THOSE of us who believe that our parliaments would work better if they were more diverse often come across the same argument against the idea.

It goes like this.

“I don’t care what’s between your legs or what colour you are, it should be about who is the best person for the job. If we have quotas to ensure that traditionally underrepresented groups are selected to stand for election, then how can we be certain that they got there on merit?”

The “merit” argument is only logical if you believe that women, people from minority-ethic backgrounds, working-class people and people with disabilities are somehow unsuited to public life.

Or, to put it another way, it only works if you believe that the demographic that is vastly overrepresented – white, privately educated men – is inherently more qualified than everybody else.

We could debate the ins and outs of this all day or instead I could present to you, Exhibit A: Ben Bradley.

If you haven’t heard of Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield then, lucky you.

Allow me to guide you through some of his greatest hits because it might jog a memory you have long buried, albeit for good reason.

Mr Bradley has only been an MP for three years but, to give credit where it is due, he has managed to fit more gaffes in during that time than most Cabinet ministers do over decades of public service.

Shortly after he was elected, Mr Bradley was criticised for a 2012 blog post he wrote in support of Iain Duncan Smith’s cuts to benefits. In it, he said the country would soon be drowning in a “vast sea of unemployed wasters” if out-of-work parents had large families, helpfully pointing out that “vasectomies are free”.

He later apologised for his comments, which he attributed to youthful immaturity.

It was an older, but no wiser, Ben Bradley that in 2018 accused Jeremy Corbyn of “selling British secrets to communist spies”. After a legal threat from Corbyn, he issued a full apology and paid Corbyn’s legal fees.

Fast forward to October this year and Ben Bradley hit the headlines again. His approach to negative headlines seems to be similar to mine when I’m trying to be healthy but accidentally eat a whole packet of biscuits: I’ve f*cked up anyway, might as well make it count.

The free school meals row attracted fierce debate. On one side you had the inspirational Marcus Rashford saying feeding children is good and on the other was a group of rotund Tories making the case for “well actually…”.

You can guess which side Bad Ben came down on. On balance, he said that while feeding kids was probably okay, the UK Government really couldn’t risk giving out free school meal vouchers during the holidays as to do so would be to effectively hand money to “brothels and drug dealers”.

This led to a barrage of replies to Bradley on Twitter which asked if he knew a drug dealer that would give a good rate on 1kg of dried pasta in exchange for some weed.

Which brings us to this week, where Ben Bradley was speaking in the International Men’s Day debate at Westminster. To (genuinely, this time) give Mr Bradley his due, over the course of his speech he did touch upon some important issues affecting men today.

Men’s mental health isn’t given the attention it deserves. The biggest cause of death in men aged under 45 is suicide. That is a figure which demands urgent action, especially since men are less likely to access mental health therapies than women are.

In his speech, Ben Bradley, along with other MPs, spoke of the need to address this growing crisis.

Yet for whatever reason, he muddled those reasonable points with an unnecessary conflation between men’s rights and women’s rights. As though addressing women’s inequality of safety, opportunity and pay somehow undermines or undervalues the real struggles that men face.

He complained that men aren’t allowed to “open a door for a lady” anymore, and said that women have decided that “wanting to be a man’s man, wanting to go down to the football at the weekend and have some banter with the lads” is sexist.

I wasn’t aware that was the new rule. Maybe I missed the meeting where it was decided. Ben Bradley also spoke about the challenges facing working-class men in particular.

His words would carry more weight if he didn’t have previous for demonising and ridiculing the very men he was holding up as an example of why women’s equality had gone too far.

Rather than strawman arguments about whether “banter” is now bullying, he could have perhaps spoken about the gender stereotypes that harm boys. How the expectation that men must be strong, tough providers puts an unbearable pressure on them.

He could have spoken about how poverty is a driver of inequality and poor mental health.

It’s not surprising that he didn’t say any of that. If he had, he would have also had to acknowledge the role his party has played in exacerbating the very issues that he blames on women having too much equality.