Harriet Harman yesterday backed off on plans to introduce quotas into the Shadow Cabinet elections.
Thank God for that. We would really have started to look foolish in front of the electorate we are hoping will vote us back before long. You see, we forget that the preoccupations of a small number of members of the political class in Westminster, or even around the country, are not the preoccupations of the country as a whole. Unlike a few members of the Party, the country as a whole does not see glaring inequality in their daily life at every turn.
While it's certainly a frustrating and accepted truth that women still do not hold a sensible proportion of top management jobs, it is simply not true that it is necessary to have 50-50 or bust in Shadow Cabinet posts. It is iniquitous enough that positive discrimination has twisted our selection processes for MPs beyond all recognition, without compounding this and affecting our ability to select the best possible team by forcing us into quotas.
Can we not trust ordinary Party members to select the best ministers without feeling we have to "guide" them? Are Party members really so intrinsically sexist, for Heaven's sake? Thank God this debate, at least, seems to be over for now.