London Conference getting it right on Gender Balance

I went to one of the best London Spring Conference's in years on Tuesday night. Let's face it, it was a great line up with both Brian Paddick and Nick Clegg speaking. As Jonathan Fryer says on his blog, Nick is doing really well in endearing himself to the membership with humour and just a general feeling of accessibility, like he did at the federal Spring Conference in Liverpool.

Many people say that whilst David Cameron may come across well on TV and Radio, in the flesh he is completely lacking in charisma. Well, Nick comes across well on TV and is even better in the flesh!!! I may not currently be a cat owner, but I used to be!

But, what was really good to see at the London Spring Conference were the number of women being elected or on candidate lists, or otherwise involved in the Lib Dems in London, including myself! In fact, you could almost say there was a lack of gender balance at Hamilton House last night; in favour of women for once!

First we had four recent council by election winners from across London, all women; the Baroness Sally Hamwee chairing a session; Jill Fraser, a Lib Dem councillor in Camden introduced Baroness Sarah Ludford MP and then during the policy consultation session, myself, Chamali Fernando and Caroline Pigeon were all involved in facilitating what was an excellent discussion.

So, we have a had a good year, getting in more diverse councillors, getting great women like Dinti Batstone to number 3 on the Euro List, and getting 2 out of the top five places in the GLA list.

This truly was a celebration of the fantastic female talent that we have in London; surely nobody can suggest that there aren't enough women who are 'good enough' in London?


Mark Valladares said...
20 Mar 2008, 13:25:00


Many thanks for your kind words. Ironically, as the first male Chair of the Regional Conference Committee for some years, I appear to have made some advances on the diversity front. Not enough, mind, but a start nonetheless.

Work has already started on the autumn conference, and I hope to commission at least one women-only training session from the Campaign for Gender Balance, as well as training sessions from the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and Liberal Youth.

I'm very conscious that our conference is an opportunity to showcase the talent that exists in this Region, regardless of gender, ethnicity or the other categorisations that are applied, and would hope to encourage everyone to feel that they can play a role.

However, the more feedback the better, especially ideas that would increase participation and interaction, making the event more relevant, more interesting and more attractive to members and activists across London.

There are plans afoot to broaden the reach of our publicity material and make registration easier. Maximising attendance and income from other sources will hopefully allow us to reduce/freeze registration costs in future years, making the event more accessible.

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