I received an email a couple of days ago from Labour in relation to the European candidates selection process. Part of it said as follows:
Arlene McCarthy, who was re-selected following a trigger ballot, will appear at the top of the list as the only sitting MEP in the region.
Beneath her, there are eight candidates – four men and four women – who need to be ranked in order of preference. The candidate who secures the most preferences will be placed second on the regional party list.
If a male candidate secures the most preferences, then the highest-placed female candidate will come next on the list, followed by the next male candidate and then by the female. If a female candidate secures the most preferences, then the highest placed male will come next on the list, followed by the next female candidate and then by the male.
This process is known as zipping and is used by the Labour Party in European candidate selections to help to balance male and female candidates.
You should vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference by placing a 1 against your first preference, 2 against your second preference and so on. You do not have to use all your preferences, although it cannot harm the chance of your first choice candidate if you do.
As Labour Uncut concluded recently:
At a time when there is widespread mistrust in politicians and disengagement in politics, does this really represent the most transparent way of selecting candidates?
Is “zipping” what the new politics is all about?
Meanwhile, I read yesterday (in Spanish) (robot English here) that in Spain the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is looking to get enshrined in electoral law there the aforementioned procedure of zipping (the Spanish call it “listas cremallera” – “zip lists”).
Whilst the procedure hasn’t been explained as clearly as it could have been, and Labour Uncut is right to bring our attention to this, it is obviously looking to right a severe wrong which the privileged few who control politics continue to exert even in the presence of 50 percent quotas. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever for men and women to make up an electoral list, if the majority of the electable seats end up in hands of men.
That it is time a representative democracy represents its people properly and transparently is no more self-evidently true than today, where a Cabinet of millionaires holds sway disastrously over our politics.
Zipping is a great idea whose time should have come long ago. Although it smacks through the word used, even when better explained, emotionally of tying up freedoms, we shouldn’t allow those who maintain existing profiles of privilege to kick the procedure into touch.
We need a fairer and more truly representative democracy. Properly implemented, a 50 percent quota with equal opportunities of winning for men and women will surely get us there eventually.
A case of a policy which might remove a raft of career choices for men like myself, but would – long-term – benefit us all socially a thousandfold over. After all, what’s the point of winning if it involves oppression? That’s not winning at all; that’s essentially the hierarchies of serfdom.
That’s a meritocracy built on catacombs of lies.
Let’s follow the PSOE’s example, and propose giving it legal backing. Time – long overdue, in fact – to make zipping the law for all political parties.