Tag Archives: all-women shortlists

Shortlists and Privilege

On Sunday, Conference voted for all-women shortlists. As part of the debate, I gave a speech outlining how my experience showed that lots of men simply aren’t aware of the privilege they have. I was surprised that this speech would immediately precede the rare event of a leader’s speech in a debate. Tim – I hope I set them up all right for you!

For the first 40 years of my life I lived as male. Transitioning to female in 2004, and starting my own software company at the same time, showed me what I had anticipated – that I had to work much harder to be treated as worth listening to. It didn’t come as a shock to me, as I’d observed this since childhood – in fact, it was one of the reasons I used to delay transition. But I know other trans women who have been surprised by this side-effect.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

The Liberal Democrats have a diversity problem

liberalyouth2015I will say it again: the Liberal Democrats have a diversity problem. We are “too male and too pale” – and too straight, and too able-bodied. But All-Women Shortlists are not the only solution to this, and this is why Liberal Youth Youth (backed by our own policy, as passed at our Youth Conference) are proposing an amendment against them. We are under no illusions about the state of our party. Like those that proposed the motion in the first place, we want to be better.

However, we believe that All-Women Shortlists do not tackle the root of our diversity problem. They throw all our energy at papering over the cracks, without pausing to wonder why women aren’t putting themselves forward. We, as a party, are full of absolutely incredible women.  Are we seriously suggesting that the only reason we don’t have 650 female Parliamentary Candidates is because they won’t compete with men for a selection, or that our party is so unbearably sexist that they’ll only vote for a woman if they’re given no other choice?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments

Casual sexism undermines the drive for gender balance

“Bright, intelligent and brave” those are the words that Willie Rennie used to describe me in his speech to Conference. My direct messages on twitter were somewhat different. I had to disable the function to receive messages from anyone but my followers – but that didn’t stop those who already followed me. One man even suggested I’d made up the story for the attention. Because that’s all women’s experiences are to some men. Nothing but a ploy to get attention from men in any form of power.

The same people cry out “We need more women in politics but in a fair way and we need a meritocracy” and “We don’t need positive action, we need to encourage more women to put themselves forward”.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 54 Comments

Jo Swinson: Why I now back all women shortlists

12496325_10207909151261642_614223791405517749_oBelow are the two speeches Jo Swinson made to Scottish Conference yesterday. The Diversity Debate took place in two halves. The first was on a constitutional amendment which would allow the Scottish Party to implement arrangements on gender balance which had been approved by conference. One amendment to that was submitted, and supported by the movers, changing gender balance to the much wider “diversity”. The risk of such an approach was that a 2/3 majority was needed for it to pass, but the working group had been advised that a constitutional amendment was vital to enable any new arrangements to be implemented.

It’s worth pointing out that in the intervening period, Jo has done so much to encourage and support women candidates, running training events and supporting so many as they embarked on selection campaigns.

Here is her speech proposing the constitutional amendment:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

The counter bias proposed in the All Women Shortlist motion will not in itself be enough to achieve balance

Spring Conference Agenda 2016The membership of the Liberal Democrats is almost 50% male and 50% female (I say almost because we have a number of members who are non-binary (they do not define as male or female) and I will say up front that when I refer to “all women shortlists” this does not mean I am excluding these non-binary candidates, I want and would strongly encourage them to seek selection.

The Liberal Democrats also instinctively seek parity between men and women (it is noticeable that not one man felt he could do a better job than the excellent women candidates who stood for election as Party President in 2014.  This was not out of some arranged plot visited upon us from Lib Dem HQ, it was simply a conclusion that we all reached of our own volition.

Why then can we not achieve gender balance in our parliamentary candidates by the same gut instinct?  Well actually we want to but there is disagreement as to how we go about it.

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

So what’s the evidence?

 

Can anyone think of a worse time to deliberately put weaker candidates into our winnable parliamentary seats? I refer to the All Women Shortlists (AWS) proposal being put to the York conference. Now I can hear the howls of protest, “women are NOT weaker candidates”. Indeed, that’s why this measure is totally unnecessary.

