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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Gender balance

I have spent the weekend at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference in Llandrindod Wells where the big issue for the press and the representatives was a debate on introducing positive discrimination into the party so as to get more women elected.

The evidence in front of us indicated that the party is dominated by men at all levels and yet the problem seemed to be not that women were being rejected but that they are failing to put themselves forward for election as candidates or as party officers. I argued therefore that the solution was not the creation of positive discrimination but action to encourage and train more women for these posts and the introduction of adequate support and mentoring mechanisms for all. Fortunately, in a highly charged but first class debate in which the quality of the contributions was outstanding, the Conference agreed with me.

The whole weekend in fact was first rate. There is a buzz about the Welsh Liberal Democrats at the moment. We are attracting a large number of new, mostly younger members, we are still flush from the electoral successes of June 10th and we are very much looking forward to the General Election when it comes. There was a feeling that we are on the up and that was reflected in the speeches and the conversations in the bar afterwards.

So, a party that you admit is male dominated agreed with you, a man, that nothing should be done that really challenges male domination. You must be pleased. Well done.

Another four years in the Assembly beckons and none of the hideous regiment are threatening your salary cheque.
Obviously it irks you very much that not everybody shares your hatred of men.

Actually, my party agreed with me, a man, that some fundamental changes need to be made to attract more women into politics and to assist them in realising their potential both within the party and in elected positions.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Group is exactly 50% men and 50% women, a position achieved without any positive discrimination or tokenism. Our objective is to enable that to continue by supporting, training, mentoring and encouraging women to come forward for election. I have already done that in my region where four of the seven Assembly candidates were women. Three of those are now Councillors and one the leader of a Council.

I do not believe on resting on my laurels and neither do others in my party. Clearly, more needs to be done - in all parties.

As for my salary cheque, as I give large chunks of it to the party, I suspect that they will miss it more. My concern is implementing policy and getting things done.
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Presumably you think Kirsty Williams is also a man hater. Well done again for using MSP arguments that I thought had disappeared in about 1977.

It really is pathetic. is Rhodri Morgan a man hater because of his support for all women shortlists?
From your original comment it is you who seems to have the hang-up with men, not Kirsty Williams or Rhodri Morgan. I am happy to discuss this issue on the merits of the case and I happen to think that all-women shortlists are wrong. That is my view and it has nothing to do with being a man. Many women also hold that view. Your abuse does not constitute an argument.
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