Tag Archives: gender balance

Are the Liberal Democrats any closer to embracing all-women shortlists?

Womens shortlistsIt’s nearly 31 years since I joined the SDP. When I was first involved, a hot topic of conversation was how to improve the representation of women in the House of Commons. At that point, there were just 23 female MPs, or 3.5% of the total.  We are still having these discussions today. Now there are 22%, but the total has only risen by 4% in the last 3 elections. The biggest leap we have ever had came in 1997 when the numbers doubled from 60-120, with more than half …

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Jenny Willott to become the first female Liberal Democrat minister to attend Cabinet

jenny willottThere are many people in the party who would like to see the Liberal Democrats with at least one female Cabinet Minister on a permanent basis. There are plenty strong candidates, not least Jenny Willott and Jo Swinson.

We will have to wait a little longer for that, but this week, Jenny Willott will be there to make a presentation on Coalition efforts to close the gender pay gap. She will also attend future meetings when issues affecting women are discussed.  The Independent has the story:

In her new role secured

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Vince Cable “considers all female shortlists for city firms.” Really?

Yesterday’s Guardian ran a story which said that Vince Cable was considering all female shortlists for the boards of FTSE companies.

That headline was  at this stage over-egging that particular pudding. All he is doing is asking the Equality and Human Rights Commission to advise whether such a move would be legal.

That was in fact the eighth of ten recommendations in a report by Charlotte Sweeney who has worked has head of diversity for top banks, which reviewed the effectiveness of the Government’s voluntary code for city headhunters. It’s worth having a look at the whole report which is available …

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LibLink: David Heath: Electorate has casting vote on number of female MPs

Just two weeks after the excellent Sarah Yong was selected to fight his Somerton and Frome constituency next year, retiring MP David Heath has been writing in the Frome Standard about the need for more women in Parliament.

He will be slightly red-faced to have under-estimated even our lowly number of women in the MPs, saying we have five, rather than seven, but that doesn’t undermine the premise of his piece.

But I think there is still an issue for all political parties in ensuring that parliament better reflects the make-up of the country at large. Instead, there is a huge

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Women must stop stepping into the political shoes of men

It’s a cute piece of research for two reasons. It sits comfortably with what so many of us think, even if we don’t say it out loud. Yet it challenges every one of us.

University of Pennsylvania researchers have shown that women’s brains are wired from left to right – that’s linking logic with intuition. In men, the neural connections go from front to back. That strengthens their spatial and motor skills. This research suggests that those age old stereotypes are true. Overall men are better at reading maps and being single-minded when tackling a problem. Women are in general …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 47 Comments

Is Nick Clegg looking at all-women shortlists for 2020?

From today’s Independent:

Nick Clegg is planning to introduce all-women shortlists for the Liberal Democrats if not enough female candidates are selected in winnable seats in 2015.

The radical policy change, which will upset many activists who believe it would go against the party’s constitution, would be introduced in the next Parliament as many candidates have already been selected for the election in 18 months’ time.

Only 12 per cent of Lib Dem MPs are women, and there are none at all from ethnic minorities. Lib Dem sources said a number of “excellent” female and ethnic minority candidates have already been selected

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 43 Comments

Opinion: 20 years of going nowhere, Liberal Democrat gender balance in council elections

Twenty years of progress, followed by twenty years of stalling. That’s the overall picture of Liberal Democrat (and before that Alliance / Liberal Party) progress towards gender equality at local government elections, whether measured in terms of candidates or people elected.

Looking at local elections in England, a mere 20% of the Liberal Party’s candidates were female in 1973 and the figure was even lower, 18%, amongst those elected. By 1991 both figures had risen to 34%. Since then, however, the figures have bounced up and down around a long-term flat trend, with both hitting 30% in the latest figures for …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Gender quotas get legal backing in Ireland

Interesting news from Ireland on the long-running question of male dominance of elected Parliamentary posts:

GENDER QUOTAS are set to become law after the Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Bill 2011 passed all stages in the Dáil yesterday.

