>Female Question Time

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Tonight BBC’s question takes place in front of an all female audience to celebrate International Women’s Day. As with many issues around gender politics I am entirely unsure what to think. Female views are clearly important in the politic system, and I obviously believe that women should have every opportunity to participate in debate of any kind, but is this not a bit patronising from the BBC?

Thinking I was being overly harsh, I looked at the line up. Happily the first MP on the panel I saw was the excellent Jo Swinson. However, it goes downhill from here as we will be greeted with the joys of Caroline ‘window dressing’ Flint and a junior member of the Tory shadow cabinet  Justine Greening. The panel is padded out by Gardner’s World presenter Monty Don and…wait for it…Scouse scurge Kelvin Mackenzie.
This is the problem with these kind of programs, and increasingly with Question Time. It is all very staged. Fine, Jo Swinson is there as she has run a very strong gender balance campaign, and can be considered an increasingly big player in the party, (already holding a role in the normally male dominated Foreign Affairs team.) But can Flint or Greening be considered really big players? Flint’s presence is clearly meant to be a pre-election show of unity around Brown, pure opportunism.  As for Kelvin Mackenzie, I can only assume that he is their to wind the ladies with his normal smug attitude, and defend Page 3.

Of course this could be a great opportunity for people to see women at the forefront of political debate, particularly if the audience ask insightful questions about the issues that effect women going into this election. I hope the MPs display the true value of increasing the number of female MPs from the current, pathetic, level of 19%. Mostly I hope the program doesn’t turn into an awful display of tokenism. We shall see…

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