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Day: June 20, 2013

Why men have to be involved with Lib Dem Women

Last month Lib Dem Women was launched – an amalgamation of the Campaign for Gender Balance and Women Liberal Democrats and they are imploring members to sign up and join in making the Lib Dems a party which encourages women to get all the way to the top without any barriers due to their gender.

Now it may surprise one or two of you but I am indeed a member of this group and as such I got sent through nomination papers for their executive the other morning. This got me thinking. Then a couple of days ago a Lib Dem member blogged and tweeted about how Paddy Ashdown had declared that he wouldn’t be sitting on any all male panels and plenty of people RT it in my twitter timeline but she has subsequently deleted the blog post so whether this was not true or she decided to delete the blog for other reasons well I just don’t know.

The main point though is that members – mainly female members – were delighted that Paddy had decreed that he wasn’t going to stand on all male panels and therefore surely members would also want at least one man to be involved with Lib Dem Women? Makes sense, no?

Now I’m probably not the guy for this. I firmly disagree with positive discrimination when it comes to PPC’s and believe that the progress of women within the party will have to come from other avenues. Unlike the other main parties the LDs do not have any natural safe seats where women can be elected and learn on the job. Therefore women (and men) who aren’t already MPs will face an uphill battle to get the nomination for a winnable seat and it is harder (for both sexes) to get their foot in the door with the party due to this.

In my opinion the best way to deal with this is to have gender equality firmly on the map internally. Now whether this means that a certain % of all national internal bodies be made up of men and women or some other way I don’t know. This maybe why there is a group to discuss all these matters. For example I could propose that all internal bodies have a male and a female as Chair/Vice and that people vote for a list of people and the person with most votes gets the chair and the next highest person of the opposite gender gets vice. That is a possibility but recently Lib Dem Youth voted for a female chair and vice and that has been roundly rejoiced so in my scenario that would have failed to happen unless we insert a ‘well unless the two highest votes are for women and therefore sod the quota system.’

Also what happens if say for a national party group not enough people of the opposite gender apply? Say we have a 40% minimum of one gender in all national party groups and in elections only 27% of the candidates are of a certain gender. Then what do we do? Also training is of vital importance. Getting people interested in politics is hard but when they are interested then you give them the most backup you can. For many young people politics is an interest but unless that interest is nurtured then it can dissipate and I think that is similar to issues LDW face. If women don’t believe that they can progress then they won’t bother but if we can show there is a route either further up the party internally or towards being a PPC then interest will ignite.

There are many questions to answer but I really do think that Lib Dem Women should not just be made up of women because doesn’t that doesn’t really help their remit of gender equality. So I would implore a man or two who have joined Lib Dem Women to put themselves forward to become members of the executive. I’m more than comfortable with the main positions being all filled by women (but if they had a male vice for example that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but there are eight positions available on the executive outside the main positions and two or three of them hopefully will be filled up with men who also advocate gender equality and can give a different viewpoint to help aid the whole situation along.

Update: I’m told that Labour actually outlawed internal party election quotas which is a bit of a bugger considering I just spent a good while advocating that. Oh well. My main point still stands though. Need to find ways to excite and show enthusiastic women (as well as men and youth) that there is a future of progression if they want that and I think having different viewpoints is vital to working out the best way forward for gender equality within the party.

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Nick Clegg’s comments Re: Lawson/Saatchi that have caused a stir shall we say.

Nick Clegg has put himself in some hot water this morning following these comments regarding what he would have done if he had seen the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi incident/assault:

What a difficult question. I find it so difficult to imagine… I don’t know what happened, I’m like you, I don’t know what happened …

When you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves. If, of course, something descends into outright violence that is something different.

I just don’t know, there was this one photograph, I don’t know whether that was a fleeting thing. I’m really sorry Elizabeth [the name of the caller], I am at a loss to put myself into that position without knowing exactly [what happened].

You are asking me to comment on photographs everybody has seen in the papers – we don’t know if that was a fleeting moment so I’d rather not comment on a set of events that I wasn’t …

Let’s say if a man who is much stronger than the woman is physically threatening the woman then I hope everybodies’ instincts will be to protect the weaker person, to protect the person who is likely to be hurt.

Trying to re-imagine how you might react to very specific events which still are not entirely clear, that is the bit that I feel it is difficult to now comment.

The thing is…no-one knows exactly how they would have reacted. It is something I bang on about all the time. No-one can say they know how they would have reacted to a situation they were not actually involved in. No-one would have known exactly what was going on. You can’t say exactly what you would have seen or heard. So answering a hypothetical with a lack of knowledge is basically taking a stab in the dark at an answer.

Now of course what Nick should have said was ‘I’d have seen and heard everything, stepped in, asked Nigella to go and sit with my wife whilst I restrained Charles and called the police’ but of course that isn’t an honest answer because he would not have known what he would have seen or heard if he was a fellow diner in the restaurant.

Nick has issued the following statement after being lambasted for his comments:

“I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence.

“As I said on the radio, my instinct would always be to try and protect the weaker person, to try and protect the person who otherwise would be hurt.

“But I was asked a very specific question about how I would have reacted to a specific incident which I did not see.

“I said I did not know how I would have reacted to that specific incident because I do not know what happened.

“The point I was making is that I don’t know what other people in the restaurant saw and I don’t want to make a judgement on their reaction.”

Yvette Cooper (who is actually a pretty awesome MP) has jumped in:

Nick Clegg revealed how little he understands violence against women this morning.

Far too often violence against women is dismissed as fleeting or unimportant. Too often public institutions don’t take it seriously enough. Domestic violence is still a hidden crime – and victims suffer or are ignored as a result.

Mr Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assault and the images from the restaurant are disturbing.

Ministers should show they are prepared to condemn this kind of violence against women and that they recognise the seriousness of domestic abuse. Nick Clegg completely failed to do that this morning.

A quite wonderful statement. Doesn’t really connect the truth with the words but in politics we all know that doesn’t matter. She makes out like Nick Clegg thinks violence against women is unimportant, which I think it is pretty clear he doesn’t think. The best bit is Yvette Cooper doesn’t even believe what she just said in a statement. she knows Nick Clegg doesn’t think this but is happy to use anything to further her point. This my friends is why I dislike politics at times. People on purpose telling mis-truths in aid of furthering their viewpoint/cause.

The long and the short of it is thus. No-one can tell you with 100% accuracy how they would have reacted to a hypothetical situation. If you think you can then you are a liar. You can be 99% sure but you can never be 100%. Nick Clegg doesn’t think domestic violence against woman is unimportant. Nick Clegg actually answered the question honestly but the longer you get sucked into the world of politics the more you understand that honesty isn’t a good weapon. Spin, spin, spin is the name of the game and if you can spin it like Shane Warne did to Matt Gatting all those years ago then you’ll be doing just fine.

Sadly this story has the potential to actually blow up thanks to the nature of it but when you actually read his words you’ll see that he was asked a specific, hypothetical question and he couldn’t answer it in the way he should’ve answered it without lying. So he told the truth and that hasn’t helped anybody.

Oh the joys of politics…

The funny thing is my next blog will be about Lib Dem Women…

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.