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Day: January 5, 2012

Are the folk at Lib Dem Voice sexist pigs or is it just the whole Lib Dem Party who are?

Now that it a title and a half *sits back and dreams of a job being a tabloid sub editor and returns to the situation of sitting in his PJ bottoms with a half eaten galaxy caramel on his desk* oh well we can all have a bit of escapism. Obviously the title is way over the top. I like to do that every so often but there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by arguably everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Oh on a second the phones is going:

Caller: Hi Neil, it’s your editor speaking.

Neil: Oh hi Ed, what can I do for you?

Caller: Just reading the opening to the blog post you are writing and I think you made an erroneous error.

Neil: Oh, how so?

Caller: You put the word arguably in the previous sentence before you started typing out our fictional phone call.

Neil: Ah yes, how remiss of me. I shall re-write.

Caller: Good job. Keep me the blogging. Maybe someday a publication will finally call you but don’t hold you breath.

Neil: Cheers Ed. Always nice to know you have faith in my abilities.

So as I was saying, there is a real question to be had – and one that has been mused by everyone’s favourite blogger Caron Lindsay. Over on her post entitled Lib Dem Voice’s Liberal Voice of 2011 – Vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton she makes the point that only one of the shortlist for said award carries her reproductive organs on the inside of her body instead of dangling out and looking rather ugly (I think I’m paraphrasing but you should get the jist).

You can read the full list of candidates behind this link but there are seven men, one group of people and a woman on the shortlist.

One thing should be noted at this point which probably gets the good folk at Lib Dem Voice off the hook already regarding my sexist pig taunt and that is it wasn’t the editorial staff who chose the shortlist. It was indeed the members. Apparently there were 230 nominations and a person (or group of people) needed five nominations to make it to the public vote. So the rules for selection of the shortlist are quite clear and unless they secretly deleted a few nominations and cackled around their cauldrons then we can disspell the myth (that I created but others have been saying) that they are sexist pigs (again my terminology).

So that leaves us with the question as to whether it is in fact the Lib Dem Party members (either as a whole or as a group who took part in this survey) who are sexist pigs. Now I don’t know for sure just how many people took part in this survey. I haven’t approached LDV to ask for that information because. Well just because. However I am going to hypothesise that at least 25% of those who filled in the survey were women. I suspect it was in fact much nearer a 50/50 split but I think a 25% minimum would be accepted by all.

So 25% of nominations were from women and still only one women got the five votes needed to make the shortlist. This doesn’t bode well. Are women sexist too against their own kind in a strange case of hating themselves? It is a possibility but I suspect a rather long one. What is more likely is that people struggled to come up with candidates considering in a way what a bad year it was for liberals around the Globe.

Looking at the shortlist there are certainly one or two people (or groups) on there that don’t scream out either ‘liberal’ or ‘done a great job of being a public liberal’ this year but that is just my opinion. It is an opinion shared by many but it was an open vote. Isn’t that how we do things as a party? Isn’t being liberal about free speech and giving people the right to say and vote for who they want in situations like this? I didn’t see any small print when joining up to the party that promoted positive discrimination and that we had to hit certain quotas for things.

I have some sympathy with Caron as it is clear that some of the women she mentions are more deserving of making the shortlist. However the members who filled in that survey – and as far as I’m aware it was an open survey available to any member – didn’t nominate any women apart from the future President of the United States of America the required five times. Enough women voted in the survey and they didn’t believe that any other woman was deserving.

In the comments underneath her blog we discussed the piece and she made a point replying to my viewpoint on the lack of women in the BBC SPOTY shortlist, I said, ‘I know you had a similar PoV regarding BBC SPOTY and the male led short-list. I didn’t. Not because I’m a man but because no woman excelled in a sport or an event that captured the imagination of the public. How can you win Sports Personality of the Year award if most people haven’t heard of you? I’d heard of all the women you listed but that is because I’m a sports nut. However I wouldn’t recognise some of them if I bumped into them in the street. Now there is a debate to be had about whether women’s sports get enough exposure but that is a debate for another comment. This is already far longer than intended.’

Caron replied with, ‘Just look at any BBC panel discussion or sports personality list. And your comment on the latter is a bit chicken and egg. How are these sports going to capture the imagination of the public without coverage?’

A good question and one I will get into in another blog post in the near future. There are good reasons why that is the case but this piece is on the people at Lib Dem Voice and the sexism within our party.

The fact I put together a long blog post on this was due to this comment, ‘I do worry about our party sometimes. I’d love to see the gender balance of the survey participants to see if my theory that boys choose boys applies in this instance.’

Now we know the split between male and female members of the Lib Dems is fairly even at the last time I saw a public breakdown of the figures (I tried to find a link but I can’t – I did read this a few months ago – I think the figures were from 2009 though). So the potential people filling in this survey was fairly even. I know there are plenty of female Lib Dem bloggers and plenty who comment on Lib Dem Voice. So there was more than enough women to get more women on to this shortlist if indeed boys vote for boys and vice versa. Is it shortlist or short-list? Chrome doesn’t like the term ‘shortlist’. Anyway so her hypothesis that ‘boys chose boys’ is an interesting one but not one I can agree with. I’m pretty sure most (if not all) members voted for the people that sprung into their head first when faced with this question.

I don’t think many people who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ are sexist. I don’t think many who reply to these things consciously think ‘need to vote for men to keep down women’. I just don’t think that. I think in more likelihood more people (both men and women) nominated men because the women highlighted as potential nominees by Caron in her piece are not all known well to the liberal community. They are outstanding candidates for what they have done but how many people would think of them when asked ‘who is the liberal voice of the year?’ Not too many and that has been seen by how the public and open nominations went.

So we can do one of two things. Have a judging panel of respected people to put together the shortlist instead of an open nomination. We could do that but all the issues over the Blog of the Year Awards showed that some people don’t like that as there weren’t enough women nominated there either. So this time they went with an open nomination and not enough women were nominated there either. The poor folk at Lib Dem Voice just can’t win!

To summerise. The folk at Lib Dem Voice aren’t sexist pigs and the people that nominated in this process aren’t sexist either. Now if you want to ask the question as to whether the women mentioned had their stories covered in high enough detail by the media in this country and around the Globe then that is most certainly a fair and reasonable question to ask. However believing that ‘boys vote for boys’ and that there is an agenda at play. I think that is a bit of a stretch.

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Guess whose back, back again, James Allen’s back on F1 broadcasting, tell a friend…

My old friend Charles Sale is back and this time he is reporting that James Allen is back on F1 commentary taking over from David Croft as the voice of the sport on BBC Radio 5live. Also when James Allen is unavailable then Jonathan Legard will take his place. It should be noted here that Charles Sale has got a lot wrong regarding F1 coverage within the past few months so take his comments with a pinch of salt. I know I do. However for the sake of this blog post I’m assuming that it is accurate.

I was never a James Allen fan. I make no bones about it. I thought he was an excellent pit-lane reporter and was the best I had seen in that role until Ted Kravitz rode into town (or the pit-lane). He got the job of Murray Walker’s successor based on the strong recommendation of Murray himself. However as we all know it is the hardest job in any form of employment to follow a beloved and successful person. Whoever follows Sir Alex Ferguson will have a hard job on their hands. Look at how X Factor struggled without Simon Cowell. Success is hard but when you get it – you’ve got it. Following on though is an extremely difficult task.

James Allen clearly had (still has) a great F1 brain but that isn’t what you need first and foremost when being a commentator on a live sporting event. You are there to narrate what you are seeing for the audience. You aren’t there to provide technical analysis or insight into what is going on. Your co-commentator and pit-lane reporters are there to do that. Your job is to put everything into context and make the event easy and enjoyable to follow. This is something James didn’t have at the start of his stint in the F1 commentary box for ITV.

He did get better. Of that I think there is little doubt. However I will always think back to Jenson Button’s first win and how he acted and shudder:

When you compare that to Murray Walker’s great call as Damon Hill, a long-time friend and son of his long-time friend Graham Hill won the World Championship in 1996 you can tell the difference:

In commentary you are remembered for the big moments and if you nail them you’ll be ok. Whether James Allen is more suited for radio we’ll find out in due course if this report is true. In a way I hope it is as I do think he has something to give F1 broadcasting. He got a tough break following the voice of a sport and he did get better but once the boo birds were out his future was sealed when ITV pulled out of the sport. He said himself that he didn’t even apply for the same job with the BBC for the 2009 season.

So is James Allen returning to the commentary box, possibly splitting time with dumped BBC TV lead commentator Jonathan Legard? We’ll know in due course but if he does I think it will certainly be a good move to the Beeb. James Allen can repair his broadcasting reputation. His F1 website is one of the best and his qualities as a journalist are clear for all to see. I suppose it is all down to James himself to see if he still has the thirst for live broadcasting. I suspect he does as once you have it, it never leaves you…

Edit: James Allen has now been confirmed. Score one for Charlie Sale!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.