On SkyNew.Com in a couple of hours

Yes, I nearly forgot to mention. I am doing my more or less monthly slot on SkyNews.Com this evening looking at the 'hot' stories from the web today.

In fact, I'd better go as the car will be waiting for me and I don't want to be late!! I'm in enough trouble as it is, as I double booked it with a School Governors meeting...

Mine are not sexual encounter clubs. They are gentlemen's clubs.

Ha! What a euphemism that is!

Frankly, I think the fact that Peter Stringfellow has come out against lap dancing clubs being reclassified, as sexual encounter clubs rather than in the same bracket as café's, is a sure fire sign that it ought to be done.

Don't get me wrong, if people want to go to lap dancing clubs it is there prerogative to do so and I wouldn't want to outlaw it (I am a liberal after all). But I do think that councils need to be able to use regulation to limit where they are. So they are not in places frequented by children or people who have no choice but to walk past the clubs, the adverts and the clientele.

Has any body driven out from Leeds Station in a cab recently? Seen the adverts for Leeds soon to arrive largest lap dancing club? Seen, the adverts for plenty of girls available all the time? Am I the only one who doesn't know where to look when I go past?

Like I say, I'm not a prude, and if men (or women) want to pay for girls to gyrate in front of them and girls want to earn their money that way then fine; but I don't have to have it shoved in my face, so to speak, do I? Or brought to the attention of young people before either they or their parents really want to talk about it? There must have been a thousand 'What's a lap dancing club, Mummy? Questions already!

Gentleman's Clubs indeed! What's gentlemanly about having a lap dance?

If you want to get in the book, you better get on the site NOW!!!!

31st December 2008.

Yes, that's the deadline for getting your entry into Who's Who in the Lib Dems Online and then in the book. I will be pulling everybody's entries of the database after 31st December and pulling together all the info for an actual hardcopy book to be available at the Spring Conference.

If you are not on the website then you cannot be in the book; that's it! My final offer!

Plus, I certainly recommend to all of you who want to be known only by Mr or Cllr at the top of your entry and therefore remain largely anonymous to those of us perusing the site (who didn't read the instructions then?) that you change it to something more traditional; like your name.

Of course, you will still be able to add yourself to the database and update your entry as and when but those additions and changes will not be reflected in the printed version.

If you've forgotten your username and/or password, that's fine...there's two links to help you out just underneath the log in section.

You can also subscribe to Who in the Lib Dems Online as well!!

Tories have a good old barny about women candidates...

I picked up this discussion on Conservative Home via CiF. I have to say that much of the debate around diversity and why women are not being picked is far more sophisticated that ours. I might also add that they are having a debate. There's always a few 'best person for the job' commenters but many of the people commenting do not view it as just a coincidence or a naturally occurring phenomenon that 85% of selections in the last few months have been of men. Most refreshingly they are actually having a proper conversation about it. We always get stuck on the discussion around positive discrimination, collectively condemn it and then go off to think about something else. And so, not much changes...

There is on the ConservativeHome comments thread serial recognition that the problem is not with women or ethnic minorities being good enough but that the role of candidate (and in their case MP) does not attract good quality women and minorities. That this debate is taking place with the arguments in place, tells me that on the path to organisational cultural change they are further on than we are. Or at least they are on Conservative Home.

For example, they talk about the roles that women are not occupying needing to change in order to attract high quality women who have choices in their life and may make decisions using different criteria on what to do with their life than their quality male peers.

I know that, of all the things I do in terms of voluntary or community work, I make the most difference in being a school governor or on the Executive and chairing working groups on my borough police consultative groups. These are groups that are keen to utilise my experience and skills developed whilst running my own rather successful business and not treat me like a ingénue just because I haven't been delivering focuses for the last 15 years. Many of my friends and family think it would be a much more logical thing for me to focus on those activities.

Still, I am the PCA Rep on the Diversity Engagement Group and I'm looking forward to see how we can make real and lasting cultural changes to the way we do things in the Lib Dems.

My logic, by the way, for sticking with the Lib Dems and continuing to campaign within the party for real diversity is that I can make a far bigger impact on society and equality by helping to sort out the problems around representation in my chosen political party. Just sticking with the current system and making sure I am head and shoulders above my male peers to try and get selected for a seat, and then keeping my head down and quiet, will not make it easier for those coming up with or behind me.

I don't want us to be doing a collective shrug of the shoulders any more when we discover that women and ethnic minorities aren't putting themselves forward for roles at every and any level of the party. I want us to work out why and change ourselves, so they do.

This evening the DEG Target Setting Working Group is having its first meeting. We need to make sure we set targets not just for candidate selections but for MPs, councillors, party chairs, federal committee members, organisers, local party committee members, conference reps and party spokespeople and members. Because we have to start measuring our success by outcomes rather than being hamstrung by a process that we are sure is fair and does not overtly discriminate but does not produce the outcomes we need. Our process may be a work of liberal democratic art but it is not working.

And before you all fall off your chairs, target setting is aspirational, it is not about setting mandatory quotas.

The Speakers Conference that was agreed last Wednesday is going to be very instructive. If you read the debate and look at it's purpose it is clear that the time when we can leave the political parties to sort their own houses out in their own way has gone already. It is being taken out of our hands and parliament itself has decided to do something about it.

