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Letter from the chair (from November 2012 newsletter)

November 12, 2012 2:00 PM
By Dr Miranda Whitehead


Dear Members,

After a successful conference the joint executives of CGB and WLD have been working towards the new organisation for women, which is currently going under the working title of Liberal Democrat Women. We have had many suggestions for the name, but this is the one that most of us agree on. Let us know if you feel it isn't acceptable.

There have been some party meetings concerning the role of women in politics (52% of the population I might add) and the way the party addresses the concerns that women have. Some meetings have been more successful than others but we constantly repeat our message. To that end we were a visible presence on the UK Feminista march to parliament on Wednesday October 24th (see: http://ukfeminista.org.uk/).

The speakers at the pre-march rally were Yvette Cooper MP for Labour, Amber Rudd MP for the Conservatives and Caroline Lucas MP for the Greens. As there did not appear to be a Liberal Democrat voice I introduced myself to Kat Banyard (the organiser of UK Feminista). She immediately invited me to speak for the Lib Dems, stating that they had been told that no one was available. A clear mix up, but it did give me a chance to speak and to champion some of our policies that support women. David Steel's Abortion Act, Jo Swinson's body confidence campaign - and I gave Lizzie Jewkes credit for the £10,000 tax policy which as we (and the hall of 350+ people) now know came from her work on tax policy. We have been in touch with our senior women politicians to ask how the mix up occurred and have made the point that if Liberal Democrat Women were known as the organisation through which these requests were made then that sort of potential muddle would be less likely to happen.

Clockwise from top left: Yvette Cooper MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Dr Miranda Whitehead and Amber Rudd MP.

Yvette Cooper (Photographs courtesy of Jessie Cohen and Guy Bell) Caroline Lucas (Photographs from Jessie Cohen and Guy Bell)
Amber Rudd (Jessie Cohen and Guy Bell) Dr Miranda Whitehead (Jessie Cohen)

All photographs courtesy of Jessie Cohen and Guy Bell (taken from: http://ukfeminista.org.uk/)

We continue to fight the changes to child benefit; tying benefit to income now divides women into haves and have-nots rather than seeing our common need. Its universal status upheld the principle that women as carers could find themselves vulnerable if tied to an abusive partner or a failing marriage. However there is good work being done by Liberal Democrats on childcare and early years education for the most deprived children, the pupil premium, support for the abortion act and tax policies for the lowest earners.

I do want to stress that it is really important that we support our party in government. It was a difficult decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives, and seeing the problems that David Cameron has at the moment it is obviously just as hard for the Conservatives. It is easy being in opposition. Look at the Labour party's opportunistic vote on Europe with hard line Eurosceptic Tories in the Commons this week. But Liberal Democrats have made difficult decisions at a time of great national and global economic turmoil and we only can guess what a right wing conservative government would have done unchecked.

Remember to vote for your European candidates, there are some great women candidates who deserve your vote, and vote for the party committees.

Finally: Look at the progressive women website (www.progressivewomen.org.uk) and their blog on the party conference " Lib Dems - The Party for Progressive Women?" We could be!

Best wishes to you all,

WLD Chair, Dr Miranda Whitehead