Tag Archives: diversity

Opinion: Getting diverse in the arts

Last month, I was invited by my friend Danny Lee  Wynter to an event he had organised at the National Theatre called Act for Change. It’s a movement that was set up in response to a TV Advert in 2014 which trailed the upcoming season of TV but failed to feature a single BAME performer or disabled artist. AfC campaigns on a platform that the arts are for everyone, regardless of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, age or disability, and they should reflect the societies we live in. Sound familiar to problems in any other places of work?

The event at the National was wonderful, eye opening and angry all in different measures. Chaired by Shami Chakrabati with a host of interesting voices on the panel including the actor Adrian Lester who told a wonderful story about his daughter commenting on the lack of diversity among Hobbits whilst they watched together the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He tried to reason with her until she pointed out an exact passage in Tolkein’s books in which the hobbits are described as being dark skinned which had just been ignored in the casting process.

I think Phyllida Lloyd summed the situation up best in the event when she answered a question by saying:

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Lib Dem Leadership: Farron and Lamb in diversity hustings

Diversity Hustings GlasgowIn a normal election, hustings can be a great place to spot key differences between candidates and find where they stand on various areas of policy. Internally, however, there’s often a lot of overlap between the candidates’ values and hustings can become a little ‘same old, same old’. For this reason, Scottish Lib Dem Women teamed up with Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats, Liberal Youth Scotland, and LGBT+ to organise an event in Scotland that wasn’t about policy but was about one specific area instead: diversity, both within and outwith the party.

This is a topic seen far too often as a fringe issue or a minor problem, so it was great to have a full two-hour discussion that allowed us to touch on a great number of areas under the umbrella of diversity. There was a lot of interest in the event so we streamed it online and also took questions through Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Daisy Cooper writes… Building a diverse party: my challenge to leadership candidates

Last year, I ran for Party President on a platform of party reform, with a focus on diversity. Now that all eight of our remaining MPs are white, middle-aged, middle class men, that reform agenda is even more important than before.

I’m asking both declared leadership candidates – Tim Farron and Norman Lamb – whether and to what extent they will commit to these achievable measures.

1. Will you promise to take a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour, insisting that all elected representatives and everyone in your team has a “responsibility to act” on any and all anecdotal and substantive evidence that reaches them?

2. Will you promise to appoint at least one recognised senior Disability Activist, as a spokesperson for the party (possibly as a Peer)? This person may well be required to speak out against Tory cuts that could impact disproportionately on disabled people.

3. Will you promise to support a motion to Conference to ring-fence money to support the election of at least one BAME candidate to Parliament in 2020, or similar ideas towards the same goal?

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Opinion: An embarrassing lack of diversity

The lack of Black and Asian members at federal conference was depressing and embarrassing.

Glasgow was the most racially undiverse Lib Dem conference since I joined in 2006. Every TV scan of the audience showed a sea of white faces, even for equality debates. The day I went was no different.

The message it sent Britain was that we are not a party that reflects modern multicultural society, and therefore probably don’t care much for it.

To add insult, the Federal Executive (FE) proposed committee quotas for women while ignoring BAME and other under-represented groups.

Under this system the three BAME men would all have lost their places to, in all probability, white women. The only ethnic minority left would be Pauline Pearce on Federal Conference Committee (FCC).

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The big difference between what Olly Grender said and what the Mirror said she said

The Mirror ran a big splash yesterday saying that Liberal Democrat peer Olly Grender was complaining that her House of Lords allowance is insufficient. “We struggle to get by on £300 per day tax free allowance” screams the headline.

If you actually look at the substance of the story, there is absolutely nothing to substantiate  that total misrepresentation of what she was saying. They even run a little poll asking if you could get by on £300 tax free.

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Opinion: Kippers’ squeals show we are a more liberal country

UKIP logoPoor judgment: that’s the reason UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson has given for referring to a Thai-born supporter as “ting tong from somewhere”. I was “completely tired out”: that’s how Farage explained his statement during the European election campaign that he’d be concerned if Romanians moved in next door. Excuses, excuses.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever consider whether or not to use a racial epithet. I don’t think to myself, on balance I judge it right to refer to that person as …

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Cambridge Liberal Democrat Sarah Brown up for a National Diversity Award

Sarah_Brown_(politician)Voting is currently underway for the National Diversity Awards 2014. These annual awards, whose headline sponsors are Microsoft and The Guardian, are a celebration of those in the UK who have shown an outstanding devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion.

This year I nominated fellow Lib Dem Sarah Brown for the LGBT Positive Role Model Award. Sarah has just ended a term as a Cambridge City Councillor and headed up their leisure and community services as the councillor in charge. She was one of the only openly trans elected …

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Farron calls for better sex education to protect children from inappropriate material

It’s not often these days that the comments underneath a newspaper’s online article are supportive of the Liberal Democrats. However, virtually every commenter in this Independent article backed the party’s stand on filters which are aimed at restricting access to content deemed in appropriate for children but in reality block a great deal more. Since they were activated, we’ve reported that they’ve blocked access to the LGBT+ Lib  Dems’ section of the Liberal Democrats’ website and the site of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow.

Tim Farron’s and Julian Huppert’s motion to Spring Conference on a Digital Bill of …

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Porn filters block cathedral website, including invite to crib service

Since BT activated its porn filters, we’ve seen many examples of perfectly acceptable sites being blocked. Alisdair Calder McGregor reported last week that the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats site, hardly a den of debauchery, had fallen victim to BT’s algorithims.

The latest, and best example to date in my view is the blocking of Glasgow’s St Mary’s Cathedral website and the personal blog of its Provost, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, as he told us on Twitter.

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Porn blocking comes in… and blocks the LGBT+LD website as porn

As many readers will remember, during the debate on motion F17 at Autumn Conference many speeches were made by technically inclined LibDem members describing how the proposed porn blocks would not work, and in particular would misclassify and block legitimate websites as containing pornographic content.

Just in case we needed confirmation that we were right, TalkTalk have provided it… by classifying the LGBT+LD portion of the party website as porn. In addition, the website of LGBT charity “London Friend” has been blocked. These are not isolated incidents. Wired has a more in-depth …

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Opinion: Clegg’s big fat gypsy blunder

Once a week I stay with a relative in South London. I am not talking here about Nick Clegg’s South London (a Putney, Wimbledon or Clapham) but about a very different South London – the border between Camberwell and Peckham. The Guardian-reading euphemism would be that Camberwell and Peckham are “vibrant and diverse” places. The upshot of some of that diversity is that at all times of the night people hang around chatting in the street, especially in the summer. In a ground floor flat late at night it sometimes feels a bit intimidating. I have never talked about this …

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Candidate news for those with disabilities

As some of our readers may already be aware, the Government has set up the Access to Elected Office Fund, as part of its Access to Elected Office Strategy, to help pay the disability-related costs that disabled people standing for elected office might face. The fund is open to all disabled people who wish to be selected as a candidate in an election, or who have already been selected and are standing in an election.

Candidates may apply for money from the fund to meet the costs of disability-related support needed to stand for elected office, e.g. costs related to …

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Next week in the Lords: 8-11 January

Whilst rumours of a list of new Peers swirls around the Palace of Westminster, the Lords returns to work on Tuesday, and a somewhat lop-sided week continues through to Friday in order to fit in the postponed debate on Leveson.
Never let it be said though that the Lords needs a gentle warm-up before asking the difficult questions. Tuesday sees oral questions on airport capacity in London, housebuilding in South East England and the effect of the ‘fiscal cliff’ solution on the UK economy, before the Growth and Infrastructure …

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Positive action for women on Westminster shortlists

The English Candidates Committee (ECC) has decided to retain positive action measures to address the under-representation of women in the Parliamentary Party.

Clause 24 in the Westminster Rules for Selection of Parliamentary Candidates stipulates that where the ECC has decided to adopt positive action arrangements which affect a shortlist, those arrangements shall be observed by the Returning Officer and shortlisting committee as if they were contained in this Rule.

The provision is that:

In strategic seats and aspiring strategic seats (those that have ‘opted up’ to the full selection process):

    a shortlist of three candidates must contain a minimum of one woman
    a shortlist of

Posted in News, Party policy and internal matters and Selection news | Also tagged and | 35 Comments

Opinion: the Government’s new integration strategy – when are we going to learn?

