Simon Woolley is the director and one of the founders of Operation Black Vote and a commissioner for race on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and he argues that the lack of diversity and subsequent lack of representation for women and ethnic minorities is very damaging for our democracy:
“Among our MPs, elected by the people for the people, there are only 191 women – 29% – nearly 150 women short of equal representation. In 2015 only 41 black and minority ethnic MPs – 6% – were elected, when there should be nearer 100 for a more equitable representation.
I hardly need to argue why representative democracy is vitally important. We know it’s morally right, but often forget that the greatest argument for a government to look like the people it seeks to serve – and that includes class and disability too – is that it gives us a better chance of effective and dynamic government. If you’re making big decisions about people’s lives, it’s better to have a variety of people, backgrounds and experience around the table.
No one’s suggesting a man cannot speak on gender equality issues – they could and they should. But most of the time? I don’t think so. Equally, not every black or minority ethnic MP wants to speak about race equality: they may be more inclined to talk about the environment or health. But there are others who do, and the issues affecting, for example, young black workers have to be dealt with”.