Sandi Toksvig announced yesterday that she is quitting her comedy career and setting up a new political party called the Women’s Equality Party. They won’t be fielding any candidates in the upcoming general election on May 7th, but plan to have some standing in five years time.
Considering how under-represented women are in Parliament (there are more men currently serving as MPs than there have been women MPs ever), and yet some clown has already seen fit to start a Men’s Rights Activism party, this is a welcome move.
Toksvig, who is perhaps best known for her work on BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, said “I have made jokes over and over again about politics, and do you know, this election I’ve had enough.”
“I have decided that instead of making jokes about it, I need to participate. So I am involved in the founding of a new political party. It’s called the Women’s Equality Party. It is a fantastic group of women – and indeed men – who have decided that enough is enough and we need to make some changes.”
Women – especially young women – are considerably less likely to vote than their male counterparts, with 9.1 million women not voting in the last general election compared to 7 million men.
Toksvig thinks this is because “The people standing don’t represent the diversity of this country.” She’s not wrong – UKIP, for example, have more men named Dave or Steve standing in this election than they do women. Labour is fielding the most women candidates in this election, but this is still far from equal – only 33.65%.
We’ll have to wait until 2020 to see if the Women’s Equality Party gain any seats in Parliament – our First Past the Post electoral system means it’s incredibly difficult for smaller parties to gain representation – but anything that mobilises women in politics can only be a good thing.