I am considering some of the positive action programmes in place in the Labour Party, which are most extensively developed in favour of women. The Labour Party’s rules are subject to the law of the land[s] and possibly the most important part of the positive action programme for women other than all women short lists for candidates for public office is the rule that states that delegations shall be at least 50% women. Does this conflict with the Equality Act? Here are my notes …

Labour’s general rule which applies to all party units is the snappily entitled, C17.I. 2.O.iii. It says,

“This Party unit accepts the principle of minimum quotas for women at all levels of representation within the Party and shall take steps to ensure that 50 per cent of any delegation shall be women and, where only one delegate is appointed, a woman shall hold the position at least every other year.”

This can be justified by the Equality Act §158 Positive action: general. This is separate from §104 which permits all women shortlists for candidates for public office. §158 states that positive action programmes can be implemented if those with a shared protective characteristic are disadvantaged, have different needs, and are disproportionately inactive. Any positive action programme needs to be proportionate. For the positive action programme to be sustained, the organisation needs to ensure that the three legal qualifiers are still valid and true. This probably requires a regular consideration and decision.  I doubt this happens.

Once one starts looking at this, one as to question if an across the board requirement for 50% is proportionate; the Party itself excludes certain posts from this requirement, both on a dejure and defacto  basis and many CLPs will not have a 50/50 gender mix amongst their membership. I also wonder if, where a CLP exercises its right to send a women’s delegate, whether the cadence restriction on men serving as delegates should be permitted to continue.

See also, on this wiki,

Labour’s all women short lists


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