified candidates, they should choose the female candidate. If she got away with this ridiculous suggestion, there's no telling where it would lead.

Well, there is actually. To Harriet Harman leading the Labour Party. Hmmmm. Perhaps I see some mischievous merit in it after all!

This assertion that Harrie has dictated preference for under-represented groups in absolutely tied recruitment situations is more Dale twattery.

There is a provision that employers MAY so choose. Faced with a draw, with nothing between the candidates, they MAY choose the applicant that balances any imbalance in their workforce RATHER than flipping a coin, asking an obscure general knowledge question, drawing straws, or indeed running other tests on a sudden death basis.

This is going to be an exceedingly rare situation.

And it could just as well favour men where women are over-represented. Let's say in filling a senior nursing post. With two tied candidates the employer could pick the man!

It is not compulsory.

Just not illegal to make a thoughtful rather than random choice in these circumstances.

So, Iain Dale, should it be illegal to voluntarily make a thoughtful choice in the recruitment sphere when faced with two absolutely equal candidates? To take into account the overall needs of your organisation? The balance of your workforce?

And, Iain Dale, has it got the slightest bit to do with you and your prescriptive hordes what we in the Labour Party choose to do within our organisation?

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