We all want to see more women in the parliamentary party and agree that there is a real problem. However AWS are only a solution if women are not being selected by Local Parties.

So what’s the evidence? Ten MPs stood down in 2015 (including nine men). Six women and four men were selected to replace them. The men included Redcar where no women applied. When the man dropped out in Brent Central he too was replaced by a woman. Looking at the next tranche of target, or recently held, seats the list was dominated by excellent female candidates; Oxford East, Chesterfield, Camborne, Guildford, Winchester, Harrogate, Hereford, Watford, Hull East etc.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 82 Comments

Willie Rennie backs all women shortlists

Willie Rennie has announced that he supports the use of all women shortlists and quotas to improve the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ appalling record on gender balance. He is to lead a group which will draw up specific proposals for the 2019 European, 2020 Westminster and 2021 Holyrood elections.

The Scottish Party looked on in shock when members in the North East did not place highly effective Justice Spokesperson at the top of the list when it was selected at the end of last year. Since then, and particularly following the General Election, there have been strong calls for much stronger action on gender balance. Willie has consulted widely within the party and he announced his plans at the Scottish Party’s and Scottish Liberal Democrat Women’s Everyday Sexism Open Mic event in Edinburgh yesterday.

The Working Group to be led by Willie will consider all options including:

•         All women shortlists

•         Making gender a part of the party’s electoral strategy

•         Quota systems

Willie said:

I have lost patience with the current system and its inability to ensure proper representation of women.  It is now time to take the necessary action to deliver change.

A fresh start for the Liberal Democrats requires us to change.  We need to be more reflective of the people we seek to represent and to perform at our best we need to deploy our best people to make the case for our cause.

Despite an abundance of talented women the party has been unable to put enough in positions to get elected.   It is difficult to make the case for opportunity for everyone when only one of our parliamentarians is a woman.

Twenty years ago my party agreed in the Constitutional Convention to work towards a gender balance in our Scottish Parliamentary representation. Yet since the Scottish Parliament was created we have elected no more than two women at the four elections to Holyrood.   I determined to finally deliver the commitment made to the Constitutional Convention.

Encouragement and organisational support is simply insufficient to overcome the barriers to electing women.

That is why I will lead a working group to finalise proposals to put to the Spring Conference of the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will break down those barriers and increase the representation of women Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

It is my intention that the new arrangements will be in place for the European Election in 2019 and will also apply to the 2020 General Election and 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Election.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 57 Comments

Opinion: Time to address our “Woman Problem”

Two out of four candidates for the UK Labour leadership are women. This remarkable fact has arisen with little comment. It seems normal and there is no suggestion that either Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall’s names on the ballot are tokenistic.

In contrast, no women are eligible to stand for leadership of the Lib Dems as we have no female MPs. We have two strong candidates for leader in Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. I feel, however, that it’s unacceptable to have got ourselves into a position where there is no possibility of voting for a woman leader.

The front-runner to be next Labour leader in Scotland is a woman. The Scottish First Minister is a woman, as is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. The Scottish Greens have Co-Convenors with a man and a woman jointly holding the post. So it is likely that in Scotland we will soon be the only party not to have a woman leader. Indeed, unless there is a considerable change in our fortunes  before the Holyrood elections next year we will soon have no women in the Scottish Parliament either. Our current sole female MSP, Alison McInnes, has been voted number 2 on the North East list and there is only 1 region, out of 8, where we have a woman at the top of the list.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 50 Comments

Opinion: Time to consider all-women shortlists?

I find myself changing my mind on the subject of all-women shortlists. I’ve always been somewhere between agnostic and sceptical on the basis that it’s fairer to have open candidacies in which the best person gets chosen. If the playing ground needs to be levelled, it is best to do it in training and support rather than fixing the rules for appointments. I based this partly on my now shaken belief that, whatever happens in the other parties, the Lib Dems are nice, our hearts are in the right place, so self evidently good choices will be made.

