Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on Michael Ashcroft, ethnic-minority MPs and the political Osca

1. Hague kept non-dom status from Cameron

While William Hague has known about Lord Ashcroft's non-dom status "for a few months", David Cameron found out only "within the last month". "What does this mean for relations between the pair?" asks Political Scrapbook.

2. MacShane goes for Lord A -- but what about Total Politics?

Meanwhile, Paul Waugh reports that Denis MacShane has used parliamentary privilege to attack Lord Ashcroft as "Lord Sleaze of Belize". But what does this mean for MacShane's place on the board of the Ashcroft-owned Total Politics?

3. Why the Lib Dems struggle with diversity in parliament -- and what to do about it

The reason the Liberal Democrats have few black and ethnic-minority MPs is that they rarely select non-white candidates for winnable seats, says Sunder Katwala.

4. Britain needs a 21-hour working week

Anna Coote of the New Economics Foundation writes a guest blog for Left Foot Forward in which she makes the case for a shorter working week.

5. Political Oscars 2010: the envelopes, please . . .

The Huffington Post gives out awards for both politics and entertainment in categories such as "Rewriting of History" and "Best Fantasy".

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Harriet Harman warns that the Brexit debate has been dominated by men

The former deputy leader hit out at the marginalisation of women's voices in the EU referendum campaign.

The EU referendum campaign has been dominated by men, Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman warns today. The veteran MP, who was acting Labour leader between May and September last year, said that the absence of female voices in the debate has meant that arguments about the ramifications of Brexit for British women have not been heard.

Harman has written to Sharon White, the Chief of Executive of Ofcom, expressing her “serious concern that the referendum campaign has to date been dominated by men.” She says: “Half the population of this country are women and our membership of the EU is important to women’s lives. Yet men are – as usual – pushing women out.”

Research by Labour has revealed that since the start of this year, just 10 women politicians have appeared on the BBC’s Today programme to discuss the referendum, compared to 48 men. On BBC Breakfast over the same time period, there have been 12 male politicians interviewed on the subject compared to only 2 women. On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, 18 men and 6 women have talked about the referendum.

In her letter, Harman says that the dearth of women “fails to reflect the breadth of voices involved with the campaign and as a consequence, a narrow range [of] issues ends up being discussed, leaving many women feeling shut out of the national debate.”

Harman calls on Ofcom “to do what it can amongst broadcasters to help ensure women are properly represented on broadcast media and that serious issues affecting female voters are given adequate media coverage.” 

She says: "women are being excluded and the debate narrowed.  The broadcasters have to keep a balance between those who want remain and those who want to leave. They should have a balance between men and women." 

A report published by Loughborough University yesterday found that women have been “significantly marginalised” in reporting of the referendum, with just 16 per cent of TV appearances on the subject being by women. Additionally, none of the ten individuals who have received the most press coverage on the topic is a woman.

Harman's intervention comes amidst increasing concerns that many if not all of the new “metro mayors” elected from next year will be men. Despite Greater Manchester having an equal number of male and female Labour MPs, the current candidates for the Labour nomination for the new Manchester mayoralty are all men. Luciana Berger, the Shadow Minister for mental health, is reportedly considering running to be Labour’s candidate for mayor of the Liverpool city region, but will face strong competition from incumbent mayor Joe Anderson and fellow MP Steve Rotheram.

Last week, Harriet Harman tweeted her hope that some of the new mayors would be women.  

Henry Zeffman writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2015.