Nadine Dorries (the MP for mid-Narnia) has been explaining why she is not in favour of all-women short-lists. I have to confess that positive discrimination makes me slightly uncomfortable, so it would have been easy for her to write something that I would have had to grudgingly admit to agreeing with.

Luckily for me, she didn’t do that. She wrote a load of total nonsense.

A lot of it is the usual crap that we have come to expect from Mad Nad. Parliament is a boys club. Women have a hard time there. She only survives because she is “shot through with working class pride”. I’m surprised she didn’t mention that women are generally happier in the kitchen.

That’s all business as usual as far as Dorries is concerned. What’s new (as far as I know) is here introduction of a new branch of statistics (let’s call it “Nadnomics”) which bears no relation to any statistics that I have ever been taught.

Here’s what she says:

As only 30% of applications to become an MP are from women, and that’s after all the hype and window dressing, we have to ask the question, what do women really want? Because it’s becoming pretty obvious that 70% of them don’t want to be an MP.

That’s a pretty astonishing leap of logic. Because 30% of applications to become MPs are from women, that must mean that 70% of women don’t want to be MPs.

Let’s take this nice and slowly for the slow of understanding. We have a population of people who have applied to become an MP. How big do we think that this population is? Well, Nad doesn’t say but we can estimate some figures. There are about 650 constituencies in the country. Let’s assume that on average they have five candidates standing and that each party has six people applying to stand in each constituency. That gives us about 20,000 people trying to be an MP at any time. The true number will be lower than that as I’m completely ignoring the fact that the majority of MPs don’t stand down at an election and their places on the ballot paper are therefore uncontested.

So we have a vague estimate of 20,000 people who want to be an MP. If we believe Nad’s numbers,  14,000 (70%) of them are men and 6,000 (30%) are women. Let’s make up another number and assume that there are at any time 20 million men and 20 million women who are eligible to become an MP. This means that 0.07% of men and 0.03% of women want to become an MP. A long way from the numbers that Nadnomics gave us.

Yes, I was making up numbers all over the place. And the margin of error in my calculations is huge. But it would need to astronomical (which it isn’t) in order to get anywhere near the Nadnomics numbers.

And I haven’t even started to question Nad’s source data. Where does that 70/30 figure come from? Is it from the Tory party? Or has she aggregated data from all parties? Perhaps other parties have different percentages. Has she considered that?

Yes, there’s a problem that women are criminally under-represented in Parliament. And yes, there’s an interesting debate to be had around whether or nor all-women short-lists are the best way to address this problem. But throwing around ridiculous numbers like this is not the best way to approach it.

Voters of Mid-Beds, your MP is a fool. Please don’t re-elect her.

One comment

  1. Nadine Dorries is someone I rarely agree with, and her comments on AWS are no exception. Aside from her poor arithmetic skills, she offers no solution to the problem of trying to get more women into Parliament. AWS is and must remain a temporary solution. It is discriminatory, but it is not tokenism. Her views about two classes of MP will be lost on most voters – they will only see a female MP, ignorant of the processes that got them there.She ignores what I believe is one of the major stumbling blocks, the very unattractiveness of politics to women. Our adversarial, family-unfriendly, privacy-invading system is, in my humble opinion, a big turn off.However, it looks like Mr Cameron is back-peddling on this issue anyway, so the Tories will continue to look male-dominated and teh next parliament is likely to see the numbers of women decline.

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