Oona King

13 September 2011

Baroness King of Bow: My Lords, I have often gazed down from the Public Gallery in some wonderment at this golden Chamber, and so it is with much humility, gratitude and a little surprise that I rise from these red Benches to speak. It is customary to thank the staff of the House and I genuinely want to do this, as in all the years that I have worked here they have always assisted me and, more remarkably still, never once arrested me. Long may their indulgence continue.

Published in Speeches

Have you ever wondered what Westminster is really like? What it feels like and tastes like from the inside? If so, regardless of your gender or politics, this is a book you have to read. Boni Sones succeeds in bringing Westminster to life, as well as shining a light on the traditionally male world of parliament, fashioned by 500 years of men-only shortlists.

Women in Parliament deconstructs the ‘Blair’s babes’ phenomena to give readers a real taste of what happened when the 1997 election doubled the number of women in parliament overnight. But, even after this huge increase in women, 82% of MPs were still men. It is no wonder that women, a small minority of parliamentarians, weren’t able to transform the Commons overnight. Yet they remained burdened with vast expectations.

Published in In the Press
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 11:06

Electoral Reform: A breed apart

The Commons has a disproportionate number of privately educated white men - not exactly representative

There are many strange things about sitting on the green benches of the House of Commons – from the men in tights wielding silver-buckled swords (Sergeant at arms), to the fishing-net of tiny microphones dangling above your head. But the thing I never got used to was more prosaic yet profound: that the politicians don’t look like the society that puts them there. For a start four out of every five MPs are men. Of that, there are only two black women and not a single Asian woman amongst them. And since each party usually gets a number of MPs out of proportion to the votes they receive, our polity fails a basic test: it fails, in reality, to be a representative democracy. The result, massively compounded by the expenses scandal, is that voters now feel MPs are a breed apart, with little sense of how modern Britain lives. For many of the MPs I worked with, this perception is unfair, but it is contributing to the erosion of democratic legitimacy.

Published in Electoral Reform
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