Seema Malhotra – consultant and professional politico – chosen to fight Labour’s next byelection. Who’dda thunk it?
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Well, it appears that Labour have selected a real community candidate for the safe seat vacated by the unfortunate death of Alan Keen MP. According to her blog….
Seema Malhotra is co-founder and Director of the Fabian Womens Network and a former National Chair of the Fabian Society. From May-Oct 2010 she was Political Advisor to Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP in the Leader of the Opposition’s Office. She was the West Midlands Labour Party’s regional policy coordinator and adviser to Regional Ministers Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Ian Austin MP. She is active in the Co-operative Party and Unite and speaks and writes in national media on gender issues, regional and national politics. Seema is a freelance business and public services adviser and has over ten years experience with leading firms Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has worked with a range of government departments in the UK including Revenues and Customs, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not going to judge Seema because she worked for PWC – the nature of 21st century British capitalism is that a lot of people end up doing socially useless work. Indeed, if people with Seema’s background were not so disproportionately represented in the Parliamentary, I would have very little to say on this. Yet the way in which people with this kind of background dominate the ranks of those chosen to represent Labour in parliament raises questions that need answering.
Firstly, what does the absolute dearth of working class labour candidates say about the mentality of those who manage and massage the selection process. Do they imagine that Britain’s working class and lower-middle class majority are incapable of representing their own interests in parliament.
Secondly, what does it do to the politics of the Parliamentary Labour Party when its social make up is so very socially skewed? Again, don’t get me wrong. First-hand experience is not the only means of acquiring knowledge and understanding, or indeed arriving at good political positions. But equally, politics does not take place in a social vacuum. When the Labour elite is so entrenched in a particular, unrepresentative social milieau, we are entitled to ask what this does to Labour’s politics. We are especially entitled to pose such a question after a 13 year Labour government, which worked smashingly for people like Seema, while subjecting Labour’s core base to increasing inequality.
Seema a makes a good point when she states that “political equality is not just a consequence that follows from social equality, but in fact is something we must now see as a pre-requisite to social equality. If you don’t have the voices of men and women more equally in political decision making we’ll continue to be making decisions from the narrow perspective of a minority”
Well quite. Now, however, it is time to consider the dearth of working class representation at Labour’s top table, and to engage in a bit of joined up thinking.
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