Monday, March 05, 2007

More Conference Reflections

The Trident fringe organised by PCA on Friday evening was excellent, even if Brendan Carlin (who chaired) hadn't noticed he had been ignoring calling the women to ask questions, until I pointed it out to him! After that, it has to be said, he called a lot more women. Sometimes I feel like a broken record on this one. My experience at fringes is always the same when the meeting is chaired by a man. On average one woman called to every 10 men. At the Meeting the Challenge event last year there were 14 white male speakers, no women and the only BME speaker was at the joint Muslim Christian Forum meeting. Someone also pointed out to me that whilst amendment two fell in the Trident debate, there were far more women voting for it than men. So, very interesting when we are thinking about policies which appeal to Given the whipping that clearly went on in this debate (have you ever seen so many parliamentarians in a debate before?) it begs the question, if we were as representative as a party as we say we think we should be..........namely at least 32 women MPs, then perhaps the whipping would have been less successful.........(?)

When I was the first woman to speak in the Meeting the Challenge debate at autumn conference, after 14 men (I know, I was counting again!) I had to ask delegates if they noticed anything different about me. Afterwards someone admitted that until I said anything he hadn't noticed.

So I was encouraged to attend the EMLD fringe on Saturday where Simon Woolley from Operation Black Vote gave us a bit of a roasting. Clearly those there were committed to seeing our party develop in diversity, but the message must get out further than just the committed few. Norman Lamb and Simon Hughes, two real champions for the cause, both attended and spoke encouragingly about their commitment and desire to see change. Despite my concerns about the administration of the Diversity Fund, I hope that will go some way to increasing diversity in our parliamentary party. However, we must also recognise the work that needs to be done at grass roots level. As well as a fund to support parliamentary candidates what about a fund to support BME and women members to be able to attend conferences?

Sorry, slightly sidelined there. Another highlights for me was the Q&A with Nick Clegg and the debate on crime, disappointingly none of the working group members got called to speak but I did get a mention in Graham Tope's speech, which I hope was evidence that I am not always critical of the party (a sin I have apparently been charged with!).

Got home on Sunday evening to one of those circular texts from my artist pal Chila Burman it said "A true friend is like a good bra, hard to find, lifts u up, gives u support and is always close to yr heart..." aaah..... very appropriate since one of Chila's most celebrated works is a collage of bras called "Hello Girls"- a feminist response to the famous Wonderbra advert "Hello Boys"........see, I do talk about things other than politics!

I kept forgetting my camera but here are a couple of pix from Saturday evening.
As you can tell I have had the day off and posting on my blog is the perfect distraction from all that filing, tidying and general catching up I should be doing...........ah well...........I did make babaganoush, couscous and chicken satay too......oh, and caught up with the Archers!


gerry said...

Great post!....the conference you spoke about is indeed an interesting anecdote of what befalls a women in a patriarchal world. Anyways do drop by my blog coz am sure you would love your visit.

Linda Jack said...

Thanks Gerry, and I am just off to visit your blog before I head off to visit a pal in Hassocks.