Women’s Parliamentary Radio goes to the Tricycle for “Women Power and Politics”.



Women’s Parliamentary Radio

For immediate release

June 11th 2010


Women’s Parliamentary Radio interviews are on display and can be heard in a new exhibition at the Tricycle Theatre in London at the “Women Power and Politics” programme of events.

Ten interviews by Linda Fairbrother, Anne Garvey, and Boni Sones OBE, can be heard through headphones along one wall of the exhibition.

Wpradio.co.uk has also just interviewed the Assistant Director, Amy Hodge and the Director Indhu Rubasingham, about the nine plays that are being performed in two parts.

Indhu Rubashingham, whose family are Tamils from Sri Lanka, which has a strong tradition of women in politics, having elected the first female Prime Minister in the world in 1960, laughed when asked if she was a “feminist”.  She replied: “I personally haven’t got an agenda, I am not a politician and I am not a policy maker. I wanted to ask “do we need more women to represent women or do we not?”, and to get people to think about it.

“The reason I am hesitating (on saying I am a feminist) is not whether I am a feminist or not, I don’t think that it’s important for the project…. I’m interested in the unheard voice and that may or may not be women.”

Amy Hodge thought differently, she said: “I am a feminist. The purpose of the project is to get people thinking and engaging in the debate and the plays.”

Boni Sones OBE said: “It was lovely to be able to work collaboratively with the organisers of the “Women Power and Politics” plays at the Tricycle and after seeing the plays I am hugely impressed with the intelligence, perception and wit of the playwrights and the quality of the acting, performances and the directing.

“As a team of journalists at www.wpradio.co.uk we have spent six years conducting interviews with women MPs across party in Britain and in Europe and Africa, and I didn’t think there was much more to learn, but there was! I found real insight into the political establishment that we are all part of both men and women. The plays are great and hopefully they will get the message out that there are still not enough women in Parliament or the Cabinet!

“Thanks to norn and their two London-based curators Ali MacGilp and Cassandra Needham for finding us on the web and tuning in. It shows the power of social media today, that we didn’t go to them they found http://www.wpradio.co.uk.”

The exhibition is a celebration of women who have made a positive political impact in the UK over the last century, whether within or outside governmental frameworks.

Incorporating rarely-seen archival material of the women’s suffrage movement; political activist Olive Morris’s campaigns for the rights of the black community; and the long battle of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp against nuclear proliferation.

The exhibition also features a little-known 1974 film by the London Women’s Film Group which examines the status of women’s labour under capitalism.
The ten www.wpradio.co.uk interviews that can be heard at the Tricycle exhibition room are:

  1. Caroline Lucas

In this two part interview, wpradio journalist Anne Garvey asked Caroline Lucas of the Green Party to spell out her hopes for a new global green agenda and women following Barack Obama’s success as President Elect in the USA, and Executive Producer of wpradio Boni Sones, talked to Caroline about the specific policies of the Green Party.

10 minutes 33

  1. Baroness Shirley Williams

The Liberal Democrat Peer, Shirley Williams, has had a distinguished career in British politics. She was a member of the Wilson and Callaghan Governments in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981 she co-founded the Social Democratic Party, becoming the first MP elected for the SDP in 1981. She is now writing her autobiography to be published next year. As the daughter of the renowned feminist Vera Brittan, it will no doubt contain many gems on British political history. Shirley has just delivered the annual Women’s Library speech celebrating 90 years since women got the vote. Here she tells Boni Sones, what she thinks of women’s political progress throughout the World.

16 minutes

  1. A New Year wish for “Disarmament and Globalisation” from Baroness Williams
    of Crosby

Shirley Williams is an unofficial advisor to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, on Nuclear Proliferation and Safety. She was a member of the Wilson and Callaghan Governments in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981 she co-founded the Social Democratic Party, becoming the first MP elected for the SDP in 1981. Here she tells Boni Sones, why disarmament is the most pressing problem the World now needs to address.

