Author Archives: Rob Parsons

Opinion: Time to consider all-women shortlists?

I find myself changing my mind on the subject of all-women shortlists. I’ve always been somewhere between agnostic and sceptical on the basis that it’s fairer to have open candidacies in which the best person gets chosen. If the playing ground needs to be levelled, it is best to do it in training and support rather than fixing the rules for appointments. I based this partly on my now shaken belief that, whatever happens in the other parties, the Lib Dems are nice, our hearts are in the right place, so self evidently good choices will be made.

But three things have shaken that belief. Firstly the Rennard affair, and not just the issue itself but the number of people vigorously defending the status quo; secondly, the endemic sexism still visible in society at large, catalogued in visceral detail at Everyday Sexism; and thirdly, the two separate reports published recently on the shape of the elite in our society – still overwhelmingly male. Patriarchy remains alive and in rude good health, in the party as well as in society at large. The playing field remains permanently tilted against women (as well as against BAME people), and the only way in which we can be fair about that situation is to tilt it back. And niceness won’t cut it. All women shortlisting seems a crude tool but I know of no better one at the moment.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 58 Comments

Opinion: TTIP: What could possibly go wrong?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA to allow for freer trade between the two. We received an upbeat assessment of its progress and potential from Nick Thornsby a couple of weeks ago. It is currently Liberal Democrat policy to support it, but I have serious reservations about whether we are doing either liberalism or democracy any favours in this instance.

A trade agreement that reduced barriers and increased access to markets, thus lowering prices for customers, and increasing quality would be a great thing. However, this is not …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 31 Comments

Opinion: The male voice on Female Genital Mutilation

Please note that the second paragraph of this article contains some graphic details of the procedure of FGM which some people might find distressing.

I’m very glad to see Liberal Democrats at the forefront of the drive to rid this country and the world of female genital mutilation (FGM), one of the most horrible expressions of male power over the female. The debate about it, around the world, as well as in this country, is often blurred by comparisons with male circumcision, which many people also campaign against actively (and in my view rightly). When the topic of FGM comes …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 76 Comments

Opinion: Managing the NHS

nhs sign lrgI agree with Norman Tebbit. There, I’ve said it. The antique rottweiler was writing in the Telegraph in response to a number of intemperate comments made on another column about the service received from staff at the NHS. He said, among other things, “when things go wrong, as they have often done in the NHS, I believe it is right to blame the officers, especially the more senior ones, rather than the troops”. I agree with him whole heartedly on that point, though not on …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Opinion: 2013’s banana skin?

Banana skin - Some rights reserved by purplemattfishThe LibDem Voice end of year survey gives us, as usual, much food for thought.

Net approval of the coalition’s record is down to 14% from 41% a year before. “Three big hits seem to have been responsible: first, the row over the NHS Bill; secondly, the omnishambolic March budget; and thirdly, the collapse of Lords reform”.

What issues might derail us this year? One is slowly poisoning our society, and with it the claims of the Liberal Democrats to be a party of fairness.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 37 Comments



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    Hywel 23rd Oct '14 - 8:14pm The NHS needs an extra £8bn a year according to the five year plan. The Lib Dems are proposing...
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    Adam, This is a daft idea, the LibDems have made many sacrifices on this issue by refusing to listen to the electorate, therefore helping to...
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    Stephen Donnelly I was so ignorant I had never heard of The Turing Test. Good definition here -- http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test Now I see what you mean!!!
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