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recently published and launched its new integration strategy – “Creating the Conditions for Integration”. Following discussions with many concerned Lib Dem party members and feedback from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community organisations involved in race equality work, I am now more convinced than ever that this document does little to address the persistent racial inequalities that exist across the nation. The Government for their part are trumpeting this publication as equivalent to a race equality strategy – although one which has diminishing credibility within BAME communities up and down the …

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Opinion: Lib Dem Cabinet Ministers – surely we can do better than this?

When the great British public look at their leaders, what do they think? In the unlikely event it’s anything other than ‘what have we done?’, it’s probably indifference or, occasionally, murder. The current crop of Lib Dem Cabinet Ministers do nothing to dispel these opinions. Chris Huhne’s sadly justified resignation provided an opportunity to change our public image for the better. This opportunity was not taken.

As has been pointed out, Ed Davey’s appointment as Huhne’s replacement has removed a ‘big beast’ from Cabinet: someone who can stand up for a broader range of party opinion. However, his appointment …

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The fallout from Chris Huhne’s resignation

I’ve been busy with the media yesterday and today giving my take on Chris Huhne’s resignation, so here are the two main highlights if you missed them:

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Lynne Featherstone MP writes… We do not just elect individuals, we elect people to be members of a team

Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone writes a monthly column for one of her local newspapers. Here is the latest edition, looking at Parliamentary representation.

Our Parliament has come a long way in recent years. In fact, watching ‘The Iron Lady’ with Margaret Thatcher sticking out like a blue female sore thumb amongst the total male greyness of the then chamber – it reminded me of how recently in history this establishment was nearly all male.

However, despite real progress, it is still nowhere near reflecting the percentage of women in the country – and that is without even starting to talk about …

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The Lib Dem Candidates Leadership Programme – a participant’s view

Last weekend marked the official start of the Candidate Leadership Programme, with a residential training weekend in Greenwich. For many, this Programme marks an important shift in thinking to improve the diversity of our Parliamentary Party. I write this piece to give a participant’s point of view.

Despite efforts for years to get candidates from diverse backgrounds to become approved, sadly, and not without great effort on behalf of organisations such as the Campaign for Gender Balance (CGB), the result did not show in terms of elected Parliamentarians.

The Leadership Programme is designed to focus on the steps post-approval and selection, to …

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The Leadership Programme: the first 11

The all-member Liberal Democrat News currently in the post to party members includes this update on the party’s Leadership Programme, designed to support candidates from under-represented groups:

Of the first 11 candidates, five are women, three from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, three have disabilities. There is one LGBT candidate and five of the 11 come from low socio-economic backgrounds … we have four candidates on the Programme so far who are under 30.

The scheme is due to expand to support at least 30 people.

You can get a subscription to receive each weekly edition of Liberal Democrat News here.

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Opinion: Tackling the myths about that Scottish Diversity motion

I’ve seen a few comments online over the past few days insinuating that the Scottish Liberal Democrats don’t care about improving diversity in the wake of a motion passed at the recent Scottish Conference after a passionate debate and a protracted and complex series of votes.

I want to correct some myths about what happened. Scottish Women Liberal Democrats (SWLD) put forward a motion containing a wide ranging series of measures. Most of these were uncontroversial. Who can argue with making sure that the concerns of women are hardwired into the policy process?

The first main points of contention were over the …

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Opinion: Why the Lib Dems need all-women shortlists

In his Lib Dem Voice piece “Too male and too pale” – Why shortlists and the Leadership Programme are not the answer, Paul Head states that he is totally opposed to all-women shortlists (AWS) because they ‘ignore the real problem’ that this reflects in the party as a whole; and that we need to engage more with women and BAME people on a grassroots level and change from below.

This is a sensible argument, and is something that we should strive for. However, I believe that there is a place for AWS in the Liberal Democrats, despite the fact that …

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The Independent View: Evidence that candidates make a difference

The Liberal Democrats in England took an important step in 2007 when they decided to review the approval process for parliamentary candidates. The aim was to develop a modern system capable of identifying, supporting and developing the best possible political talent in order to ensure the Party could field candidates with the qualities, skills and values needed to build public support and win seats.