7 minutes 30

  1. 4. Emily Wilding Davison

It is 90 years since women over 30 were first given the right to vote. In 2008, Women’s Parliamentary Radio is campaigning to get a plaque to the miltant suffragette Emily Wilding Davison at St George’s Church in Bloomsbury where her funeral procession started and a statue of her in Westminster. Writer and Producer Barbara Gorna has the sash Emily was trying to pin to the King’s horse when she was killed and she told Boni Sones why she wants it to be known Emily’s death was a tragic accident not suicide.

  1. Fiona Mactaggart MP

Fiona Mactaggart the Labour MP for Slough, and former Home Office Minister, is an advocate for the reform of the Prostitution laws in this Country. She would like to see Britain adopt a model based on Sweden, where all paid prostitution is outlawed. In countries such as New Zealand, they have actually legalised prostitution, but Fiona says that won’t work here. She believes we need a total ban on buying sex to protect women and to stop the trade in prostitution and trafficking. In this extended interview, Boni Sones asked her why?

20 minutes

  1. Maggie! Maggie! Maggie!

Is Margaret Thatcher the “Mother of the Nation” or the “Monster from the Blue Lagoon”?

That’s the question The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury, London, is asking from 6th May to 26th July with an exhibition of satirical cartoons of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister 30 years since her election. It features work by Steve Bell, Gerald Scarfe, Trog and many others for newspapers and magazines across the political spectrum. The cartoons reflecting her 11 years in power, were chosen by Steve Bell of the Guardian and one of her former trusted ministers, Lord Baker of Dorking. Clearly they find it hard to agree about her legacy but the exhibition brought out the humour in both of them. Boni Sones began by speaking to Lord Baker and then Steve Bell.

  1. Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North

December 1, is the 90th anniversary of Nancy Astor taking her seat in Parliament

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!”

Here our reporter Linda Fairbrother secured a special interview with Chloe, but first she visited Cliveden House 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 Scudamor, a National Trust guide.

  1. Ann Cryer MP

Ann Cryer MP for Keighley, who is stepping down from Westminster aged 70, has gained a reputation for plain speaking and doggedness. Her husband, Bob, was an MP and when he died she decided to stand too, she was then followed into Westminster by her son John, becoming the first mother and son MP team in Westminster.

Here Ann tells Executive Producer Boni Sones about her suffragette grandmother, the roots of her political passions, and her much acclaimed work on Forced Marriages and now first cousin marriages.

  1. Dr Evan Harris MP – women  and their right to the throne

The Liberal Democrat Equality Campaigner, Dr Evan Harris MP, attempted to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to modernise our monarchy by allowing a woman to be first in succession to the throne rather than being superseded by a younger male sibling, the so called rule of “primogeniture”. Dr Harris’s “Royal Marriage and Succession to the Crown Bill”  also wanted to allow those in the line of succession to the throne to marry a Catholic.  Boni Sones, asked Dr Harris, why his Bill was needed now?

10.  Dawn Butler MP

Dawn Butler, the MP for Brent has just been given a new job by the Prime Minster Gordon Brown as one of six Vice-Chairs of the Labour Party. She will work directly to Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman on youth issues and be involved with the new ministerial team at the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Dawn’s enthusiasm for campaigning is infectious. Boni Sones talked to her about her new role and her parliamentary career


  1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. It has over 200 interviews with women and male politicians of all parties which can be listened to online or downloaded as podcasts.
  1. In March 2010 monthly visits jumped to 3,847 visitors, and 73,796 hits. That’s over double the same period last year. Page views have increased by a corresponding amount. And February 2010 had the highest ever bandwidth usage with 120 Gigabytes downloaded.
  1. Our web stats show that our visitors are loyal, they return, tune in for some time and to more than one item. We have doubled our audience in a year.
  1. wpradio also carries international content and has interviews with women MEPs in Europe, and women politicians in Africa and the Middle East.
  1. Our supporters include Harriet Harman MP, Theresa May MP and Jo Swinson MP and many other female politicians listed on our site.
  1. The British Library archives all the interviews on wpradio.co.uk in its new web collection.
  1. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.