CAST your mind back to August.

It may seem ages ago in this unsettling world where an hour is a long time in politics.

But it was only last month that Green MP Caroline Lucas suggested an all-female approach to break the Brexit deadlock. She proposed an alternative, emergency cabinet of national unity of women-only MPs to help bring a different perspective in order to stop the catastrophe of a No-Deal Brexit.

Her suggestion was met with derision from all the usual suspects of the UK’s cynical political and media universe, as well as some more progressive voices too, for it’s somewhat naïve and arguably sexist approach. In the end, Lucas had to back down, not just for her over-hasty plan but for her neglect in including any BAME nominees in her list of possible female MPs.

Looking back, I think people over-reacted to the Lucas idea. Regardless of its obvious flaw and its unworkable nature, it was a decent attempt to find a new dynamic to swing the Brexitometer out of the red zone. After all, our present Boys’ Own Brexit may be spiffing fun and games but it ain’t actually working out all that well.

But for me, as a former MP and the first and, as yet, only ever Scottish female BAME one, it’s not about whether a women-only government would be better at the big decisions, or that women are less tribal or better at reaching consensus, or even better at compromise than men. It’s more about being part of the debate and not shut out. It’s about representation, having a voice, a seat at the table, an equal opportunity to get it right or wrong in public life, just as our male colleagues do.

There are plenty of female MPs who haven’t risen to the occasion – Theresa May drifted aimlessly into a Brexit fiasco. There are also some who cause division and fear or who just pull up the ladder behind them – step forward Priti Patel. Thankfully there are more examples of women in politics who create positive change and lead with distinction and honour. On the flip side it is the overwhelming preponderance of middle-aged white men, mostly alpha males with elite backgrounds, who have brought us to the very brink of a Brexit crash-out.

It is even whispered in Westminster these days that Tory MPs, seeing the wreckage of their party run aground on the hard rocks of testosterone, are wistfully longing for the halcyon days of Theresa May! Indeed, this is kind of why Lucas came up with her suggestion in the first place.

The National: suggested an all-female approach to break the Brexit deadlocksuggested an all-female approach to break the Brexit deadlock

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So, here’s the thing – it seems obvious to me that any group which features just one kind of voice cannot do its job properly. What’s most wrong about public life and our political institutions is absence, the absence of certain voices from wider society.

The key phrases here are “diversity of opinion” and “balance of power”. Without women being included in the conversation, or BAME women and men, the LGBTI community, disabled people, the elderly and the young, the disadvantaged and vulnerable, we just won’t get it right for our constituents.

How often do we hear the question being popped to some unsuspecting male minister on the price of a litre of milk? And how often do they get it wrong, whining that it is an unfair or trick question?

I can tell you right here that most women will be able to tell you the price of milk because of the unfair division of domestic labour, and that those on benefits, the elderly and the working poor would certainly be able to tell you where you could buy the cheapest groceries in town.

It’s this grounded perspective that is lost when our politics under-represents the population in terms of gender, ethnicity or working status.

This imbalance, this inequality, must change. It is campaigns like Scotland’s Women Stand which are driving this change by encouraging greater participation by women in politics.

It was uplifting to contribute to their very positive event this past weekend at Holyrood, with women from across Scotland coming together to explore their path towards political office and how to build a supportive network to help combat the particular obstacles and challenges faced by so many.

With a host of talented female speakers, I was fortunate enough to facilitate sessions and talk to women not just about becoming an MP or MSP, but how to work together to encourage more BAME voices to come forward.

It seems unbelievable that in the 20 years since Holyrood convened, our own Scottish Parliament has never had a single female BAME parliamentarian.

But I am completely committed to change this and help other Muslim and minority women break through as I did, all too briefly, at Westminster.

Talat Yaqoob, founder and director of the Women 50:50 campaign, put it succinctly at this event – “diversity makes for better decisions”. It’s not about one group being better than another when it comes to implementing policy change or unblocking political stalemate, it’s about cross-party, cross-society co-operation.

It’s about ensuring everyone is heard, that everyone in Scotland can look at our parliament and say, that looks like me. It’s a no-brainer really but, as history shows, sometimes the most obvious injustices and inequalities are the ones that take the biggest effort to shift. We need to change it together and we need to change it now.