Author Archives: Liz Jarvis

Let’s find our Kamala Harris

There’s a great quote from Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the US Congress: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” Maybe it was the combination of the heat and the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sandwich I’d just eaten, but when the news broke last night that Kamala Harris has been selected to be Joe Biden’s running mate, I whooped and woo-hoo-ed. A lot. Only four women have ever been named by a major US party as a presidential or vice-presidential nominee, and none of them have been elected.

We are all acutely aware that this US election is one of the most significant of our lifetimes – a chance for America to reject the corrosive rhetoric of Trump and the appalling racism which his administration has helped to foster. There will be numerous attempts to undermine Kamala Harris, Fox News will throw everything at her; but I have no doubt she has the tenacity to weather any kind of storm. And representation matters.

For the Liberal Democrats, it’s the opportunity to look around and see what we can and should be doing differently, and that means making sure more diverse voices in the party are allowed to take centre stage.

I was really delighted that both of our Leadership Candidates have publicly committed to supporting the Rooney Rule, and hopefully this will ensure that there are Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates in as many target seat selections as possible. Selections also still need to include female candidates – and if you don’t get why that’s important, when over 50% of our MPs are women, it’s worth noting that in the General Election, just 31% of our candidates were female.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Why we need the Supporters’ Scheme

On Saturday I was at a Lib Dem Women event for International Women’s Day, and in a few of the excellent breakout sessions, found myself sitting next to a highly engaged and articulate woman who I presumed was a Councillor or PPC. It transpired that she was not even a member of the Lib Dems, but “still considering” whether to join, due to time constraints and not being sure if she was ready to commit. When I mentioned the prospect of a Supporters’ Scheme her eyes lit up. “That sounds ideal,” she said.

It’s not the first time I’ve met someone who considers themselves to be a Lib Dem supporter but doesn’t feel ready to join the party. Indeed, on the doorstep over the past few months, from Streatham to St Albans, I have spoken to countless people who have told me they will deliver leaflets, perhaps consider coming along for a canvassing session, and certainly vote Lib Dem – but they’re not actually members, and they’re not ready to be. Making that commitment to joining just seems like a step too far for those who consider themselves to be politically aware but are time poor, or maybe just not quite ready to stand up and say they’re a Lib Dem.

There are then numerous reasons to endorse the Supporters’ Scheme. It’s been well documented that I was previously a Labour supporter – I didn’t join the Lib Dems until last August. But in the two years leading up to that decision, even though I was leaning towards the Lib Dems and am very much a Liberal in every sense, shaking off the tribalism that had been part of my life since I was old enough to understand that people had different political views felt like an enormous step.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 15 Comments
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