Brian Monteith wrote just before five o’clock today:
we may at last be seeing the beginning of a much needed realignment of Scottish politics.
But in one huge respect, Scottish politics is still aligned exactly the way it was before the elections.
From 2008-2012, Edinburgh Council had 15 women councillors out of 58. (Elizabeth Maginnis, elected to Forth Ward for Labour in 2007, died in 2008, and the seat was held for Labour by a man.) From 2012-2017, unless by-elections change this, there will be 15 women out of 58.
No political party today would argue that they ought to be allowed to discriminate against women.
But they all do.
We know they do, because we can look at the results:
That high point in the Labour graph was from 1997, when half of all constituencies with winnable seats were required to have women-only shortlists.
Of course men complained about this, and men’s reasons for complaining are obvious: this system meant that party activists who had earned and deserved a chance of winning a seat, would, in 50% of constituencies likely to go Labour, not stand a chance of being selected. That is to say, in just 50% of constituencies between 1997 and 2003 (when legal challenges from disgruntled men forced Labour to drop the policy) the men were in exactly the same position as women – and they didn’t like it.