Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Voting reform is vital for a more diverse Parliament

When Sal Brinton and I did the Hungry for Democracy fast last week, we did it to raise awareness of why we need a different voting system for Westminster so that we can get the Parliament we ask for.

Also in our minds was the fact that proportional voting systems give much more potential for a more diverse Parliament. An article on the Electoral Reform Society’s blog this week shows how our First Past the Post system is a barrier to gender equality. Basically, the safest seats are mostly held by men.

When each constituency has just one seat, only one MP can be elected to represent that area. This in itself quells diversity and competition.

Secondly, the majority of seats rarely change hands between different parties. So once an MP is elected to represent a ‘safe seat’ there is little chance of them losing a subsequent election.

Combined with the fact that incumbent MPs are very rarely deselected, it means ‘safe seat’ MPs have unrivalled job security. And, as the new research shows, the longer an MP has held their seat, the more likely they are to be men.

This represents a constant drag on women’s representation – unless there are real structural changes.

proportional voting system with multi-member seats would end seat blocking by adding much-needed competition: constituencies would be represented by multiple MPs, meaning no one could secure a monopoly on local representation

Sal talks about how, at current rates of progress, her baby granddaughters, two this Summer, will be in their ninth decade before gender equality is achieved.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

ICYMI: A hat-trick of Lib Dem GAINS in last night’s by-elections

Last night was a good night for Lib Dems across the country:

Brilliant from Martin Wrigley and team.

Congratulations, Margaret Evans and team.

Well done to Saul Penfold and team.

And we had some pretty impressive increases in vote share in 3 more contests.

Posted in News | Tagged | 24 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #506

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 506th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (4-10 February, 2018), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | 2 Comments

It’s not just the ridiculous and ignorant mistakes made in PIP and ESA assessments that should worry us

You judge whether a society is civilised or not by how it treats its most vulnerable people.  The Work and Pensions Select Committee will publish a report this week which has recommendations for the reform of social security for sick and disabled people.

If one of your relatives suffered from a debilitating, life limiting physical or mental health condition, you would want them to have the best support possible. You wouldn’t want them to have to endure a social security system that is complex, demeaning and stressful.

As a prelude to their full report, the Work and Pensions Committee published a taster of the evidence they have received which outlines the awful things that people go through.

For me, it wasn’t the absurd and ridiculous incidents that caught the headlines (people being asked why they hadn’t killed themselves yet, or how they caught Down’s Syndrome) that upset me the most. It was the clear evidence that the way the system operates is harmful to people that made me angriest.

To be fair, none of this was news to me. I’ve been aware for some time that the system is broken. It particularly fails those with fluctuating conditions, Autism and poor mental health, but it’s stressful for everybody.

Filling in the massive form is particularly difficult. For some, it is even more so. I spoke at an RNIB Scotland fringe meeting at Scottish Conference about a year ago, The RNIB Scotland Chair, Sandra Wilson, talked about her experience of the dreaded form. She has no sight. They sent her a paper copy and expected her to fill it in. They knew she had no sight when they sent her the form.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

Can you help elect April in May?

Two years ago, former Manchester Withington Lib Dem MP was elected as a Councillor in Manchester. Since then he has valiantly provided the only opposition to the under-achieving Labour Council. Seriously, this lot are as good an argument for PR as you are ever going to find.  They have a huge sense of entitlement to power and they really don’t like opposition which John has been providing in generous and disproportionate amounts. 

John is great but it would be amazing if he could have some support in the Council chamber.

Standing in the Withington ward this May are April Preston and Alex Warren. April is amazing and no stranger to challenging things that just aren’t right. She crowdfunded the money to pay for one of the best fringe meetings I’d ever been to at a Federal Conference on feminism in York two years ago.

The Withington team has set up a crowdfunder for their campaign and it’s raised £500 in just a few days. They say:

Withington Ward Liberal Democrats will strive to put community back into the Council and with your help we will be able to challenge officials that neglect our beloved city.

Our candidates in this year’s elections are: April Preston, and Alex Warren.

April Preston was the first spokesperson for Stockport Young Carers and has been passionate activist from the age of 10 and continues to campaign on a wide on a wide range of issues from mental health to children leaving care. April is also a is a trustee of Autistic Association of Greater Manchester, she has campaigned to repeal Section 28, and against the Iraq war. April has also argued against the council’s treatment of our homeless and chaired events fighting for a more diverse and tolerant society.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

What will you do to make sure the party is welcoming to BAME people?

Party members have been emailed by Vince Cable tonight. He asks all of us to play our part in ensuring that the Liberal Democrats are open and welcoming to BAME people.

Members are asked to read John Alderdice’s report on race, ethnic minorities and the culture of the Liberal Democrats. He was asked to identify any barriers to BAME participation in the party and if there were, what should we do about them.

He concludes that there are barriers, not stemming from malevolence but sometimes just not getting it and that the party needs to get its act together. All the processes in the world won’t help unless we are all committed to ensuring that our culture is as open and welcoming as it can be.

He recommends establishing a Campaign for BAME Representation that runs along the same lines as the successful Campaign for Gender Balance.

In a piece on the Lib Dem website, he asks us to consider what we can do to bring about that essential cultural change:

This is about who we are as Liberal Democrats, and whether we practice what we preach. We can start changing our party’s culture by taking some of these simple actions:

  • Start to read, think and talk with others about this issue and about what you can do.

  • If any BaME person comes to a local meeting, make a point to go and talk to them: make them feel welcomed and develop a relationship with them.

  • Is the range of events you hold sufficiently sensitive to the culture and beliefs of different communities – the ‘Lib Dem Pint’ isn’t very accessible for people who don’t drink, for example.

  • Ensure that your local party group makes and implements a plan for engaging with race and ethnic minority communities in your area.

  • Think about your local campaigning priorities and materials: do they address the interests and concerns of BAME communities in your area?

  • If you want to bring in young people from communities, don’t expect older community leaders to be the most suitable magnets.

  • Everyone has a contribution to make in engaging BAME communities and individuals at all levels.

  • Study the options suggested in the report as a stimulus for you developing your own ideas for changing the culture of the Party.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Why it’s time to follow Jo’s lead in tackling sexist behaviour

When John Humphrys and Jon Sopel mocked the whole BBC gender pay gap controversy in the wake of Carrie Gracie’s resignation last month, they weren’t really held to account. There was no great show of remorse from them. The BBC could have taken them off air for a couple of days to underline that they were unimpressed with their behaviour. They and their sense of entitlement were pretty much left untouched.

Until today.

Jo Swinson was interviewed by John Humphrys about the new procedures to tackle sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament. At the end of the interview, this happened:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments
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