Author Archives: Belinda Brooks Gordon

For peace, healthcare, medical research, animal welfare, workers’ rights and equality: why I’m voting Remain

This is a speech I gave recently at a debate on the European Union at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

I want to tell you why Europe matters. Why it matters to me, to all of us, and our families.

I was born in the Caribbean after Hurricane Hattie, with the windows still broken in the hospital. We know extreme weather events are now more common elsewhere too.

But for our planet, and a greener future, Europe is taking the lead in the global effort to halt climate change. To prevent rising sea levels, and cut greenhouse gases. Our fragile, flood-ridden region, here in Cambridgeshire, needs that protection and forward thinking.

I grew up in Nigeria under a dictatorship. I saw division and bloodshed following the Biafran war. Burnt-out cars lay by the roadside. Roadblocks where soldiers had guns as likely to go off in their own face as mine.


My work is on civil liberties and protection of the vulnerable. Especially migrant populations, trafficked women, and abused children. It’s why I feel that the EU, which funds programmes and refuges that protect women and young people from violence, is necessary.

It’s why I am grateful for the European Arrest Warrant. It means that thousands of criminals are no longer on our streets because our police can share information.

Now, I live with a vet and I’ve seen the impact of disease through intensive farming. Not only is animal welfare very important to us as a family. But as a mother, the safety of the food I feed my family matters.

So I am glad that EU food safety watches over all stages of food production. From animal feed, plants and crops, to the movement of animals. To ensure food across Europe is safe for us to eat.

And safer goods too. Because Europe gives us better consumer protection. Take standardization – people often laugh at Brussels for it. But it means that manufacture costs are lower and it ensures safer, better quality goods.

More than two thousand faulty items are banned each year – from Chinese rubber ducks to suspect tattoo chemicals from the USA. It means we can make informed choices.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

The ALDE Party Celebrates 40th Birthday

The Easter weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of formation of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe (ALDE). ALDE is a political party is formed of an alliance many of the liberal and democrat parties in Europe.


The ALDE party was founded on 26 March 1976 in Stuttgart in Germany. It was the first cross border political family. More can be read on the Stuttgart declaration at the ALDE party site but suffice to say it is based on the Oxford Manifesto of 1947 and was was formed from fourteen parties from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as well as the International Liberal Youth Organisation and the Liberal Group in the European Parliament.

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged | 9 Comments

The science behind diverse shortlists

During the debate on diversity the speeches on all sides were so moving that I felt compelled to share some of the science behind WHY we needed this motion and why I am so proud of everyone who spoke in that debate.

Studies show that from birth, girls lose out to boys. In the ‘Baby X’ trials where a baby is referred to as ‘Dana’ or ‘David, or dressed in pink or blue irrespective of their gender, adults treat the babies differently.

At the age of 11 months, in studies where mothers are asked to estimate their infants’ crawling ability on a sloped walkway, mothers of boys over estimate and mothers of girls under estimate how well their child will do. Parents’ beliefs about what their child is capable of influences what parents expect of their children.

The reason for this, according to Professor Virginia Valian in her book ‘Why so Slow‘ is due to gender schemas and the accumulation of advantage.  Gender schemas are cognitive constructs that lead to over-valuations of men and under-valuations of women.This misevaluation occurs despite the intention to measure actual achievement. Most people sincerely mean to be meritocratic, and ignore gender, ethnicity, or disability, when making judgments. But the data suggest people overrate some groups and underrate others.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 38 Comments

Opinion: Confronting gender inequalities in the workplace

Handshake man - womenI am proud to belong to a party that strives to represent the unrepresented, defend the rights of minorities and works hard to achieve equality for all. Our work in government to tackle inequality has improved the lives of many and made society as a whole fairer. But, whilst we have made real progress in improving the deal for women in the workplace, it remains unacceptable that in the 21st century women remain underrepresented at the top and suffer significant pay disadvantages throughout many organisations.

At conference in Glasgow, the Federal Policy Committee will present its policy paper Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential. A paper that addresses, amongst many other vital issues, the lack of women on boards and ongoing gender pay disparities. I wanted to take the opportunity in this blog to outline the difficulties women in the workplace still face and set out what measures we propose in the paper to address them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    Correction: 'customs union'
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    @ Anthony Watts I echo that also and it behoves all of us to pursue the "people's vote" option as the only practical way to...
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:22pm
    It was always going to be a bad deal. A currency union is a bad deal, but I wish you would leave "vassal state" terminology...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 14th Nov - 2:54pm
    @David Raw Are you saying that the non UK wide parties are of no relevance to demands for a second referendum ? No! I clearly...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:45pm
    Mark Pack has emailed an interesting survey of opinion on Brexit undertaken in October. It indicates that those who voted Leave still believe there will...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:18pm
    Great article Joe Bourke but I disagree with one of your statements. I don’t see any evidence that common sense has to break out because...