Jo’s marathon for leukaemia research

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
April 11th 2011

Jo’s marathon for leukaemia research
Target: £2,620.00
Raised so far: £2,770.40

If you would like to sponsor Jo go to: http://www.justgiving.com/jo-swinson.

Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, a PPS to Vince Cable, and co-founder of the Campaign For Body Confidence is about to compete in the Virgin London Marathon 2011 on April 17th.

Jo is only the second women MP ever to run the London Marathon following in the footsteps of her colleague Patsy Calton, a former LD MP for Cheadle, who ran it four times, but subsequently died of cancer in 2005.

At her height Jo has trained for between 35 to 40 miles a week, and fitted in five work outs during the week. She eats plenty of complex “carbs” but also confides that while she is running long distances she snacks on sports drinks and jelly babies too.

Jo who completed the Loch Ness Marathon in 2007, says running is a good way to “respect” your body and give you confidence. Our Executive Producer Boni Sones OBE caught up with Jo as she was climbing the stairs to her third floor office in Westminster:

Jo told Boni: “There will be tens of thousands of runners at the London Marathon who are not professional runners who don’t do this for a living but who will be determined to do this and train, and put their body through a test in a positive and healthy way rather than this continual obsession our culture often has with how bodies look.”

Jo has managed to stick to her training schedule despite working long hours in Westminster and doing constituency surgeries and fitting in events after undertaking long training sessions:

“Well I suppose I have run 8 or 9 hours a week at most at the height of my training, and that is difficult. When you are in Parliament from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, fitting in an hour at the gym is not that unreasonable and it normally leaves me feeling energised. The long runs are a pain to fit in, you need to have a good breakfast beforehand, and you don’t feel that active afterwards, but I have run for 20 miles and done a constituency surgery and a couple of events in the afternoon and evening, now that can be quite exhausting!”

Jo said planning those long training schedules around a busy work and home life is essential but that one London Marathon is enough for her for the time being:

“I certainly don’t think running marathons is something that you can do continually, it does take over your life, and I have had to plan the long runs months in advance. I will continue running even though I won’t be marathon training after this, it is quite fun to have something to aim at. I first got into this by doing the Race for Life in 2006 which is 5k and you can run or walk it for women of any age and background – it is an amazing day, and I realised I quite enjoyed it.”

Jo confides that she snacks on Jelly Babies and that she hopes to cross the finishing line in under four hours depending on the weather:

“I will get round even if I have to walk and if I cross the finishing line in under 4 hours I will be over the moon. It depends on the weather given I am from Scotland I am not used to running in the sunshine and the heat – I am crossing my fingers for a slightly chilly damp day.”

She paid tribute to the memory of her fellow MP London marathon runner Patsy Calton:

“I feel very proud to be following in Patsy’s footsteps, and we overlapped as MPs in Westminster for a few weeks. When I was elected in 2005 Patsy was very ill, and she ran the London marathon twice for cancer charities, after beating cancer once and then it came back unfortunately.

“I am a big believer in exercise for lifting the spirits generally and getting you back in touch with the fact your body is this amazing machine. I really think we should give ourselves a break on the body image front and enjoy our bodies and have confidence in them.”

Jo said she had already met her fund raising target for Leukaemia research but that donations were still needed:

“I am raising money for Leukaemia research. There’s somebody close to me suffering from that and that gave me the motivation to raise money for this research. A few decades ago there were very high mortality rates with childhood Leukaemia and now there are high success rates. Thanks for everybody who sponsored me and anybody who would like to sponsor me just go to http://www.justgiving.com/jo-swinson.”

Ann McKechin MP for Glasgow North and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Ann McKechin has been an MP since June 2001 and the MP for the newly configured constituency of Glasgow North since 2005. She was Scottish Office Minister in the last Labour government and is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Ann previously served on the Scottish Affairs Committee and then as a member of the International Development Committee and was Chair of the All Party Group on Debt, Aid and Trade and Chair of the backbench group of Scottish Labour MPs.

Our intrepid http://www.wpradio.co.uk reporter Linda Fairbrother spoke to her about how she managed to work as a Westminster MP, with the Holyrood MP, the Regional representatives and the Euro MP. How does “devolved” government work for the people who vote for her?
Ann told Linda:

• ”I believe Whitehall is very weak on Scotland at the moment. I am shocked by how little understanding there is about the impact of policies on Scotland. Ministers say we can rely on funds in Local government that don’t apply in Scotland. The influence of the Scottish office is considerably weaker since the Election and also in No10 the appreciation of the impact on devolved areas be it Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is much, much weaker and it does have an effect. Scotland’s voice within the current government is much weaker since before the Election.”

• “Devolution has been with us for 12 years, and the civil servants do work together. The civil service is aware it has to understand how policy works in Scotland, and I think the working is not controversial but is very strong.”

• “It is important we preserve the things that make the Union good. The fiscal crisis showed us the strengths of being part of the UK and how it protects us against risks and volatility in the Global environment, such as the problems in the Middle East at the moment. We want to preserve the best things in the UK but devolving power on what works best.”

• “My colleagues at Holyrood will tell you they don’t work office hours, we as Westminster MPs may have to travel up and down but their diaries are full too. I love my job as a Westminster MP it is the best job I could have, and my colleagues at Holyrood are equally dedicated and if you compared our working hours you would find they are just about even.”

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show in March 2011 for the previous 6 months we are consistently getting over 2500 visits per month. Downloads have ranged between 25GB and 36GB per month.
2. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content. We have over 500,000 hits in a year.
3. Our web stats show that our visitors are loyal, they return, tune in for some time and to more than one item and they enjoy our documentary making too. In March 2011 there were 1,250 downloads of individual podcasts, with our top ten downloads published on our site.
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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A Message to Emily? International Women’s Day 2011!

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio

For immediate release: March 25th 2011

A Message to Emily? And what a “swell” party it was – Speaker’s House and International Women’s Day 2011!

In a special http://www.wpradio.co.uk “A message to Emily” three part radio documentary journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones OBE criss-cross the State Rooms of Speaker’s House to record interviews with women parliamentarians across party and their guests while they celebrated together 100 years of International Women’s Day.

On 2nd April 1911 a lone suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison hid herself in the broom cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, in the crypt of St Stephen’s Hall, Westminster, on the night of the census so that she could give her address as the House of Commons.

100 years later there was no need to hide. The Speaker John Bercow opened the doors of his State Rooms to the women MPs from all parties with their friends and special guests from campaigning organisations to mark the Centenary of International Women’s Day.

Emily who died after pinning a sash to the King’s horse at the Epsom races would have been wide-eyed at being allowed into the State Rooms, Speaker’s House, House of Commons. The 16th March party was organised by three women MPs Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP and Jo Swinson MP from Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

If walls could have ears? No need – Women’s Parliamentary Radio journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones captured this sound portrait in this special three part documentary “A Message to Emily?

The Home Secretary and Minister for Women, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP told http://www.wpradio.co.uk:

• “Lynne Featherstone MP has taken on the responsibility as International Champion on violence against women, we have worked hard on violence against women and girls. I chair an inter-ministerial group on Violence Against Women and Girls, it brings all departments together, DFID and others, and we will be able to champion the need to deal with violence against women internationally which blights the lives of many.”

• “To those who say we haven’t done enough I would point to the work we have done. We have published a strategy against violence against women and girls, we have found a permanent solution to women fleeing domestic violence, we have been able to find extra money for rape crisis centres and produce sustainable funding for them the next three years. “

• “In the Home Office despite all the budget cuts we have been able to protect £28 million of expenditure over the next four years for dealing with violence against women and girls, I think we have made some very important steps. We are great supporters of the new UN Agency for Women, and we are looking for that agency to be able to promote the needs of women across the World.”

• “My message to Emily would be we are not complacent and we are still fighting.”

Yvette Cooper MP, the Labour Shadow Home Secretary said:

• “Domestically the issue is making sure we don’t turn the clock back on progress and that you don’t narrow women’s opportunities instead of expanding them. Internationally there are still huge issues in terms of violence against women, and their participation in the political process and debates about women’s lives as well”.

• “It is always right to have international debate and international solidarity about opportunities for women in every country in the World and we have to make sure that is part of British foreign policy it is not just something that is dismissed or ignored. It is also about listening to women’s experiences in other countries and hearing what they themselves are saying.”