Although change can take a long time in politics, four years on it is hard not to be impressed at what the Party has achieved.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Can you guess who said what?

Take two people: one a successful female businesswoman and one a male Tory MP.

Then take two public statements: one calling female Cabinet members “an ugly bunch” and “I could not look at them”; the other calling for companies to be better at ending the male dominance of the boardroom.

Who do you think would have said which…?

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Gender balance amongst the Liberal Democrats: some evidence

Over the weekend, Paul Head criticised the party’s Leadership Programme, saying,

While the Candidate Leadership Programme seems like a good idea, giving candidates from underrepresented groups the support and training they need to go on and, hopefully, become MPs, I believe it is destined to failure for the same reasons that shortlists are not the answer.

They both ignore the real problem.

Shortlists in particular are a quick-fix, tinkering round the edges, top-down attempt to create the façade that we are a party that is representative of the whole country. The truth is we aren’t. A quick look around the conference hall and

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Opinion: “Too male and too pale” – Why shortlists and the Leadership Programme are not the answer

The problem of our Parliamentary Party being “too male and too pale” was brought up again at conference and I couldn’t help leaving with the feeling that we are edging towards another fight over whether we should introduce more proactive methods to help combat the chronic under representation of women and ethnic minorities among our MPs.

I was most struck when Paddy Ashdown, during the Guardian debate, seemed to shift from his previously held position and advocate the introduction of shortlists or “zipping” if the current leadership programme failed to make any significant impact.

I am completely opposed to the introduction …

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Project: Lib Dems coming together, to make politics better

Everyone in politics likes to talk about change, none more so than the Lib Dems (who can forget that fabulous piece of election music…) but do we really practise what we preach? In areas such as diversity, campaigning, and our overall political role, we are frequently found to be behind the times. Our party can still say one thing at one end of a road, and another thing at the other end. Shamefully, we also still have woefully few female MPs, and not a single BME MP.

It’s all well and good discussing our failings, but it is much more …

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Two Conservative MPs call for mandatory gender quotas for company boards

As the Daily Telegraph reports of the much touted book by Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi:

Sanctions are also suggested against non-executive directors of failed companies. The authors also oppose non-executives at systemically-important banks having other board roles and also want the law changed so directors of financial institutions that require recourse to public funds to prevent bankruptcy are legally barred from joining the board at other companies. They also want to tackle the cult of the CEO by encouraging the City to appoint co-chief executives.

“There’s this idea that the CEO is so revered that it’s very difficult ever for

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Baroness Brinton writes: Towards a more diverse Parliamentary Party

Last year, Ros Scott, Nick Clegg and the Federal Executive (FE) asked me to conduct a review of issues relating to the role of Parliamentary candidates. Key to this review was how the Party will increase the diversity of its candidates standing in the 2015 General Election, and getting them elected.

The first point to make is that we made some real steps forward in selecting more women and BAME candidates in the last electoral cycle despite the disappointing results – the number of our seats went backwards, so making any progress in terms of representation was very difficult. The intense work by many in the party over the last few years has meant that there was significant progress in the lead up to the 2010 election: 50% of new candidates in held seats were women, and only just slightly lower in priority seats. Some excellent BAME candidates were selected (the highest number over the three main parties), but again, without electoral success. Although the fact that there no ‘safe’ seats in the Liberal Democrats (unlike Labour and the Conservatives) means that we cannot use some of the mechanisms used by the other Parties, we should absolutely not be complacent – we will have to work even harder, and invest more time, energy and resources than we have in recent years to make sure that our parliamentary parties reflect Britain in the future.

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You! Yes, you! Ever thought about being a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate?

At March’s Federal Conference, a motion was passed setting up the new Candidate Leadership Programme, designed specifically to identify and develop candidates from currently under-represented groups (i.e. everyone other than white men).

Candidates will be given structured support, development and training all the way through to the General Election, and it is particularly aimed at those wanting to take part in competitive seat selections. Further information and application packs will be available from late June.

So, what’s the hurry, I hear you ask? The catch is, you’ve got to be an approved candidate to get a place, and if you aren’t …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters and Selection news | Also tagged | 26 Comments

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