All the latest news for the year end


For immediate release

December 18th 2009

http://www.wpradio interviews of 2009!

Fiona Mactaggart MP – changes the laws on prostitution and wins an Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize


The Ann Treneman Diaries “Annus Horribilis: The Worst Year in British Politics” 2009

Fiona Mactaggart, the Labour MP for Slough, has campaigned and succeeded in changing the laws on prostitution.

It was at 11pm on 3rd November 2009 that Fiona watched the House of Lords pass Clause 14 of the Policing and Crime Bill. It will make it illegal for a person to pay, or attempt to pay, for sex with a woman, or man, who is subject to force, coercion or exploitation.

It begins to put the responsibility for prostitution onto the purchaser, who has a choice, instead of a seller who often does not. It was one of the most significant changes in politics of 2009 and was in danger of being voted down.

Fiona has won a special prize in the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work and  is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade and co-Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Women’s Committee.

Fiona tells how she worked with others in her party, Harriet Harman MP, Jacqui Smith MP, and men too as well as women across party to achieve this change. It was first spoken of by Mary Wollstonecraft in  “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” in 1792.

Fiona told Boni Sones how she “reached for the stars” and succeeded. She says:

  • “I remember telephoning Jacqui Smith MP, the then Homer Secretary, and said I am planning this campaign is it alright with you? She said she was on the beach.  I always imagined she was on an exotic beach, in fact she was in North Wales, and she said “OK go ahead” and that was the trigger for me to get a law similar to the Swedish law passed.”
  • “Finding people to stick up against their party line was important.  For the fist time I met a member of the Conservative Party, a Baroness, who did realise it was an issue of conscience and this Baroness went and told her whips this. This was critical. There just wasn’t enough people to back the LD amendment so it went through.”
  • “At the time I thought this amendment was a step beyond what we could achieve  right now, but you have to reach for the stars because then you get them. Change never happens by accident, change happens when you try to reach for the stars.”

The Ann Treneman Diaries “Annus Horribilis: The Worst Year in British Politics” 2009

Matthew Parris has called it “brilliant” and Women’s Parliamentary Radio wholeheartedly agrees.

Ann Treneman, the sketch writer for the Times, reads from and reviews her new book. Boni Sones, Executive Producer of joins in. The book puts the years most turbulent events in politics into Ann’s very own side-splitting perspective.

Thanks to Ann for allowing us to broadcast these special readings. She tells us:

  • “It was the publisher’s idea. It is actually a portrait of the year. I picked the sketches that told the story of the year, not the ones I liked the most. I picked the ones that I feel created a picture of what it was really like. I think people will want to know how bad it really was!”
  • “Looking back at the sketches I loved it when Gordon thought he was leader of the World, but I remember thinking when Joanna Lumley seemed to be in charge, that the government had lost it. Then there was the stuff about MPs expenses, it was all too good to be true; I felt so lucky it was true!”
  • “There is such an organisation as the “Volupts”. It’s a real group of Labour woman, part of the sisterhood in the Commons led by Harriet. I don’t know what they do, probably they have shadowy meetings and cups of tea at which they plot sometimes.”
  • “I think woman are not ridiculed more than men but they may be ridiculed differently. Often women’s voices are screechy and not quite on the right register and they do sometimes sound like fishwives, that is a fact.”
  • “When you write a sketch watching body language is important. If you look at Gordon on YouTube and his expenses announcement video, the way he looks is bonkers, it tells a lot about someone.”

For immediate release

December 1st 2009 talks to Chloe Smith the  MP for Norwich North

Chloe Smith, the new MP for Norwich North is now the youngest MP in Parliament after being elected in a by-election in July this year. At 27 she is two years younger than the previous “baby of the House”, Lib Dem Jo Swinson, but Chloe insists: “If you are good enough you’re old enough the age isn’t the thing!”

Chloe describes herself as a Norfolk girl “through and through” and whilst a candidate for 18 months she was an energetic local campaigner. Her mentor was Baroness Gillian Shephard of Northwold, a former Norfolk MP and minister, and Chloe says she herself has mentored other potential candidates through the Conservative’s Women2Win Campaign jointly led by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

She’s already given her Maiden Speech, on further education in her constituency and although she says she isn’t a fan of positive discrimination she does want to see women supported in their attempts to gain seats.

Our reporter Linda Fairbrother secured a special interview with Chloe, but first she visited Cliveden House now in Berkshire the former home of the first women MP to take up her seat in Westminster the Conservative Lady Nancy Astor where she spoke to Annette Scudamore a National Trust guide.

Chloe tells Linda:

  • Asked about the difficulties of getting selected as a candidate Chloe said: “I had a standard election procedure and I get embarrassed when the selection procedure becomes the news items…I enjoyed the whole procedure and got on well with the people, you have to find a candidate who fits the seat; we all work together and you can’t shoe-horn that relationship if it works it works and in some cases you have to accept if it doesn’t it doesn’t. My experiences were positive on the whole and I enjoyed the whole procedure and got on well.”
  • Asked about who helped her most Chloe said: “Gillian Shephard has been a role model for me, she was formerly my MP and she is very supportive of people trying to get into politics as a former MP and minister herself. It’s incredibly important to have role models.“
  • Asked about the Women2Win campaign Chloe said: “The Women2Win campaign is a very, very good idea, I’ve been part of that training and mentoring and helping other people.”
  • Asked about her age Chloe said: “My ambition is to be a very good MP, I’ve achieved this great honour at a very young age, I’m getting on with it, it’s a challenging job, if you are good enough you are old enough.”
  • Asked about David Cameron’s plans to parachute more women into Parliament Chloe said: “I’m not a fan of short-lists and quotas personally. I very much respect David Cameron looking at that as a tool, but I would much rather that we continue to use the tools of helping women to improve, after all as a Conservative I am a meritocrat and that is what I think we should be looking to do in our own party procedures.”
  • Asked about the controversy over the selection of Liz Truss Chloe said: “I grew up in the SW Norfolk Seat so it’s quite close to home ..and all’s well that ended well …they have reaffirmed their choice in Liz Truss  and I have every confidence that she will go on to be a fine candidate and I hope a fine MP.”
  • Asked if she now felt part of the sisterhood in Westminster Chloe said: “I do prefer to get on with the job. …As an MP I represent 70,000 people and I get on with doing it, …the world has a wonderful range of people in it and it is our job as an MP to represent all of them.”

Chloe ended the interview by telling Linda of how she had left some papers in the ladies loo in Westminster and when rushing back to retrieve them the thought struck her that she needn’t worry because “there are so few women in Parliament that the statistical chance of someone picking them up was quite low.”