Posted by: John | November 17, 2009

Lynne, where are the Lib Dem Boudiceas?

I refer to Lynne’s article on female representation in Parliament.

Of course there needs to be more female representation as well as everything else – yet it shouldn’t be at the expense of quality. My mind flicks back at the amazing Patsy Calton and how she achieved her parliamentary ambitions.

With the best will in the world, and Lynne must surely know this, you can have all the wonderful literature in the world, loads of people phoning and knocking on doors yet if there isn’t the WILL, the wholly focussed `Boudicea like` determination of the woman being promoted there won’t be the momentum to put that woman over the top.

To be a target candidate is no different to being a warrior. You’re competing against at least one other `narrative brand` and unless that woman is whole-hearted about the project and at least spends some ruthlessly focussed time in the constituency it’s all a bit like a lucky casino player. Your luck might be in, it might not.

Too many times I’ve seen this happen – a great campaign yet the woman was nowhere to be found. The second problem is not listening to the agent. Or is it a problem that the whip-cracker is male – perhaps we should be promoting more female agents?

Lynne complains that the Commons is 80% men. Why then do women vote for male candidates? Surely, it’s in their grasp to put themselves forward and ask for female electors to vote for them. Could it be that most women, having looked at the 1997  female Labour intake and their ineffectual ways, have decided that they are not that bothered about whether their MP is male or female and are really looking at party policy?

Perhaps at the Council level women differentiate more between male and female candidates particularly in all-out elections.

So, if I were a female target candidate with the ability to do the job I’d make sure I could devote the time and energy to do so as well as performing to that level. Yes, it might sound unfair – yet I have never been to a selection meeting where the fact that someone is female has cropped up as a question. Indeed, I once worked in an inner city two-member ward where both of the candidates were women (and very effective they were too – women who were the main social motivators in that ward came out in force).

That’s why the gender-balance task force stuff doesn’t wash with me. Not because I don’t want women to be elected – just that if you do want to be elected as a Liberal Democrat you have to have the bloody-minded warrior-like attitude to go with it – whether you are a man or a woman.

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Responses

  1. Huh?

    What an odd article.

    I’m perplexed.

    You know only a minority of women were involved in the Suffragettes, do you therefore by your logic proclaim that women were actually happier chain to the kitchen sink and being treated as second class citizens??

    Are you also saying that women who suffer from domestic violence and don’t speak out about it, actually liked it OR deserved it?

    By your insane logic because I voted for my male Lib Dem cllr instead of putting myself forward as a cllr, I actually think men are better at doing things because I think back to the Labour all womens list??!

    Lemme guess.

    You’re the kind of person that sees someone get kicked down and you think they deserve it if they don’t shake that culture of fear and abuse they existed in.

    Lets do statistics.

    Why is it that an overwhelming number of people in prison (80%) grew up in care or/and abusive homes there whole life? Do you not see the correlation?

    So with my logic (which is backed up by statistics and reports), when women are brought up in a culture were they see men ALWAYS and ONLY in control, it takes a while to shift your thinking to be ‘I can do that’.

    It’s not that complex an issue.

  2. You know only a minority of women were involved in the Suffragettes, do you therefore by your logic proclaim that women were actually happier chain to the kitchen sink and being treated as second class citizens??

    No – unless you think that ALL modern day women are chained to the kitchen sink

    Are you also saying that women who suffer from domestic violence and don’t speak out about it, actually liked it OR deserved it?

    No – where in my article do I infer such a thing?

    By your insane logic because I voted for my male Lib Dem cllr instead of putting myself forward as a cllr, I actually think men are better at doing things because I think back to the Labour all womens list??!

    No – you voted for a Liberal Democrat as he is a Liberal Democrat. Why did you not put yourself forward as a Cllr?

    You’re the kind of person that sees someone get kicked down and you think they deserve it if they don’t shake that culture of fear and abuse they existed in.

    Errr, no – in fact in my working life I make it an absolute point to nurture and give people the idea that `they can do it`- though to be fair they are not gearing themselves up to stand for Parliament!

    Let’s put it another way. As a Gay man I just KNEW that I would have to leave my home at an early age. I then put in the hours at college to ensure that when the shit hit the fan I was able to gain employment and look out for myself. I needed this bit of gumption just to find an Admin job let alone to become an MP.

    Whomever is standing for elected office the one thing I look to is `Have they asked themselves the questions `am I ready for the fight?`. Have they looked to their own resources (whether support from others or internally) to inspire others to support them and take them over the top.

    It’s nothing to do with gender, race, class etc it’s to do with that inner steel.

