Tag Archives: political parties

Report highlights barriers to women’s participation in politics at every level

This week, a report by the Fawcett Society highlighted barriers impeding women’s progress at every stage of the political proces.

Strategies for Success, Women’s experiences of selection and election in UK Parliament has details of things that work – most notably initiatives like the Ask her to stand campaign – and depressing experiences of discrimination at every level. The report concludes:

Significant challenges to increasing women’s representation remain at every stage of the process to becoming an MP. While a common argument is that political progression is based on merit, in practice, getting selected depends on a number of other factors which may inhibit diversity amongst political candidates and discourage women from standing for election. However, we have found indicators of possible strategies for success. In some cases, the simple act of a political leader making a call for more women to participate played an important part in individuals embarking on the process of selection. There is support too for party programmes intended to support women in this process. Importantly asking women to stand, encouraging them to see themselves as “MP material” and demonstrating that they are seen this way by their party makes a real difference. These interventions are likely to increase the number of women candidates and help equip them for the process. But a change in representation is likely to require tackling the underlying resistance to women in power, the processes that disadvantage them and other underrepresented groups, and our political culture more widely.

It contains experiences of council candidates being deselected while pregnant.

The first steps of getting involved in a political party can be difficult for women if there is no-one like them in their local party as one woman explained:

I do think it’s intimidating if you are a BME woman who isn’t very used to kind of establishment places to come into a room where there’s a lot of old white middle-class men, it can be quite intimidating.

That is why it is important for local parties to have a diverse executive – we need to walk the walk on diversity at every single level of the organisation.

This experience will be familiar to many women:

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Who we are…

An academic study produced by the Mile End Institute, Queen Mary University of London, has appeared today that reveals the character of the main political parties.

Unsurprisingly we are overwhelmingly, up to 96%, anti-Brexit, in favour of the Single Market and Customs Union, and would strongly support a referendum on the outcome of negotiations.  Significantly, Labour’s membership are not far behind us on Brexit, indicating a disjunction with the Labour leadership that is likely to prove contentious, if Labour continue to tergiversate over Brexit.

By contrast the Tory membership not only favour Brexit, …

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How political parties have lost their sense of purpose

How Political Parties Have Lost Their Sense of Purpose

Several years ago I was in a meeting between senior commercial and research staff in a multinational pharmaceutical company. Discussing various research projects, one commercial person declared with obvious exasperation “Don’t forget that we’re here to make money not to indulge in fancy research projects.” The President of R&D, a Scotsman, looked him in the eyes and responded “Laddie, you’re wrong. We’re here to make medicines that make people better. And if we can do that, then we’ll make money as a result.”

This episode illustrates what has happened to business over the last several decades. It has lost its sense of purpose. There was a time when business used to focus on making products that made people’s lives better. If they could do that at a cost that was below what they could sell their products for, they made a profit and prospered. All of that is gone in far too many businesses. Now the primary goal is “shareholder value” – code for short term profit maximization – irrespective of whether social good is created or destroyed.

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Opinion: People power – a different kind of coalition

In the face of rapidly declining membership of political parties we – along with the other parties – face a challenge to survive.

In the past we have prospered as a membership led organisation, supported by a national network of volunteers and activists. Our revenue is derived from a combination of membership fees, donations and small scale fundraising.

Above all else we are members of a party that exists to promote and further our values by electing Liberal Democrats to all tiers of government – local and national. We are not a pressure group or a single issue party.

In light of drastically …

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Opinion: UK democracy and political parties – as seen from space

EarthHow would non-partisan observers see the condition of UK democracy over the decades as viewed from above the  stratosphere ?

With Labour they might see a political party that replaced the Liberals as the party of reform in the 1930s and after WW2, based on representing the ‘working class’ – then working mostly in industry. They might contrast this with today’s Labour party – now mostly funded and controlled by public sector unions – both a strength and weakness in terms of the progression of democracy. A public sector union is a very peculiar animal. Without the constraints of industrial competition, and with senior ‘two-hatted’ civil servants facing conflicts between the public interest and the interests of their unions, one can understand why the Labour party has certain weaknesses as part of the democratic system. Hence their conflation of the public interest with ever-expanding public employment, usually couched in the language of additional benefits to the public, (and a policy cohabitee with Tory centralization). Therein lies Labour’s key weakness as well as its strength.

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This week in Europe… 26-29 November

Lib Dems welcome the launch of free trade negotiations with Japan

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, the party’s European spokesperson on international trade, today welcomed the Council’s decision to authorise the launch of a free trade agreement with Japan, saying it could deliver additional EU exports to Japan worth €43.4bn (around £35bn). She said:

It is time to tap into the huge potential of a free trade agreement with Japan. It is the world’s third largest economy and crucial export market for the

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarjoeb 21st Nov - 1:34am
    Katharine, housing costs are a critical element. With housing benefit frozen at 2011 levels and rents having risen 30% it is virtually impossible to cover...
  • User AvatarMatt (bristol) 20th Nov - 11:48pm
    Speaking of details, and unnecessarily complicating my point with multiple subclauses, I object entirely to this post based on the contention that it has omitted...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Nov - 11:34pm
    Why these horrible things happen who can even imagine, people victims of hatefulness, innocent of ever hurting, typical of those who so often are targeted,...
  • User AvatarMartin 20th Nov - 11:24pm
    I hope that Vince and others in the leadership are looking at what can positive action can be achieved to promote the representation and input...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 20th Nov - 10:50pm
    The lack of an emoji button is very frustrating.
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Nov - 10:42pm
    This has been a very worthwhile exercise, Katharine. Obviously there are lots of ideas (and just as important) a recognition that something should be done....