Tag Archives: lynne featherstone

Lynne Featherstone hits out at UKIP’s FGM policy

Lynne Featherstone has, rightly, reacted with horror to UKIP’s proposal to “implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.”

Lynne, in her work as Home Office and International Development Minister, changed the law to tackle FGM. She said:

UKIP’s approach is horrifically heavy-handed and will alienate the very communities we are trying to reach out to. We should be training our teachers and other providers such as community experts to identify those at risk and teaching children themselves that FGM is wrong and to come forward if they fear for themselves or a friend.

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Lynne Featherstone interview Part 2: The future

In the hours following the icy gales of Storm Doris, I caught up with Lynne at Taunton’s most distinguished hotel, The Castle. This is the second instalment of our chat. You can read the others here. A more detailed discussion of the path to same sex marriage will appear tomorrow.

Of your achievements in politics, where would you put the equal marriage bill? 

Oh, right at the top. It is the most public. It is the most clear cut and obvious. But it shares with others. Clearly the FGM campaign wouldn’t have happened. I am incredibly proud of it because I find it extraordinary that we allow a practice such as this to go on in this country and around the world. I always say that if they were chopping off half a boy’s willy, this practice would not have lasted four seconds let alone four thousand years. This is because we don’t rate women and girls.

The one that people don’t know about is the disability in the developing world campaign, which I’m incredibly proud of. I changed the structure on how we give money. I refused to give any money to any educational charity working in the developing world unless they had totally accessible schools. That made a huge difference.

That is the thrill of politics – you can use it to try to make the world a better place. It sounds terribly naive, but that’s what I went into politics for. I was one of the very few lucky people who managed to do some big things. I got a lot of satisfaction at every level, but there’s nothing like being a minister.

Along with many other Lib Dem MPs, you lost your seat in 2015. What are you up to now?

Yes, I did lose my seat. For the first two weeks, I laid on the sofa eating chocolate and drinking alcohol while watching every episode of 24 and all the Harry Potter films. That was an excellent start to my new life!

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Lynne Featherstone interview Part 1: Early life and influences

As Minister for Equalities in the recent coalition government, Lynne Featherstone was the originator and architect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. She has received various accolades and awards for her work on equalities. In his book Gay Shorts (2015), the former Conservative Party politician turned broadcaster and member of the LGBT community, Iain Dale said that:

Same-sex marriage will be associated with Lynne Featherstone in the same way that we associate David Steel with the 1967 Abortion Act and Roy Jenkins with the legalisation of homosexuality.

In the hours following the icy gales of Storm Doris, I caught up with Lynne at Taunton’s most distinguished hotel, The Castle. The previous evening, she spoke at a party fundraiser in East Devon. After our interview, she was heading off to another commitment,as the guest speaker at the Bridgwater and West Somerset Liberal Democrats annual dinner. She is certainly a woman in demand! Among the bustling crowd of Saturday night revellers, who were making good use of the historic hotel’s bar and restaurant, Lynne and I managed to find a table and a couple of chairs, tucked away in a reasonably quiet corner.

In the hour that I had with the Lib Dem peer, I wanted to cover a lot of ground. Obviously, the subject of her new book Equal Ever After was going to dominate much of the conversation. Besides the same sex marriage bill, I wanted to find out more about the former MP and her life before  and after her time as Minister.

You are a north London girl, could you tell me a bit about your childhood?

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Lynne Featherstone: It was as if MPs’ cojones had gone missing

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Lynne Featherstone was characteristically pithy, slamming the government’s position on EU nationals as “no way for a decent country to behave” and was quite clear that the people must be given the final say on the deal – and wonders what would happen if public opinion changed on Brexit. Would the brexiteers be so happy to listen to the will of the people then? She said the Lords should do what the Commons didn’t have the nerve to do and amend the bill to guarantee EU nationals’ rights, membership of the single market and that referendum on the deal.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and I could not agree more with him on that last point.

I do not take kindly to threats. There may be many reasons for which this House in its current form should be abolished or reformed, but expressing our views honestly is not one of them. Those in the other place who seek to threaten and bully us should be ashamed of themselves. If we send this back to the Commons with amendments, it is simply to say, “Look at this again”—that is what we do with legislation. At least, that is my understanding after a year in your Lordships’ House. This is no different.

We live in uncertain times in an uncertain world, which is even more uncertain today now that the new leader of the free world appears to have no understanding of or respect for his role—or worse. Each day brings another jaw-dropping statement, press briefing, appointment, tweet or executive order, the reality of which is stark and dangerous. I have always been a great fan of America and have always wanted a close relationship with the country that has the most power. I also wanted a close relationship with Europe. I am now concerned about our relationship with the former.

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WATCH: Lynne Featherstone’s message on the International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM

One of Lynne Featherstone’s main achievements in government was around tackling Female Genital Mutilation. She has recorded a message for today’s International Day of Zero Tolerance against FGM.

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Lynne Featherstone calls on UK Government to support Women’s Health Fund to replace funds lost by Trump’s abortion gag rule

I have felt sick to the stomach virtually every day this week as new pronouncements come from the new US President. Already he’s damaged our planet by authorising new pipelines, promised to reinstate torture and proclaimed that he’s going to build that wall no matter what.

For me, though, the worst was the distasteful image of a man who has gloated about sexually assaulting women sitting, surrounded by men, signing an executive order which will ensure that vulnerable women lose their lives. He has reinstated the “global gag rule” on abortion which means that no US funds can go to organisations which provide abortion services. No US money pays for abortion services, but no organisation can receive funds for its other programmes.

The impact of this on Africa is highlighted by this Washington Post article:

In Kenya, public health experts raised immediate concerns about the new policy. Women here often resort to dangerous methods to end their pregnancies, including drinking battery acid and using wire coat hangers. In parts of rural Kenya, young women have hired local healers to stomp on their stomachs until the pregnancy is deemed over.

“Trump’s policy means even fewer services will be offered,” said Chimaraoke Izugbara, a researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi. “Some women will not be reached, and providers may not be available to offer services. I think we are headed to a major disaster.”

Nearly 8,000 women in Kenya die every year from complications caused by pregnancy and childbirth. At least a fifth of those deaths are caused by self-induced abortions, according to Izugbara.

However, Dutch trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen has a solution:

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Are we in a fracking mess?

Over the past few weeks you could be forgiven for assuming that the party is in a bit of a mess on the fracking issue. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Scottish and Welsh devolved governments both had a moratorium on fracking on the basis of inherent risks in the technology, with unquantified dangers of seismic disturbance and pollution of water tables, as well as (still unaddressed) risks of waste material transport, treatment and disposal. Permitting planning authorities to reject fracking on these grounds is important. Both our Welsh and Scottish parties supported these moratoria. When a moratorium was debated at Westminster before the election, many of the 58 votes against were from the non-government Lib Dems.
However, as many have said, the evidence for these risks being unavoidable is weak. Fracking can be done safely, from a purely technical point of view. The massively over-interpreted RSE report said so.
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