Author Archives: Daisy Cooper

Building more diverse council groups

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook and heard questions at Lib Dem socials about how to recruit more women and diverse candidates for council elections. There seems to be a real willingness to do it but not always a clear idea of how. Here are my three top tips – I’d be interested in what others have done.

  1. SET TARGETS. Look at the demographics of your area and propose that your local party Exec or campaign team buy into the idea of taking some action and agreeing targets. You could decide that 50% of target council seats will be held by women; and/or 50% of all council seats. You can adopt targets for BAME /LGBT+ and people with disabilities too. Telling potential council candidates that you are taking positive steps to better reflect the local community you want to serve is a very strong recruitment message.
  2. TARGETED RECRUITMENT. Filter your ‘strong Lib Dem’ data on Connect by gender, and approach the women on the list first – of course you need to have a conversation to check that they really do ‘live our values.’ Look at the local residents’ associations, Parish Councillors, and residents who are vocal on local Facebook forums etc, and those who are involved in civic campaigns that overlap with our values (for example local Amnesty groups, Transition Towns etc), identify the people you know to be from under-represented groups and cross-check them with your canvass data, or go and canvass them.
  3. DON’T PUSH FOR AN IMMEDIATE ANSWER. For all sorts of reasons, men are more likely to say ‘yes’ to standing or even put themselves forward without being asked. Statistically, women are more likely to be care-givers (for children and/or ageing parents), and women and people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to be in lower-paid jobs (which can require night-shifts / unusual hours) so unless they immediately rule it out (and by this I mean they say “no way, not a chance, never”), their thinking might jump ahead to ‘how can I fit it all in?’ They are also more likely to want to discuss the idea with friends and family to gauge their reaction too. In short, you may have to ask, then give them a few days to think about it, offer to give them the chance to speak to someone with similar circumstances and agree to give them a follow up call a few days later. Even inviting them out for a ‘taster session’ of door knocking. You’ll need to be prepared to change campaign sessions around their lives. If there’s no-one in your area with similar circumstances, you can post on here and I expect someone will volunteer to speak to them.

It does require more effort but consider it an investment of time that will help you find under-used talent. I’ve been part of a team that has done this and just this year we found two brilliant new by-election candidates who gave it everything.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

What if your boss could check your internet browsing history? 

What if your boss could check your internet browsing history?

What if you became a criminal just because you attended a rock concert?

And what if a supermarket knew you were pregnant before you did (actually a true story)? And they could sell that information on?

Most people don’t know that all three things are entirely possible thanks to the Conservative’s Snoopers Charter, the SNP’s use of facial recognition software and the power of supermarkets to track your changing shopping habits against your personal data.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Building a diverse party: the Leadership Candidates respond to Daisy Cooper’s questions

Tim Farron MPNormanLambOn 17 May, I set out my challenge to the Leadership candidates in an LDV blog, asking each of them whether and to what extent they would commit to some achievable measures to build a more diverse party. Here are their answers – presented without comment.

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?

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 31 Comments

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?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 58 Comments

Opinion: Less than 2% of members will vote at Conference: this is not an ‘internal democracy’ of which we can be proud

We make much of the fact that we’re the most internally democratic of the political parties. We say that it is our members who vote on policy, elect those who organise our conferences, and those who hold our party officers to account.

But in reality, it is just a fraction of our members who perform these functions: less than 2% in fact.

Of our total membership, just 5% are appointed as voting representatives. Of this 5%, just 1.63% have – as of today – registered to attend our forthcoming Autumn conference (these figures were provided to the FE sub-group tasked with looking at One Member One Vote). That means that just 1.63% of our total membership are entitled to vote and have registered for conference.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 50 Comments

Opinion: Five ways we can focus on winning

Lib Dems winning hereWhen I announced my candidacy for Lib Dem Party President, I said that my number one priority was for us to ‘focus on winning’. I said that we must use May 2015 as an opportunity for every member to experience winning, gain confidence to campaign on our messages, and develop their campaign skills. That’s how I believe we’ll motivate members to go out and win. A number of people have asked me how we might do this in practice so here are my ideas.