The legislation, which has yet to be signed by the President, will halve State funding to parties unless 30 per cent of their candidates at the next general election are women. This figure will rise to 40 per cent at subsequent general elections…

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

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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Gender Equality and MPs – is our performance as bad as it looks?

I am very unhappy with the number of female Lib Dem MPs. 7 out of 57 is not good enough and we need to improve. The leadership programme which assists those from underrepresented groups to become candidates will hopefully help.

7/57 = 12.3%. So, less than an eighth of our MPs are women. The Conservatives have 48/307 = 15.6%, Labour 81/258 = 31.4%. Activists from the two other parties have pointed this out to me on numerous occasions. They are right to. It is embarrassing. We definitely need more female candidates. In 2010 we only had 134 (21.3%). The Conservatives had …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 44 Comments

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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Opinion: None shall be enslaved by….maternity?

Nick Clegg bemoans the maleness and paleness of the Lib Dems and his sense of shame that our parliamentary party is 88% male seems genuine enough.

What is it about the culture of Lib Dems that has brought about this striking gender imbalance?

My own experience as a councillor and candidate is that being a (young, childless, solvent) woman is a huge advantage. When I was approved and selected in 2001 you could almost smell the desperation of the party to promote women. The glass ceiling – what was that?

But then I did what women do and I had children and …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

“All-Women Shortlists May Be Necessary, Senior Lib Dems Accept”

So reports the Huffington Post:

Senior Liberal Democrats have accepted that the party may need to resort to all-female shortlists or other tough measures to increase the representation of women and minority groups among its MPs…

Tim Farron MP … said that he was “utterly embarrassed” that only seven of the party’s MPs were women.

He said:

“Over the years we’ve had several debates on the crushing lack of women in the House of Commons, and our zero lack of representation from black and ethnic minority communities, and the debates we’ve always had are about the practical way to create equality and the

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Opinion: “I don’t like them, you don’t like them… We have to have them”

This Saturday, Conference has the opportunity to show that Liberal Democrats are genuinely committed to achieving gender balance in our own distinctively liberal and democratic way.

Conference will debate an amendment which Jo Shaw and I have put forward to Mark Pack and Paul Tyler’s Lords reform motion. Our amendment builds on the approach taken by our party in the late 1990s, when one-off zipping was used to deliver a gender-balanced cohort of Lib Dem MEPs in the first PR elections to the European Parliament.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need these kinds of measures. But with just 12% women …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 14 Comments

Dinti Batstone writes… If not now, when?

Notice anything about this 5-minute BBC report on House of Lords reform? While it talks of ‘revolution in the air’, every interviewee is a white middle aged man.

Yet House of Lords reform could – if the Coalition chooses to make it so – prove a game-changing opportunity to promote the cause of gender balance at Westminster.

Our Commons party consists of just 12% women and the Commons as a whole barely 22%. The reasons for this are complex and different in each party, but electoral volatility and a leaky pipeline of female candidates are two major factors for the Liberal …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Baroness Kate Parminter’s maiden speech

In recent weeks, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ first words in the House of Commons, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Today’s guest editor Mark Valladares feels that it was only right that the same honour should be offered to new Peers, and today we bring you the words of Baroness Parminter of Godalming.

Baroness Parminter: I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, for initiating this debate today. As a new girl, …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments



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    Globalisation has meant that products once made in the Uk are now often made in Asia and services, like computer programming, once provided by UK...
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    We get a lot of these LDV "Labservatives go crazy in Little Wotting" articles. Invariably, before we can understand what is really going on, we...
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    Mike, that's part of the agreement with the Tories, although they haven't agreed to it yet they have agreed to run a consultation on it.
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    Why not scrap the Cabinet system and run by proportionate committees - no need to worry about joint administrations. Back in the days of Avon...
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    Clegg should have been forced out for that and for any number of other errors and betrayals. But he wasn't, because too many of us...