Jo Swinson MP, the Liberal Democrat PPS to Vince Cable said:

• “On women’s representation we have moved this issue forward we have got more women elected. There are still barriers we need to address in terms of the way Parliament works and issues of how you juggle the demands of being an MP with family life, and the wider social issue about how men and women split caring responsibilities and the pay gap, standing for Parliament is not cost neutral.”

• “There are a lot of talented women out there who look at Parliament and say “why would I want to be part of that?” We have a job to do in selling the job. Women MPs love the job they do and they can make a difference in their communities and this is the bit that gets lost we need to say “this is why this is a great job to do!”

Speaker Bercow said:

• “International Women’s Day reminds us that we have a duty in whatever our capacity to do something to make a difference for women internationally. These rooms are State Rooms and what better use than to use them to fight the cause for women and equality. We congratulate the trail blazers but there is still a great deal to do and we must get on to do it!”

• “We’re celebrating women in Parliament, but crucially for me is the fact that however many battles we think we have to fight here in the UK, there are women in the World with far more serious circumstances to deal with and we must never forget that.”

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of http://www.wpradio.co.uk said: “www.wpradio.co.uk would like to thank all those who gave interviews to us to celebrate and record for the social history books our “Message to Emily? three part radio documentary to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. Special thanks to the Speaker John Bercow, for allowing us into the State Rooms, and to the organisers Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP, Jo Swinson MP. It was as ever, great fun, to be with so many committed and passionate women in one room and hear their special messages to the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. Women’s Political representation was an issue many told us needed to be put to the fore in our Parliament.”

In Part One Boni spoke to:

Caroline Adams from the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party and organiser, Barbara Gorna and Joan Lane film producer. Vicky Booth, Diversity Officer for the Liberal Democrats, Fiona Mactaggart MP and Lydia Simmons. Barbara Keeley MP, Fawcett acting CEO Anna Bird, Sharon Hodgson MP, Sue Tibballs of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Joan Ruddock MP and Councillor Joan Millbank. Maria Eagle MP and Yvette Cooper MP.

In Part Two Boni spoke to:

Baroness Elspeth Howe, Baroness Hussein-Ece. Cherie Blair and Sarina Russo. Lorley Burt MP and Helen Berresford, Kealey Hastick from Platform 51. Helen Grant MP and Martha Kearney BBC journalist. Harriet Harman MP, The speaker John Bercow MP and last but not least the most senior woman in the Cabinet, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women Theresa May MP.

In Part Three Linda spoke to:

Nan Sloane from the Centre for Women and Democracy, Margaret Beckett MP, Baroness Ramsay, Kate Green MP, Lesley Abdela from Shevolution, John Bercow MP, Caroline Spelman MP, and Lee Chalmers of the Downing Street Project, Liberal Democrat supporter Dinti Batstone, Jo Swinson MP.

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.

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“One tough woman” Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone MP

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
March 21st 2011

Www.wpradio talks to “One tough woman” Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone MP and a “new face” Luciana Berger MP

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone MP – “One tough woman”!

The Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green is a formidable campaigner with a reputation for being “One tough woman”! So far she’s managed to get to the top of those red boxes initiatives to stop homophobic bullying in sport, to regulate without legislation “air brushed images” of women in the media and she’s progressed gay marriage rights. On the controversial issues such as “trafficking of women” she tells her critics “look at what we are doing don’t just chant “are you in or are you out”!

Lynne says the Government will not back track on funding the new Agency for UN Women, it has, she says “100 per cent commitment” from her Government. She has had no sleepless nights even on issues such as voting for the tuition fees increase. “If you don’t ask you don’t get”, she says. Lynne has received “nothing but backing” from both Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary and Women’s Minister and the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Theresa and Lynne may look like “the odd couple”, but they do “sit down and talk out”, their differences! “We just find a way through,” she says. In this special interview Our Executive Producer, Boni Sones OBE, spoke to Lynne.

