Tag Archives: alderdice review

Jo Swinson on sexism, making space for learning and how equal power benefits us all

There’s a really good interview with Jo Swinson in online publication The Debrief. She talks about her book, Equal Power, and about how to combat the polarising culture we find ourselves in. Making time for learning is something she has found useful. Perhaps men who feel threatened by feminism might wish to approach the subject the way she approached the issue of racism by reading up and empathising with those who experience it. That, by the way, is something we should all think about in the wake of the Alderdice Review.

In our Twitter age…in this very polarised time where everything is painted in a very extreme light. It’s made to seem as though it’s one thing or its polar opposite but there has to be space for learning’. The truth is that the continuing fight for true equality between men and women is not, as Parris kept suggesting, about ‘winning’. Women’s equality will not be ‘won’ at the expense of men because a truly equal society will benefit us all.

A good example for the benefits of creating space for learning as opposed to polarising opposition, Swinson tells me was the impact of Renni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. After reading it, she says she is ‘much more aware of the privilege’ she has ‘as a white skinned person’. Reading the book did not make her defensive or protective of her privilege but instead made her think ‘oh my goodness have I been blind to injustice’. She explains ‘in the same way that I’ve not experienced discrimination or discrimination about my sexual orientation, I have to listen and learn to people who have and realise that privilege – it’s similar for men – they might get it, or they might not get it, but they want to – we need to speak with them, so they can learn – this is what I suggest in my book – talking to your male friends and colleagues about your experiences’. Even individual conversations within a personal circle of trust can be powerful, she says in helping people to understand power dynamics because ‘when it’s your friend, sister or daughter telling you it’s harder to dismiss and easier to understand.’

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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 | 17 Comments

REMINDER: Alderdice Review – Call for evidence. Deadline Friday 20th January

This is a reminder that the call for evidence for the Alderdice Review is still open. The independent inquiry, currently being led by Lord Alderdice, is an examination into the processes and culture within the party, with a specific emphasis on race and ethnicity.

Below are some of the key questions and issues the inquiry is investigating:

1. Are there barriers to participation for BAME members? If so, what and where are they?

2. Do barriers differ in different parts of the party?

3. How effective are existing mechanisms/procedures in addressing the issue?

4. Does the Party do enough to engage with BAME voters and ensure accessibility for potential BAME members?

5. What further steps should, or could, be taken by the Party to address the issues identified in this review

Posted in News | 3 Comments
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