REMINDER: Helena Morrissey’s call for feedback: reply by 7th November

Just a gentle reminder about Helena Morrissey’s call for feedback on progress since her report was published in June last year. She wants your comments by this coming Friday, 7th November. Here’s what she wrote on 13th October:

As set out in my Report into ‘Processes and Culture’ within the Party, I would now like to assess progress made against my recommendations. Taken together, the recommendations formed a suggested – but by no means exhaustive – blueprint for change over both the medium and long term. Less than 18 months has passed since my initial Review, so it was never my expectation that all would be resolved by now, rather that the direction of travel be firmly established.

A number of people attended a ‘surgery’ I hosted with the Pastoral Care Officer, Jeanne Tarrant, during Conference last week. Those inputs have been very helpful – thank you.  I’d now like to hear from anyone who has relevant experiences and views to help me assess the degree of progress made. As in my original Call for Evidence, it would be helpful if feedback could be given around three areas, with specific examples being particularly useful:

1. Are you more confident now that the Party will not tolerate bullying and harassment? What steps have been taken to create a more diverse and inclusive environment? Has sufficient priority been given to the issue?
2. When poor behaviour occurs, is there now more clarity over the processes for dealing with complaints? Do you have greater confidence that due process will be followed, to resolve disputes and investigate any allegations fairly and in a timely manner, with appropriate actions taken?
3. Do you have ideas about what the Party can do to further improve its culture?

Please submit all written evidence by Friday 7th November, by email to [email protected]. All submissions will be treated in confidence. As previously, I will follow up with a number of those who submit written feedback where I need to explore specific aspects.

So, if you have some spare time this weekend, please contact her with your comments.

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  • R Uduwerage-Perera 2nd Nov '14 - 11:55am

    Dear Liberal Democrats,

    I would personally commend people to respond to Helena with their thoughts, concerns and suggestions for change for we have simply not progressed as we should have.

    The events of last week have reconfirmed to me, as a result of the resignation of brother Lester Holloway, that with regard to equality matters, we the Liberal Democrat Party require cultural change, for one need only scratch the surface, as Lester did, and sadly the hostility towards Race and other equality matters floods out.

    I wish to state here and now, that I commend the actions of Caron Lindsay who was caught between the two hard places, and decided to overtly expose bigotry, and through doing so assist in the education of us all. Unfortunately a significant number of people ignored the learning and did as they always do. The issue that this has been exposed though, is not a failing of LDV alone, but the culture in which it exists, which is the Liberal Democrat Party, which remains to this day, not as we nicely say ‘unconsciously biased’, but clearly institutionally sexist and racist at least.

    We are the Party with the finest core principles with regard to defending and promoting equality and fairness, and we have a proven track record of doing the right thing when, the majority belief opposes what is right.

    Perhaps it is as result of the desire of some for simplistic political ‘populism’ that we have drifted away from the path that our Party previously and bravely trod, but if we wish to return to being the Party that is seen as genuinely supportive of fairness and equality, then I would suggest that we need to ignore the perceived benefits of shallow populism on these matters, and simply do what is right.

    Please my fellow Liberal Democrats, lets take back the ground that we have lost and start to “walk the talk”. We will in the long term win back old, and equally importantly win new supporters.

    Helena’s report was groundbreaking, and could have been, and still could be the basis upon which we build a more equitable future, but sadly I fear that it has become merely a report that is conveniently displayed on the coffee tables of the very people who should have read it themselves, and not left it to their advisors to summarise.

    We are six months away from a General Election, and there is still time to bring about revolutionary change within our Party, that will establish a return to our core beliefs. Waiting for evolutionary change when it comes to fairness and equality is simply too long, and frankly cruel to those who remain marginalised.

    I accept that some will wish to attack what I have said, but please remember to challenge my words, and not me as an individual, for I have not set out to offend or insult anyone, but merely have a love and a passion for the Party that we could so easily achieve!

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair

  • Lauren SALERNO 3rd Nov '14 - 9:34am

    “Brother Lester” is unfortunately proof the of the worse of LD culture and with deep regret to Ruwan to focus on race and gender with only a nod to other issues is further proof of what appear to be a deep malaise

    Having only just rejoined the party I have been shocked and disappointed by its culture and the segregationalism within it. We may be in favour of for example LGBT+ rights but were our language and attention to be audited then I suspect we would find a nodding reference to gay rights an little or none to the others.

    I have had to point out issues on a wide range of fronts which have fortunately been accepted and action either taken or promised but these are issues that should never have arisen.

    One of the great failings especially in Equality is that a hierarchy of diversity exists.. Race and gender have long been on the agenda and there is still much to do. If nothing else we have to move beyond binary gender concepts and recognise and include those who consider themselves to be both male and female and those who consider themselves neither.. We have to recognise that Race is not a black issue, but an issue for all “colours”; and that it is not just whites who are racist

    More importantly I would suggest is that we work to create true parity for the newer kids on the block. The disabled especially those with unseen disabilities re still vulnerable and our culture does not reflect that . The gay community is not wholly reflected and the Trans and BI communities even less!

    We are I believe committed to equality and parity across the strands but our culture from the little I have seen so far is such that we have to fight for our interests (especially if we are a small minority or a minority within a minority) against the more entrenched interests and this is self destructive

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '14 - 4:29pm

    Lester is not proof of the “worse of LD culture” with reference to hierarchies of equality. He has challenged these hierarchies and even been willing to make himself unpopular with some in doing so.

    I’m not totally against hierarchies of inequality, but some issues seem to be taken so much more seriously than others and a lot of it seems to be people letting their principles blow with the wind depending on what is fashionable at the time.

    Lester, I know you don’t need advice from me, but if you make yourself “indispensable” on other mainstream Lib Dem issues then you will find more coming to your defence. I have to ask myself why am I slow to react again to someone saying bad things to Lester, although it didn’t really register at first, and I think it is because I know politically we disagree on a lot of issues. However, above all, I know you are an honest person.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '14 - 4:35pm

    By the way, disagreeing with someone doesn’t excuse ignoring racism, I’m just saying sometimes we might think “Lester has got into an argument with someone” and not quite read the all the text and realise how serious it is.

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