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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Women in Westminster

Here's something I've been pondering. Perhaps you could help me out.

We clearly do not have enough women in the Westminster Party and especially The Commons - just 7 out of 57 MPs, with 2 of those set to step down in 2015. We have no women in the cabinet, nor does it look likely that we will before the next General Election. None of this is good, it's a problem for the party and needs addressing. I think we all agree with that.

But then I read something like this from the LSE entitled 'Men only? The Parliamentary Liberal Democrats and gender representation'. Now, the piece  doesn't really say anything different from what I've just said above. But it really got my back up.


Because it's a very one eyed view of the issue. The author seems to have made no effort (or has conveniently forgotten) to find out what the party is doing to address the issue - for example, the nomination in key (and very winnable) seats of Julie Porken, Jane Dodds, Lisa Smart and Layla Moran.

So I took took to Twitter to bemoan the one eyed ness of the piece. But it's left me wondering. The article is clearly one sided - but I do concur with its central point: we may be making some progress but do we do still have a problem getting enough women into Westminster.

So should I just shut up and leave be? Or am I right to call the LSE up on it?


  1. No you are right to pull them up as the situation is slightly more nuanced. I agree with you about the lack of women MPs in Westminster but the LSE analysis is a lazy analysis. For example, in GE 2010 we lost Harrogate, SE Cornwall, Richmond Park, Camborne and Redruth, Truro & Falmouth, York Outer which all had previously had Lib Dem MPs or were notionally ours. Also, if we had achieved just a few more percentage points in our top 100 targets, more seats where the Lib Dem candidate was a woman would have fallen our way. We had strong showings by women candidates in Watford, Durham, Merthyr & Glasgow North to name a few. Going into the future we must ensure that more women are selected in winnable seats. I would also like to add to your list the excellent Guildford PPC Kelly-Marie Blundell. As has been stated ad nauseam, we don't really have safe seats. That doesn't give us a get out clause, it just means (as usual) we have to work that little bit harder. With Alan Beith, Andrew Stunnell, Ming Campbell all standing down in some of our safer seats, we have an opportunity. This isn't a problem of being a Lib Dem as is often lazily portrayed in the media. In the Euro Parliament we have some excellent women MEPs (5 out of 12) and Caroline Pidgeon in London and Kirsty Williams in Wales are excellent leaders. In short, we have to do better but when analysing let's look at all the facts.

  2. Thanks Daniel, that's exactly how I feel. and you're right to pull me up on missing out Kelly-Marie too

  3. Richard: I had the same feeling. For one thing, a one-sided piece like that actually damages the cause.