www.wpradio.co.uk asks “What are they banging on about”: We talk to “Ed”!

Women’s Parliamentary Radio
May 26th 2011

http://www.wpradio.co.uk asks three women MPs and the Labour Leader Ed Miliband: “What are you banging on about and why?”

Wilberforce abolished slavery by “banging on” about it over many years. A year into a new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government and Parliament three women MPs and the Labour leader Ed Miliband talk of the issues of concern to them.

Seema Malhotra Director of the Fabian Women’s Network launches a campaign: “Women changing politics” to assist more Labour women to become MPs at the next General Election. 22 women have been selected to be that “crack in the glass ceiling” – we hear from two of them Chloe and Suzy. Thanks to Seema we hear from the Labour Leader Ed Miliband too.

Nadine Dorries Conservative MP for Mid Beds on her “Sex Education” Ten Minute Rule Bill to encourage abstinence in sex through incorporating it into sex education in schools.

Rachel Reeves Labour MP for Leeds West tells us about the “Hands off our pensions” campaign for women who are unjustly being affected by public sector cut-backs, particularly some 57-year-old women.

Baroness Sal Brinton, a Liberal Democrat Peer, is going to ensure her Party gets more women into Parliament at the next General Election. There are suggestions that the existing seven Liberal Democrat women MPs will all lose their seats.
Banging on they most certainly are and that’s what brings success ultimately.

Thanks Ed for the sound bite! Reports by our Executive Producer Boni Sones OBE.

Ed Miliband and Seema Malhotra

• Ed Miliband Labour Leader told us: “I would like to see as many women MPs as possible in Parliament at the next General Election. What I want to get to eventually is half of our MPs to be women, it’s obviously going to take time to get there.”
• Seema Malhotra, Director of the Fabian Women’s Network said: “We are launching a political education scheme. We think what holds women back in politics is a lack of understanding of how politics works. It is about networks, abut having confidence through knowledge and about women having aspirations about themselves.
• “This political education programme is going to make a big difference about the talent coming through in our public life. Ed called the 22 women on the programme this year, as “22 cracks in the glass ceiling” which was a brilliant way to describe it. The fact we have launched the campaign in the Shadow Cabinet Room shows where the political activity is taking place. These women already have the confidence to be leaders in their own communities as well as having aspirations for themselves and others. In terms of the Labour party, further reform is only going to happen when people bring forward their own experiences and say what needs to change.”

Nadine Dorries MP

• Nadine Dorries MP said: “Given the over-sexualisation of our culture with young girls and boys bombarded by images of sex from a very early age, from TV images, to sound bites on radio to teenage magazine discussing “the position of the week”, to Prime Time TV, I felt in an over-sexualised culture with the pressure on girls to say “yes”, we needed to introduced a Bill on “Sex Education” that gave teenagers an option other than to say “yes”. There should be a rhetoric which is acceptable which is about they could say “no”.”
• “One of the reasons I brought forward this Bill was that a 14 year old girl said to me, could she still be a virgin at 18? The expectation is imposed on girls by boys that they should say “yes”, and that sex education does not disabuse them of this. Seven year olds are being taught how to apply a condom to a banana. We want them to know sex is illegal under the age of 16, and that they can wait until they are in love or in a relationship. “
• “I don’t call it social progress when teenage children have dropped onto their mobile phones explicit images, technology has tipped the balance. There is no comparison to the 70s, we live in a different world and it is a dangerous one for young women. Now teenage pregnancy and abortion are at their highest rates ever, women deserve better than this. When many women spend their old age in poverty having achieved nothing in their lives, then I think feminism was not a good thing.”
• “I was very disappointed in Ken’s comment, this notion that varying degrees of rape are codified in law is right, but it is just wrong, it is totally wrong. He was wrong in what he said, and wrong that he smiled when he said it, and wrong in the lack of understanding that he had at the trauma a woman goes through in rape. It was cringe worthy! I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. Why a man would be making such comments I have no idea. Rape is a problem in society the perception that men believe that women should have sex is a result of an over-sexualised culture. I want to bring some sense of reason into the way we live now to protect young girls.”
• “Mary Whitehouse, was a well known television campaigner, Joan Bakewell now says she was right, we are saying there has to be something to push the agenda back. I am not going to stop I am going to keep banging on about this.”

Rachel Reeves MP

• Rachel Reeves MP said: “There are 57 year old women, many of them already working part time to care for elderly parents or young grandchildren, they have taken time out to look after their children and they were not allowed to contribute into an occupational pension scheme, as they were working part time, but they are being penalised again. These changes will cost them up to £15,000. “
• “The Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, said they could claim state benefits but they don’t want a hand out they want the pension they have contributed to and fairness and justice. The jobseeker’s allowance is worth just half of what the pension is so it is a very poor substitute! These women are the Big Society in action, they are not in a position to increase their working hours, they are really worrying.”

Baroness Sal Brinton

• Baroness Sal Brinton said: ”The really good news is that we are already oversubscribed on on “Inspiration weekends”. I am encouraged that we have lots of strong women out there wanting to be an MP. We are also speaking to our local parties and regional organisations and the message from them is that they are ready too.
• “We have agreed to do some form of twinning, not our target seats, we are much smaller than the other parties so that would be a problem. We are not calling it twinning but “groupings” to ensure we get men and women and ethnic minority candidates into seats.
• “ I would be astonished if what the Fabian’s are saying is true, our women MPs are not going to be wiped out, we do not have uniform swings. It has never been the case in the past it will not be the case now their report was an election gimmick.”
• “In the Lords I will be banging on about education and making sure we improve standards and our children get the education they deserve and about International Development too.”
• On the proposal from Baroness Worthington a Labour MP to breastfeed in the Lords Baroness Brinton said: “Women have certain roles when they have to have their children around them, and it might be nice for Lords Reform to tackle this serious inequality in the future. I am now disabled and I have found the Lords very welcoming and very helpful but I think on some of the women’s issues, particularly breast feeding we do need to come into the 21st Century.”

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4. The top four downloads show our cross-party appeal to our listeners: 1. Hazel Blears Interview 203 2. Sally Keeble How the budget is helping grandparents 171 3. Theresa May Interview 159 4. Anne Begg Parliamentary Education Service Question Time 123. 5 Anne Begg – Parliamentary reform and MPs expenses. The ERS documentary on women MPs had 99 downloads.

5. wpradio also carries international content and has interviews with women MEPs in Europe, and women politicians in Africa and the Middle East.

6. Our supporters include Theresa May MP, Jo Swinson MP, Harriet Harman MP,and many other female politicians listed on our site. Jackie Ashley, of the Guardian, is our Chair.

7. The British Library archives all the interviews on wpradio.co.uk in its new web collection.

8. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.


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