Willie Rennie to highlight gender balance in his Conference speech

We know that Willie Rennie is determined to improve the appalling gender balance record of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. He has to persuade a party which has historically rejected any proposals for positive action in candidate selection to adopt proposals to be drawn up by a working group made up of himself, Jo Swinson, Sophie Bridger, Sheila Ritchie and Fred Mackintosh. The ultimate aim is for half of Scotland’s Liberal Democrat parliamentarians to be women within 6 years.

The proposals will be debated at the Scottish Party’s Spring Conference just a few weeks before next year’s Holyrood elections. You can’t accuse Willie of not being willing to take a risk. He will be talking about it in Saturday’s speech to Autumn Conference too:

I want our party to change.

All our MPs in the United Kingdom are men. And four out of our five MSPs are men too.

I know many in the party instinctively do not favour positive action but I need to be frank with you.  Nothing else has worked.

That is why I want you to support the steps I am taking.

I have formed a working group which I am chairing to draw up proposals to put before you at the spring conference.

My aim is that within the next six years we will have a bigger and stronger team of parliamentarians that will be truly representative of our party and of the society we seek to represent.

I want half of our parliamentarians to be women.

The status quo is no longer an option.

It’s a step change that we need to take and I am determined that we will take.

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  • paul barker 22nd Oct '15 - 2:07pm

    And that needs to be done with rest of The Federal Party too. We know it can be done, we know what works, we just have to decide.

  • Bruce Hosie 22nd Oct '15 - 5:15pm

    Any introduction of female only short lists is just wrong and where does it stop. Any attempt by the party to discriminate on the basis of gender will not get my vote. I could accept 50 50 lists but ultimately it has to be for local members to decide whom they wish to be their candidate, you do not end discrimination of women in politics by discriminating against men. I should not be barred from standing as a candidate on the basis of my gender should all female short lists come in. I have never agreed with this approach and would have a lot of soul searching to do should such a policy be introduced.

  • “The ultimate aim is for half of Scotland’s Liberal Democrat parliamentarians to be women within 6 years.”

    The timescale of 6 years is diabolical and does not respect women Scottish Lib Dems could learn much from the SNP who have loads and loads of women MSPs and a 50/50 of men and women in their cabinet.

  • “The ultimate aim is for half of Scotland’s Liberal Democrat parliamentarians to be women within 6 years.” going by present “success” that means if we want half women that means we need to find one only.

  • Willie, Get a grip. The issue is whether we have any Lib Dems parliamentarians at all in six years time. Stop running away from the crisis and face up to the legacy of the last five years.

  • John Barrett 25th Oct '15 - 11:51am

    I agree with David………….Bald men fighting over a comb comes to mind,

    Better to concentrate on having more MPs or MSPs of any gender, rather than ruling out 50% of potential candidates in our better seats – just because they are men.

    Unless something radical changes before next May, the poor results of the last five years will continue and we will still be on the road to losing more of the few remaining elected members, rather than gaining parliamentary seats. If in doubt, just watch out for the result in the Oldham by-election.

    Willie and his working group would be better out campaigning, rather than spending their time in a room working on this proposal.

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