But three things have shaken that belief. Firstly the Rennard affair, and not just the issue itself but the number of people vigorously defending the status quo; secondly, the endemic sexism still visible in society at large, catalogued in visceral detail at Everyday Sexism; and thirdly, the two separate reports published recently on the shape of the elite in our society – still overwhelmingly male. Patriarchy remains alive and in rude good health, in the party as well as in society at large. The playing field remains permanently tilted against women (as well as against BAME people), and the only way in which we can be fair about that situation is to tilt it back. And niceness won’t cut it. All women shortlisting seems a crude tool but I know of no better one at the moment.

Posted in Op-eds | 58 Comments

Opinion: Why I’m supporting all women shortlists

three_women_standing_togetherAs the dust begins to settle from the Rennard affair we must now reflect on how our party can stand up to liberal values when it comes to gender equality. It is welcome that, following a review of the procedures of the case, the party now no longer needs a criminal burden of proof in internal disputes of this kind. We can, and should, be proud of the fact that we have changed protocol in light of the failures that have occurred; not every party is so open and willing to change when things go wrong. However more still needs to be done on the wider issue of how we improve the engagement of women in the party.

Posted in Op-eds | 35 Comments

Are the Liberal Democrats any closer to embracing all-women shortlists?

Womens shortlistsIt’s nearly 31 years since I joined the SDP. When I was first involved, a hot topic of conversation was how to improve the representation of women in the House of Commons. At that point, there were just 23 female MPs, or 3.5% of the total.  We are still having these discussions today. Now there are 22%, but the total has only risen by 4% in the last 3 elections. The biggest leap we have ever had came in 1997 when the numbers doubled from 60-120, with more than half …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 132 Comments

Vince Cable “considers all female shortlists for city firms.” Really?

Yesterday’s Guardian ran a story which said that Vince Cable was considering all female shortlists for the boards of FTSE companies.

That headline was  at this stage over-egging that particular pudding. All he is doing is asking the Equality and Human Rights Commission to advise whether such a move would be legal.

That was in fact the eighth of ten recommendations in a report by Charlotte Sweeney who has worked has head of diversity for top banks, which reviewed the effectiveness of the Government’s voluntary code for city headhunters. It’s worth having a look at the whole report which is available …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Opinion: Sexist Labour needs All Women Shortlists, the Liberal Democrats can change without them

The Independent reported on Sunday that Nick Clegg 2ould consider imposing all women shortlists for the 2020 general election if the party did not select enough women in winnable seats.

I defected from Labour earlier this year and I want to share my experiences of a party that needs to use all women shortlists to select female candidates for parliament and councils.

Earlier this year, Mark Fergusonrightly pointed out on Labourlist  that no women had been selected in open shortlists since before the general election. It pointed out that when local labour parties had the choice between a man and …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 47 Comments

Is Nick Clegg looking at all-women shortlists for 2020?

From today’s Independent:

Nick Clegg is planning to introduce all-women shortlists for the Liberal Democrats if not enough female candidates are selected in winnable seats in 2015.

The radical policy change, which will upset many activists who believe it would go against the party’s constitution, would be introduced in the next Parliament as many candidates have already been selected for the election in 18 months’ time.

Only 12 per cent of Lib Dem MPs are women, and there are none at all from ethnic minorities. Lib Dem sources said a number of “excellent” female and ethnic minority candidates have already been selected

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 43 Comments

All-women shortlists to select Lib Dem candidates? 66% of party members say no.

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Party members oppose all-women shortlists by 66% to 26%

Events this year have once again shone an unflattering light on the party’s lack of female representation in the House of Commons. Though, as Mark Tompson has previously highlighted here on LDV, this is in part at any rate down to first-past-the-post skewing Lib Dem election results. All-women shortlists is …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | 65 Comments

Opinion: Why the Lib Dems need all-women shortlists

In his Lib Dem Voice piece “Too male and too pale” – Why shortlists and the Leadership Programme are not the answer, Paul Head states that he is totally opposed to all-women shortlists (AWS) because they ‘ignore the real problem’ that this reflects in the party as a whole; and that we need to engage more with women and BAME people on a grassroots level and change from below.

This is a sensible argument, and is something that we should strive for. However, I believe that there is a place for AWS in the Liberal Democrats, despite the fact that …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 48 Comments

“All-Women Shortlists May Be Necessary, Senior Lib Dems Accept”

So reports the Huffington Post:

Senior Liberal Democrats have accepted that the party may need to resort to all-female shortlists or other tough measures to increase the representation of women and minority groups among its MPs…

Tim Farron MP … said that he was “utterly embarrassed” that only seven of the party’s MPs were women.

He said:

“Over the years we’ve had several debates on the crushing lack of women in the House of Commons, and our zero lack of representation from black and ethnic minority communities, and the debates we’ve always had are about the practical way to create equality and the

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Dinti Batstone writes… If not now, when?

Notice anything about this 5-minute BBC report on House of Lords reform? While it talks of ‘revolution in the air’, every interviewee is a white middle aged man.

Yet House of Lords reform could – if the Coalition chooses to make it so – prove a game-changing opportunity to promote the cause of gender balance at Westminster.

Our Commons party consists of just 12% women and the Commons as a whole barely 22%. The reasons for this are complex and different in each party, but electoral volatility and a leaky pipeline of female candidates are two major factors for the Liberal …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: No to All-Men Shortlists‏

At our 2001 party conference I donned a shocking pink t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I am not a token woman” and spoke in opposition to all-women shortlists.

Eight years on, I am still opposed to the use of single gender shortlists, but I wonder if I was then taking aim at the wrong target.

Research done by the party in advance of Nick Clegg’s recent appearance before the Speaker’s Conference showed, as I argued back in 2001, no evidence that our party discriminates against women in candidate selections.

Far from it: analysis of 237 selections shows that two thirds of the time where a woman is on the shortlist, a woman is selected.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 57 Comments

LDV readers say: no to all-women short-lists and quotas, yes to better training and support

Three weeks ago, LDV posed the following question – How should the Lib Dems increase their number of female MPs? – in the wake of Nick Clegg’s frank admission to the Speaker’s Conference that the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party is “woefully unrepresentative of modern Britain”.

Here’s what you told us:

  • 8% (23 votes) – All women shortlists and/or quotas in ALL seats
  • 7% (22) – All women shortlists and/or quotas in winnable and held seats
  • 44% (133) – No short-lists and/or quotas, but invest in getting more, better-trained and supported candidates
  • 14% (42) – No short-lists and/or

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged | 30 Comments

NEW POLL: How should the Lib Dems increase their number of female MPs?

At the Speaker’s Conference yesterday, Nick Clegg delivered a frank assessment of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party, calling it “woefully unrepresentative of modern Britain”. It’s not hard to see why. No ethnic minority MPs, and just nine female MPs among our 63 representatives. Woeful is the word.

The real question is: what to do about it? Nick has previously indicated – and repeated the point in his submission yesterday – that he would consider recommending all-women shortlists be adopted by the party after the next election if he’s unable to point to real progress in improving the Parliamentary party’s representativeness. …

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged , and | 60 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 16th Jul - 7:11pm
    In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith said that by favoring domestic goods and exports, “nations have been taught that their interest consisted in beggaring...
  • User AvatarPaul Reynolds 16th Jul - 6:43pm
    Thank you for comments, Richard Joseph and 'expats'. Trumps core aim is obscured by two things. One is his all-things-are-a-negotiation business philosophy, relying on a...
  • User AvatarAndrew Williams 16th Jul - 6:41pm
    The problem with the referendum has been the winner takes all mentality which had created a lot of bitterness, but now Remainers seem to be...
  • User AvatarAndrew Williams 16th Jul - 6:36pm
    I’d absolutely support the EEA plus EFTA option. Great and brave post to open this up for debate.
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Jul - 6:13pm
    Christopher Haigh - 'During my lifetime from McMillan to May the Tories have basically been the ruling power in the UK, and the EU has...
  • User AvatarFraser Coppin 16th Jul - 6:07pm
    @William Fowler - The emergency break won't necessarily be an easy sell, but then neither is May's convoluted mess. We have to show that we're...