  3. John – the whole thrust of your argument, as I read it seems to be that women lack ‘inner steel’ and don’t work as hard as men:

    “Too many times I’ve seen this happen – a great campaign yet the woman was nowhere to be found”
    What on earth are you on about?
    What an incredibly inflammatory and prejudiced opinion! How old fashioned and quaint. We women get selected, only to sit at home busying ourselves with household chores, rahter than rolling our sleeves up and displaying our ‘inner steel’ – I’m sure you don’t include Lynne in your analogy!

    The reason we have so few women putting themselves forward is partly as Lynne says in her piece, that they are turned off by a male dominated macho politics. An analogy: If you are running a business, and you want to attract more women whose business you rely on, you don’t do all you can to turn off potential female customers, by employing and perpetrating a male dominated environment and workforce. Its the same with politics. I’ve seen it at first hand. When you have elected councillors from diverse communities, you will find it easier to attract and recruit more women and BME candidates and members. Role models are very important. As a BME woman, I would feel uncomfortable being part of a local party that is all male, white, middle class and middle aged.

  4. “Too many times I’ve seen this happen – a great campaign yet the woman was nowhere to be found”
    What on earth are you on about?
    What an incredibly inflammatory and prejudiced opinion! How old fashioned and quaint. We women get selected, only to sit at home busying ourselves with household chores, rahter than rolling our sleeves up and displaying our ‘inner steel’ – I’m sure you don’t include Lynne in your analogy!

    I don’t want to name names but there have been women who have had a whole kitchen sinkful of campaigning behind them only never to actually visit the area they wish to represent.

    What an incredibly inflammatory and prejudiced opinion! How old fashioned and quaint. We women get selected, only to sit at home busying ourselves with household chores, rahter than rolling our sleeves up and displaying our ‘inner steel’ – I’m sure you don’t include Lynne in your analogy!

    See my point above – I doubt if anyone COULD hold you back Meral!

    Why are you putting words into my mouth? I didn’t say women COULDN’T have that inner steel – indeed, I’d say I find it very often both locally and nationally. I’m saying that if that inner steel is absent then I’m afraid whether you’re man, woman, LGBT, green eyed martian – you ain’t gonna be elected.

    The reason we have so few women putting themselves forward is partly as Lynne says in her piece, that they are turned off by a male dominated macho politics. An analogy: If you are running a business, and you want to attract more women whose business you rely on, you don’t do all you can to turn off potential female customers, by employing and perpetrating a male dominated environment and workforce. Its the same with politics. I’ve seen it at first hand. When you have elected councillors from diverse communities, you will find it easier to attract and recruit more women and BME candidates and members. Role models are very important. As a BME woman, I would feel uncomfortable being part of a local party that is all male, white, middle class and middle aged.

    First, we are where we are. Whether you’re Lynne or me or anyone else whether you feel uncomfortable or not is neither here nor there. The point is do you feel comfortable with your own inner resources and time commitments? Do you feel comfortable in saying `fuck `em, I’m gonna do it, I’m going to do my damnedest to win`’

    If you don’t have that REGARDLESS of whomever you are – you ain’t gonna gain that seat. Ask Lynne!

  5. John – I would have accepted what you said about useless candidates if you applied it to both men and women. You aren’t surely suggesting that all male candidates work hard and have ‘inner steel?’

    In any case your argument is about once someone is actually selected. There are too many selection meetings going ahead with only men being shortlisted. The good thing about the decision by Labour to impose AWS for some places, was there was no excuse anymore that ‘women aren’t coming forward’ – it made local parties bloody well go out and find women! I mean we’re everywhere, if you know where to look…..
    You are right about no-one being able to hold me back – when you’ve had to overcome so many barriers from your own community, as some of us have had to, you become very singleminded!
    Given that BME women for example, make up just 0.7% of all councillors, (148 out of 20,000), then sitting back and waiting will not work. Local parties must go out and engage with their local communities. otherwise they are failing to be democratic, fair or to promote equalities.

  6. John – I would have accepted what you said about useless candidates if you applied it to both men and women. You aren’t surely suggesting that all male candidates work hard and have ‘inner steel?’

    No

    My gripe is with the view that people should go out and find people – easier in a way in the BME communities I should think as automatic support for Labour is slipping away from them.

    Believe me even where a party is running the Council it’s difficult to find people let alone where we are trying to target areas. Locally out of six elected Lib Dems three are female all of which I rate highly. Lately we have selected a younger male for a held seat. He just happened to be the preferred candidate.

    I simply think putting the whole thing into a woman vs man thing is a bit counter-productive. What about younger people? Also, the whole system is weighted against Cllrs – not much power yet the press or other parties are willing to highlight any faults or foibles – witness the latest thing about Peter White of Hornchurch Labour and his views of the Queen.


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