Thursday, May 09, 2013

Jo Swinson and Shirley Williams on what needs to change at Westminster

The House Magazine has a joint interview with these two leading Liberal Democrats on  the challenges of being a female politician, what has changed in the last 50 years, and what still needs to change:
Jo Swinson: Some things have changed for the better. Obviously we now have 146 women MPs – still nowhere near enough by the way, but we have significantly more. Women don’t feel they can’t attack other women in the chamber on a political basis. I don’t think that there are as many personal attacks and I often find that if you look at the environment at Women and Equalities questions, and debates on international development, you tend to get more women in the chamber. The committee I've just finished sitting on, the Children and Families Bill, was a majority of women which is the first time I've ever seen that. And it’s not that you always agree, but women disagree in a slightly different way ... 
Shirley Williams: I should add that the House of Lords is a much easier place to be a woman in. There’s a very fixed ethos of politeness. There’s a gentle hiss if people are rude to one another. They don’t like at all people that personally attack other people. That encourages women in particular and it may be why there are quite a few women from ethnic minorities in the Lords. That measures what is still wrong with some of the attitudes and approaches in the Commons.
I also like Shirley's comment on the old Lady Members' Room:
It had an ironing board in it, much used by Mrs Thatcher who was very keen on ironing. The funny thing was, that was about all it had. It had a sofa in case you felt faint and it had an ironing board.

No comments: