All-women @ProgressOnline panel including the fab @mandytelford and @jessphillips! #Lab15 pic.twitter.com/atoEfOqpLI— Anna Phillips (@annaphillips_) September 28, 2015
- There is nowt wrong with an all-women panel, not least when the topic of conversation is pregnancy.
- But praising an all-women panel for being an all-women panel means that the presence of a single male of human species on the panel would make it unpraiseworthy; indeed it would be a bad thing.
- The tweet is about representation, primarily on panels of speakers at events. That representation is provided through identity in terms of someone’s fixed properties – in this case gender but it could also be via skin colour, religion or even sexuality. So in this photo for example we can see 100% women’s representation but 0% ‘BME’ (black and minority ethnic) representation.
- A small point, but a pet gripe of mine: the use of ‘fab’. This is all over the place in Labour and seems to me emblematic of our transition to a party of middle class progressives who love telling each other how ‘fab’ they are.
- I’ve nowt against Anna Phillips (I don’t even know her) and feel a bit bad about deconstructing and criticising her tweet; however it does show up these things rather well.
The account of representation we can see here is becoming ubiquitous in Labour and wider left-wing/liberal circles. It can be quite difficult to get your head around its negative aspects because there is a basic goodness and decency in it – that women should be ‘represented’ in Parliament and professions like the media (two areas of particular interest to the activists who campaign about this stuff) is completely fair and right.