Tag Archives: all-women shortlists

Shortlists and Privilege

On Sunday, Conference voted for all-women shortlists. As part of the debate, I gave a speech outlining how my experience showed that lots of men simply aren’t aware of the privilege they have. I was surprised that this speech would immediately precede the rare event of a leader’s speech in a debate. Tim – I hope I set them up all right for you!

For the first 40 years of my life I lived as male. Transitioning to female in 2004, and starting my own software company at the same time, showed me what I had anticipated – that I had to work much harder to be treated as worth listening to. It didn’t come as a shock to me, as I’d observed this since childhood – in fact, it was one of the reasons I used to delay transition. But I know other trans women who have been surprised by this side-effect.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

The Liberal Democrats have a diversity problem

liberalyouth2015I will say it again: the Liberal Democrats have a diversity problem. We are “too male and too pale” – and too straight, and too able-bodied. But All-Women Shortlists are not the only solution to this, and this is why Liberal Youth Youth (backed by our own policy, as passed at our Youth Conference) are proposing an amendment against them. We are under no illusions about the state of our party. Like those that proposed the motion in the first place, we want to be better.

However, we believe that All-Women Shortlists do not tackle the root of our diversity problem. They throw all our energy at papering over the cracks, without pausing to wonder why women aren’t putting themselves forward. We, as a party, are full of absolutely incredible women.  Are we seriously suggesting that the only reason we don’t have 650 female Parliamentary Candidates is because they won’t compete with men for a selection, or that our party is so unbearably sexist that they’ll only vote for a woman if they’re given no other choice?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments

Casual sexism undermines the drive for gender balance

“Bright, intelligent and brave” those are the words that Willie Rennie used to describe me in his speech to Conference. My direct messages on twitter were somewhat different. I had to disable the function to receive messages from anyone but my followers – but that didn’t stop those who already followed me. One man even suggested I’d made up the story for the attention. Because that’s all women’s experiences are to some men. Nothing but a ploy to get attention from men in any form of power.

The same people cry out “We need more women in politics but in a fair way and we need a meritocracy” and “We don’t need positive action, we need to encourage more women to put themselves forward”.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 54 Comments

Jo Swinson: Why I now back all women shortlists

12496325_10207909151261642_614223791405517749_oBelow are the two speeches Jo Swinson made to Scottish Conference yesterday. The Diversity Debate took place in two halves. The first was on a constitutional amendment which would allow the Scottish Party to implement arrangements on gender balance which had been approved by conference. One amendment to that was submitted, and supported by the movers, changing gender balance to the much wider “diversity”. The risk of such an approach was that a 2/3 majority was needed for it to pass, but the working group had been advised that a constitutional amendment was vital to enable any new arrangements to be implemented.

It’s worth pointing out that in the intervening period, Jo has done so much to encourage and support women candidates, running training events and supporting so many as they embarked on selection campaigns.

Here is her speech proposing the constitutional amendment:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

The counter bias proposed in the All Women Shortlist motion will not in itself be enough to achieve balance

Spring Conference Agenda 2016The membership of the Liberal Democrats is almost 50% male and 50% female (I say almost because we have a number of members who are non-binary (they do not define as male or female) and I will say up front that when I refer to “all women shortlists” this does not mean I am excluding these non-binary candidates, I want and would strongly encourage them to seek selection.

The Liberal Democrats also instinctively seek parity between men and women (it is noticeable that not one man felt he could do a better job than the excellent women candidates who stood for election as Party President in 2014.  This was not out of some arranged plot visited upon us from Lib Dem HQ, it was simply a conclusion that we all reached of our own volition.

Why then can we not achieve gender balance in our parliamentary candidates by the same gut instinct?  Well actually we want to but there is disagreement as to how we go about it.

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

So what’s the evidence?

 

Can anyone think of a worse time to deliberately put weaker candidates into our winnable parliamentary seats? I refer to the All Women Shortlists (AWS) proposal being put to the York conference. Now I can hear the howls of protest, “women are NOT weaker candidates”. Indeed, that’s why this measure is totally unnecessary.

We all want to see more women in the parliamentary party and agree that there is a real problem. However AWS are only a solution if women are not being selected by Local Parties.

So what’s the evidence? Ten MPs stood down in 2015 (including nine men). Six women and four men were selected to replace them. The men included Redcar where no women applied. When the man dropped out in Brent Central he too was replaced by a woman. Looking at the next tranche of target, or recently held, seats the list was dominated by excellent female candidates; Oxford East, Chesterfield, Camborne, Guildford, Winchester, Harrogate, Hereford, Watford, Hull East etc.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 82 Comments

Willie Rennie backs all women shortlists

Willie Rennie has announced that he supports the use of all women shortlists and quotas to improve the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ appalling record on gender balance. He is to lead a group which will draw up specific proposals for the 2019 European, 2020 Westminster and 2021 Holyrood elections.

The Scottish Party looked on in shock when members in the North East did not place highly effective Justice Spokesperson at the top of the list when it was selected at the end of last year. Since then, and particularly following the General Election, there have been strong calls for much stronger action on gender balance. Willie has consulted widely within the party and he announced his plans at the Scottish Party’s and Scottish Liberal Democrat Women’s Everyday Sexism Open Mic event in Edinburgh yesterday.

The Working Group to be led by Willie will consider all options including:

•         All women shortlists

•         Making gender a part of the party’s electoral strategy

•         Quota systems

Willie said:

I have lost patience with the current system and its inability to ensure proper representation of women.  It is now time to take the necessary action to deliver change.

A fresh start for the Liberal Democrats requires us to change.  We need to be more reflective of the people we seek to represent and to perform at our best we need to deploy our best people to make the case for our cause.

Despite an abundance of talented women the party has been unable to put enough in positions to get elected.   It is difficult to make the case for opportunity for everyone when only one of our parliamentarians is a woman.

Twenty years ago my party agreed in the Constitutional Convention to work towards a gender balance in our Scottish Parliamentary representation. Yet since the Scottish Parliament was created we have elected no more than two women at the four elections to Holyrood.   I determined to finally deliver the commitment made to the Constitutional Convention.

Encouragement and organisational support is simply insufficient to overcome the barriers to electing women.

That is why I will lead a working group to finalise proposals to put to the Spring Conference of the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will break down those barriers and increase the representation of women Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

It is my intention that the new arrangements will be in place for the European Election in 2019 and will also apply to the 2020 General Election and 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 57 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKirsten Johnson 17th Aug - 2:32pm
    Hi all, thank you for engaging and reading. Simon, I have just posted info on the committee structure question on the previous blog. I am...
  • User AvatarKirsten Johnson 17th Aug - 2:27pm
    Thank you all for reading. Simon, sorry for the delay in replying but I have been travelling and just picked this up. Here is the...
  • User AvatarMichael 17th Aug - 1:50pm
    The referendum came at a time when many British people had been buffeted by a harsh rainstorm of economic recession, lower wages and a seeming...
  • User AvatarPalehorse 17th Aug - 1:20pm
    "what is the common ground between ignorance and knowledge?" I think these are the words prove that our nation is split irrevocably and the wound...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 17th Aug - 1:16pm
    I do not like the denigration of the Democrats word, here above , in comments. Great and very needed parties we would be in throughout...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 17th Aug - 1:06pm
    A needed level of both enthusiasm and common sense from Catherine and Katharine, if the referendum on any deal is abandoned this party has lost...