Any idea the outcome of the Conference is going to be a commendation of what we are already doing and just a exhortation to try harder would be a naive one.

Nothing is off limits

MPs today have a free on whether to hold a Speakers Conference into whether MPs are a 'narrow, self serving elite'. A whole year to work that out! Surely not? Blimey I could give them something pretty substantial in just 24 hours and my daily fee is far less than a bunch of MPs!! Only just though ;-)

Seriously thought it is good to see that the Speakers Conference I first got wind of in July looks to be coming to something. So much talk on diversity and equalities in parliament (you know that bit with the power) is just hot air.

Of course Harriet Harman is thinking of gender, race, sexuality and disability imbalances but Michael White makes a very interesting comment about the white working class in his article on CiF. But I guess you have to prioritise and my guess is that there are more white working class men in parliament than say, ethnic minorities in total whether from the working or middle or elite and there are definitely more than ethnic minority women - of whom we have to our shame as a democracy only two (Dawn Butler and Diane Abbots) and they sit on the Labour benches. (there's also the thorny issue of whether you class is something branded on you by birth and something you can't change - which I don't agree with).

I do hope that MPs do the right thing today...there are still an awful lot of Tories who think that Parliament being male and white is nothing more than a coincidence (or perahps, just the way it should be).

My eyebrows were raised, however, by the idea that Patrick Wintour suggests that

"The conference could prompt legislation including a requirement for political parties to maintain all-women and all-black shortlists for parliamentary candidates".

I can't see MPs going for that en masse; but remember, our MPs voted for the legislation to allow all women or all ethnic minority shortlists to exist within the context of equal opportunities legislation, to be extended. The average Lib Dem activist may be outraged by them but not all of the parliamentary party is.

But I do thing that Harriet Harman is right when she says:

"It is not just about how can people think we are a fair, open and representative democracy if we just do not look like that, but also the fact that we cannot have sensible debates on policy. We cannot sensibly discuss the veil (in the Commons) when there is no Muslim woman MP; it was impossible to discuss domestic violence when there was 97% men in the Commons.

"So this is about changing the agenda for debate, as well as changing public perception of the Commons."

Certainly this is why I think that diversity is so important - it is not because of the way people look but for the different understanding and priorities that they place on things. It's not just about getting more women in but making sure that those women have between them a broad experience of life in the UK today.

She goes on to say:

"Nothing is off-limits. It is potentially a very radical, historic decision - it moves the issue right up the agenda, and puts something that used to be dismissed as political correctness right to the centre of the political agenda. If the Commons is not representative, it is nothing. This is about parliament saying 'we are not OK to go on as we are'."
Well, I'm not going to disagree with that..I just hope that MPs with their free vote don't disagree with her either and vote for the Speakers Conference. Fingers crossed, eh?

Women Liberal Democrats Reclaim the Night

Hooray! Women Liberal Democrats are going on the Reclaim the Night 2008 march with the Women Liberal Democrats banner!

I went last year with my Mum (yes, that's us in the picture) but there was no organised Lib Dem presence.

This year, inspired by the Finn McKay, from The London Feminist Network, speaking at the WLD fringe on Domestic Violence, they're going. Finn was great at the fringe and spoke with real passion but I did smile as she called out to us as 'comrades'!! Not what you normally hear at a LIBERAL Democrat fringe!

I was absolutely chuffed that I was going to be able march under the Lib Dem banner this year until I realised that I'm actually going to be in Bath for the weekend...something which has been booked up since the dark ages. Hrmph!

But, you can still go if you want to!

It's women only on the march, I'm afraid but guys are allowed at the post-march rally.

If you would like to march (if you're female that is) under the Women Liberal Democrats Banner then meet at the ticket hall of Embankment tube station on Saturday 22nd November 2008 between 6.00pm and 6.15pm. If you want to march incognito then the start of the march is at 6.30pm in Whitehall Place.

The rally (with speakers and stalls) for women, men and children will be at the Friends Meeting House, Main hall, Euston road - you can find out more details at the website here!

Boris deserts East London

And turns his back on environmental forms of transport....

Well, that was inevitable, wasn't it?

Relieved as I am, as a Crystal Palace resident, not to have the East London Line Extension scrapped it seems that Boris have slashed swathes of budget off key transport infrastructure projects including, as listed on the BBC website:

£1.3bn cross-river tram plan which would have connected Peckham to Camden
£500m Thames Gateway Bridge scheme in east London
£750m extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Dagenham Dock in east London
£500m Oxford Street tram scheme
£170m Croydon Tramlink extension
Public space proposals for a number of areas including Parliament Square and the Victoria Embankment
Given that trams are amongst the greenest forms of transport that just shows that when you vote blue you certainly don't get green!!

And what are we getting instead?

Mucking around with bloody routemaster. If there was ever a waste of time and money and a dog whistle to those who think life was always better in the past then I don't know what is. Boris Watch has more on that point here.

I really feel for East London; Barking & Dagenham is in need of so much regeneration but it's just not going to happen without the proper transport infrastructure. And as for the Thames Gateway bridge - do you htink he's have dared to do that in West London?

Dave Hill has more details on the transport for London business plan here.

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