Expenses scandal opens the way for female MPs

The expenses scandal could be the catalyst of change for female members of Parliament, according to a professor of political science from Bristol University.

Sarah Childs, who made a speech at the University of Lincoln on Wednesday October 28th, explained that many politicians might give up their seats, which would open the way for women and could “transform the political structure”.

Childs believes that many politicians will not want to continue in politics because they “do not want the invasion of privacy” like that present at the height of the expenses scandal.

Other politicians might be unable to cope with the cost of living, unless they are independently wealthy, leaving them no choice but to leave the House of Commons. As a result it is an opportunity for women to start making a significant impression.

Last week she acted as a special adviser to the House of Commons Speaker’s conference, where all of the three main parties agreed to commit to women only shortlists.

Childs told Wednesday’s intimate gathering in the university’s Media, Humanities, and Technology building that the decision to implement all women shortlists was “unexpected”.

She said she was impressed with “the inter-party competition” between the prime minister, Gordon Brown, Conservative Party leader David Cameron, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

But she had decided that David Cameron, who intends to implement women-only shortlists by January 2010, was the strongest of all three because he “conceded” more than the others. Although she admitted that “women were knocking on the door, so women would have knocked down the door anyway.”

Childs also spoke about the number of research projects she is currently working on, calling it “wonderfully great but hideous”. She is currently researching women’s political participation and representation, ceremony and ritual in Parliament, and analysing the Conservative Party’s position on women.

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