  • We must first re-assert our commitment to local government in its own right, not just as a stepping-stone for winning Parliamentary seats. We must agree to re-build our local government activist base following the damage of recent years, and we must resolve to start the fight now.
  • Liberal Youth, Lib Dem Women, LibDem LGBT+ and Ethnic Minority Lib Dems (EMLD) should be recruiting grounds for 2015 Council candidates, and non-target seat PPCs should understand the role they can play to identify new candidates and re-elect existing Councillors. I’ve already suggested that ALDC work with these various groups in order to recruit younger and more diverse council candidates across the country. I’ve also suggested that ALDC work more closely with the Parliamentary Candidates Association. I’m delighted that both of these ideas are being pursued.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Opinion: Time for change. Time for a Liberal Revival: my manifesto for Party President

I joined this party because I believe in the power of every individual to take power and use it – use it to shape their own lives and communities and to help change the world.

I joined this party because I’ve seen brave people face down threats from large powerful corporations, from their own governments, and from conformity – everything for which we stand.

And I joined this party because ours is the only political philosophy that believes in trusting, enabling and freeing people. We want to lift people out of poverty and ignorance. We want them to have a safety net so they have the confidence to take risks, to innovate and make bold decisions. And we want to create a system of governance that serves people and communities, from the grass-roots up.

We were right to adopt community politics as an ideology of social transformation in the 1970s, and we were right to re-state our commitment to it in 2011. But as I said then – to the nodding heads of Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron – it must once again become the foundation of our identify and our approach. In 2011, Conference agreed “A renewed strategic emphasis on ‘community politics’: our role as political activists is to help organise people in communities to take and use power, to use our political skills to redress grievances, and to represent people at all levels of the political structure.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Opinion: How many all-male panels will there be at Autumn Conference?

Guardian 2 photo by Liberal democratsPersonally, I’d like there to be none. And that’s why I have today written to Tim Gordon, CEO, and Tim Farron, party President, asking for a message to be sent to all internal and external organisations holding fringe events at Autumn conference, to remind them of the need for diverse panels, including gender balance. I’ve also asked that the same be done for all local parties who will soon be electing their Executives.

A while back, Mark Pack announced his decision to decline invitations to sit on …

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Opinion: Clegg’s cock-up over Page 3 – he should sign the “No More Page Three” petition now

In a BBC Radio 5 Live interview last week, Nick Clegg declined to back “the campaign to ban page 3 girls from the Sun,” on the grounds that the state should not dictate the content of newspapers. But the campaign in question- entitled Take the Bare Boobs Out of The Sun but better known by its twitter handle “@NoMorePage3” – ISN’T calling on the government to ban page 3. It is appealing directly to The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan to stop printing it, on the basis that it simply isn’t appropriate to “show the naked breasts of young women in a widely read ‘family’ newspaper” for the purpose of the reader’s gratification.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 67 Comments

Opinion: Boundary changes are an opportunity to elect 50 MPs by PR

The current proposals for electoral boundary changes include the idea that the number of constituencies and MPs should be reduced from 650 to 600. My suggestion is this: let’s keep the overall number of MPs at 650, and let’s agree to reduce the number of constituency MPs to 600 on the condition that the other 50 (less than 10%) are elected from party lists on the basis of proportional representation.

In a democracy, all votes should be equal. Votes will never be equal in the UK until the country adopts the proportional representation (PR) voting system. Under the ‘first past the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Individual freedom and power should be our distinctive Lib Dem identity

It seems that every few days there is another soul-searching LibDem blog or newspaper article asking: “what do we believe in?” “What do we stand for?” “What’s the coherent narrative behind the string of ‘Lib Dem achievements in government’?” What we need to do is urgently define ourselves in contrast to – not in relation to – the other major parties.

What we need to do is build a strong national identity.“Individual freedom and power” should be the phrase that the Liberal Democrats adopt to assert their distinctive identity for three reasons.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 25 Comments
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