Lynne told Boni:

• “Homophobic bullying is a huge issue. 93 per cent of fans think there should be no homophobia or transphobia in sport but 78 per cent of fans say you will hear anti-gay language on the terraces. The sports field of this country is one of the last places you hear vicious homophobia and you have to tear those barriers down.”
• “Equalities is about social mobility and tackling child poverty and I would say this Government, and I lay claim to all of what this government is doing, is about changing this Country. There is some really tough stuff in it but at the end we will have a fairer and more equal country.”
• “The singular image that is rammed down young girls and boys throats is that you have to be impossibly thin and impossibly beautiful and it is clearly doing damage to young people. I have met with the advertising associations and Media Smart, but we have never considered banning images we have considered labelling. Media Smart has agreed to develop a tool kit to be offered to all schools, which will actually teach children how to view things so they have a realistic and informed approach to what they see. It is just one part of it, and I am really excited about it and my colleague Jo Swinson MP is starting an All Party Parliamentary group on it too.”
• “Yes I have always been out there on these issues such as gay marriages but the victory will be when we have equal marriage and equal partnerships and civil partners being able to register in religious premises. Freedom for LGP people and freedom for those who wish to be religious. It is very nice to have something I campaigned on so forcefully come through in Government in its early stages.”
• “On the European Directive on Trafficking, we haven’t made a final decision on whether to opt in. It doesn’t worry me, I get asked it by Labour every time I go to oral questions, but we are developing an anti-trafficking policy that will go further and faster than anything else.”
• “On the new UN Agency for women, Andrew Mitchell has probably done more for women internationally than those before him. He has placed women full square in the centre of most of the work DFID is doing and put all his budgets behind that as well. We have 100 per cent commitment to UN women, we have committed 1 million for the transition period and in May or June we will announce how much we will put into the main fund but we have to see the strategy first. But we do have 100 per cent commitment we will be funding it. Andrew wants to see what we are doing first.”
• “On gender auditing of the Budget, my understanding is the Treasury has done more than any Treasury in history on this issue. In terms of impact I have never seen so much work going on, and the Government has made strenuous efforts to mitigate the impact on women. We are linking earnings back to pensions, that is something we have been calling for for some time. We have put money into child tax credits, and social care and ring-fencing the health service. We’re fighting on equal pay, we are fighting for flexible working and shared parental leave and women on boards. We are pushing further and faster than anyone in this economic climate.”
• “Tuition fees was probably the hardest decision. Liberal Democrats always believed in abolishing tuition fees. We’ve reached a jolly good compromise what is being delivered is a better system than what was delivered before.”
• “On the HNS everybody is very anxious, you saw the Lib Dem conference, and we heard from Shirley Williams that there are clearly deep concerns but the Prime Minister has made it clear the Government is moving on these. What I am looking for is to see where this Bill ends up and to make sure we don’t have cherry picking, and privatisation by the back door with no accountability.”
• “If you don’t ask you don’t get. I have been very clear about moving certain things up the agenda that are within my portfolio. In terms of my coalition partners I have had nothing but backing from Theresa May and the Prime Minister. There were no problems on equal marriages, there was a desire to move forward to look at equal marriage and equal partnership, it has been a wonderful portfolio to have.”
• “You go fight your corner in Government. Theresa and myself probably look like the odd couple, but coalition is about sitting down and talking it out. We both have to move from our positions and where we get to is probably better than were we would get to on our own. We just find a way through these issues, it is grown up government.”
• “I am not at all worried about my seat of Hornsey and Wood Green, whether we win or lose that isn’t the point. The chance of delivering policies which you think are going to change the world for the better is what it is about and if I lost my seat because of it, so what!”
• “I haven’t changed one iota! I have done what I believed in and was passionate about it. You don’t get all of what you want in life but getting some of what you want is really a big prize.”

Luciana Berger MP meets wpradio.co.uk reporter Linda Fairbrother in our “New Faces” series

Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, is the Shadow Minister for Climate Change. As a “new face” in Westminster she has achieved a fast rise to the higher echelons of party politics, being the youngest member of Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet and she has already asked three questions at Prime Minister’s Question Time. She attributes her success to “luck” and says being “in the Chamber” is very different from how it looks and sounds on TV.

