Monday, February 12, 2007

In the Pink (or not) with Lembit and Steve Hitchins

I spent the weekend in Peterborough on a training weekend for women on the approved list, courtesy of the GBTF. It was an absolutely brilliant weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed, only one slight incident marring the event, an incident I intend to return to later. All the women were amazing and it was a great privilege to be there. The highlight of the weekend had to be Lembit's "during dinner speech" combined with public speaking training for us MP wannabees. We were invited to ask questions which he refused to answer unless we did so with the correct degree of projection, animation and variation of tone..............hilarious as you might imagine! I have to say Lembit is certainly one of our great assets and it is absurd to suggest that publicity surrounding his private life has done the party any harm. He is someone ordinary people, who do not live their lives perched on tops of pedestals, can and do relate to. He is very clear he has done nothing wrong and frankly my view is that the party is being rather stuffy about him at the moment. I for one put our improvement in the polls down to our greater exposure thanks to him!

Sunday lunch was not quite so amusing. We were addressed by Steve Hitchins, a gentleman I have not had the opportunity to meet before. Steve spoke to us about the diversity fund and I took the opportunity to question him , of course I was not naive enough to expect him to agree that his appointment sent out the wrong message to BME and women members (ie only a white man is good enough to look after your interests), but I was quite shocked by his reply. He responded that he was the best person for the job, despite that assertion not having been tested in open competition, and that to have appointed a BME or woman candidate would have been merely "tokenism" . I have to say I found that deeply insulting, as I did being addressed as "luv", a clear attempt to put me down in front of others. His attitude also upset other women who were present, two of whom came up to me afterwards, gave me a hug and thanked me for speaking out.

Sadly this experience reinforced many of the concerns I have about tackling inequality in our party. On the weekend we were urged to "Walk the Talk" would be nice to think this principle applied across the board.

On a lighter, but sadder note.........I was devastated to discover, on "having my colours done" that I should not've guessed it......SHOCKING PINK! Was advised to get my hair cut too.......sometimes life is so hard :-(


Anonymous said...

I hate to say it Linda but see my postings further down the site - how many female keynote speakers were there?

We have some fantastic inspirational women and women's stories in the party - and you're right, why Steve? If it had at least been contested then it would have been more defensible.

Sadly though this kind of appointment of like for like is making the whole issue harder to combat.

Let's hope that CGB and EMLD are in a position to continue to support such activities in future - let's hope that they have the means to do so.

Anonymous said...

It beggars belief that someone who was leader of Islington Council, a place that has been at the cutting edge of equalities for 20 years, would call a colleague 'luv', and then claim that having a woman or an ethnic minority to head up a Diversity Fund, would be 'tokenism'
He would never have got away with this when he was a councillor.
He has lost all credibility by these actions.
I heard that when he lost his seat on the Council, someone suggested to Ming that they should give him something to do.
How sad, that Ming has unwittingly entrusted such a person to any position. He should just shut up and dish out the funds as appropriate.

Chris Paul said...

The Liberal Democrat party seems like an appalling party for those supposedly targeted by Shit-chin's portfolio.

Time to ship out to a party which is "a political party" rather than one which is "apolitical" at best and "politically incorrect" most of the time.

Orange Book - go to the Tories. Social-minded - go to Labour. The complete and utter fiasco of the Lib Dems and equality should be the signal for mass desertions. Even the Tories are now treating women and black and minority ethnic communities better.

This beggars belief it really does.

Linda Jack said...

To Chris I would say, thanks for the advice, but the idea that things are really much different in the other two parties is fairyland, don't forget I have many friends in both so I do get some feedback. And to allow one man to dictate our response would be a complete cop out. No I am afraid the Tories have always been too selfish too driven by the versted interests of the private sector and too right wing for me, and whatever my sympathies with some aspects of Labour Party policy I am not an authoritarian Stalinist and never will be. Whatever sympathy I may have had for them has been totally scuppered by their total disregard of human life and human rights, not only Iraqis but our own children who we sent as cannon fodder. So, my liberal instincts mean I have to stay and fight if need be, there are enough good people in my party to make that fight winnable. xxx

Anonymous said... know my thoughts on what this guy said!

But what I have to pick on here is the fact you have been told to cut your hair and stop wearing red - you're gorgeous just the way you are!

Martin x