‘Our Future Prime Minister Shouldn’t Be Decided By A Few Old White Men’

While the Tories choose our next Prime Minister, activist and writer Caroline Criado-Perez makes a plea for change...

Conservative Party Leadership Race

by Caroline Criado-Perez |
Updated on

Right now, the future of our country – who will become our next Prime Minister – is being decided by a small group of mostly old white men. And we could be stuck with their choice until 2022, when the next general election is due.

As Grazia goes to press, there are currently six men in the running for the Tory leadership, including Dominic ‘feminists are now among the most obnoxious bigots’ Raab, Boris ‘some measure of inequality is essential’ Johnson, and let’s not forget Michael ‘this country has had enough of experts’ Gove.

Both women (Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom) were knocked out last week, as the candidates are whittled down to two by their fellow Tory MPs (79% of whom are men) via a series of ballots. The lucky two will then be put forward to Conservative party members to make the final decision, with a new leader – and, by default, a new PM – being announced at the end of July.

And that’s a problem, because the Tories’ 124,000-strong membership is not exactly representative of the UK at large. It is 97% white (compared to 80.5% of the general population), 71% male, and 44% over the age of 65 (compared to 18% of the general population). This matters, because if the membership does not represent the diversity of the UK, nor will it represent its views.

Last week, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that his ‘personal view’ was that the legal time limit for an abortion should be halved from 24 weeks to 12 (which is too soon to spot several fatal foetal abnormalities) – in fact, all the candidates have voted against or abstained from recent votes for a woman’s right to an abortion.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson proposed a tax cut for the UK’s highest earners – who are disproportionately white men.

And then, of course, there is Brexit. There is no mandate for a No Deal Brexit: in May, anti-Brexit parties beat No Deal Brexit parties in the European elections. And yet, No Deal is exactly where we are headed, because that is what 76% of the Tory membership now wants. For the past three years, Brexiteers have been thundering about the ‘will of the people’. But now they’re happy for our future to be decided by 0.15% of the population? Whatever your views on Brexit, this is an affront to democracy.

In the long term, we need reform of the system. That our next PM is being chosen by a handful of people is a failing of our parliamentary process, and we’d be in a similar position if a Labour PM stood down (the Labour leader is decided by members, affliated trade union supporters and registered supporters).

But this is where we are now – and every aspect of our lives will be impacted by their choice. And so, whoever becomes the next Tory leader – and PM– must call a People’s Vote. The future of this country cannot be decided by
a small group of old white men.
Caroline Criado-Perez is the author of ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed for Men’

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us