The challenge with PMQs, she says, is that everybody is in the Chamber! You need to take a pause before you start, it’s a fast pace, you need to speak loudly and quickly to be heard, your question needs to be “pithy” too. Luciana says it’s “a fine art”! She likes the “traditions” of Parliament and the pomp and ceremony of the Speaker’s entry into the Chamber, so parliamentary reform is not top of her agenda, but like others she does want to change the hours on a Tuesday so sittings start and finish earlier. Linda Fairbrother spoke to her.

• “I am trying very hard to do lots of things and take part in all of Parliament and I am making it a priority to spend time in the Chamber, it’s not easy and it is only by practice I know I am going to get better, so I am throwing myself into it.”
• “I was surprised about being given the opportunity to serve on the Front Bench, I am the youngest. I think it is fair to say I had just settled into the role of being an MP, but challenging the Government consistently on an issue is a great way of focusing your activities here in Parliament.”
• “My priority is to be the best constituency MP I can, they are the people that put me here and my number one responsibility is to serve them to the best of my ability. I am loving the role I am doing as Shadow Energy and Climate Change.”

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.

Times sketch writer Ann Treneman talks to Natascha Engel MP

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
March 8th 2011

“Face to Face Encounters”: Times sketch writer Ann Treneman talks to Natascha Engel MP who is Chair of the new Backbench Business Committee

So what are those “usual channels” that govern the House of Commons? Ann Treneman, sketch writer of the Times, talks to Natascha Engel MP who chairs the new Backbench Business Committee which was set up on the 15th June 2010.

This is the first Business Committee of any kind to be established by the House and Ann Treneman, who watches and reports on the debates in the Chamber from the lofty heights of the “Lobby” is more qualified than most to comment on whether or not it is helping to modernise the Commons and transfer power to the ordinary backbench MPs.

Ann told Natascha: “The tone of the debates are slightly different, they are less “yarboo and me you” they are much more thoughtful and you feel that people are heading towards the same goals, which is amazing in Parliament really!”

In this special interview, a series Ann is conducting on Reform of the Commons in her “Face to Face Encounters” series for http://www.wpradio.co.uk, Natscha told Ann as they sat in the lower library of the Press Gallery in the Commons:

• “People used to talk about the dark forces of the whips offices, and that really has changed. The Backbench Business Committee has made a massive difference to how we work in Parliament. People have to take responsibility for what is being debated and there are no whips to ask anymore and that really has made a big difference.”

• “People refer to the “usual channels “ in hushed tones that really is the whips offices and all the civil servants who work around that. It’s not as murky and dark as I thought it was, it is all about timetabling like at school and it is nothing more complicated than that!”

• “It is really very, very, different, the person who controls the time usually controls the agenda. It is an enormously powerful tool. There was civil war happening out in the streets during the Miners Strike, but it was never debated on the floor of the House, because it was in the interests of both sides not to have it happen. We have scheduled debates on the Big Society, on the Middle East and North Africa, and after we have scheduled it the Government has scheduled the same debate as it is more appropriate to be in Government time. We can really raise the profile of something and embarrass the Government into doing things.”

• “We are given 35 days a year, that is about one day a week, but it is down to Government to decide when that day happens, so the next debate we have is 10th March. We wanted to give backbenchers ownership over their own time so we meet in public and that is really, really important. It is not just eight of us sitting in a room together.”

• “It is all drop in and Ad Hoc and it is televised – so far nothing terrible has happened but I think it is really important that we meet in public. We go into private session afterwards and then say which debate has the greatest merit. We could be more open in saying why we have chosen one debate over another. “

• “Geoffrey Robinson MP scheduled one of the first debates on “Contaminated Blood” about the 1970s scandal, and the compensation package. He had to write the motion, put it down on the order paper, and find Tellers for the debate. He had to get organised and he said how uplifting that was and he had been the Paymaster General, a very serious minister. “

• “It is actually the longer serving members who are finding the way that the Backbench Business Committee works is really making a difference to the life of Parliament, while the new ones are using it as part of their campaigns. There is an interesting difference between their attitudes to the Committee.”

• “Most of the time actually ministers ultimately do welcome the debates that we schedule. It might be a pain to deal with things, but if we schedule it they have to deal with it, and make a statement and have a policy position, it actually helps them. They say how grown up the debates have been.”

• “What I thought was lacking here, you were either a backbencher or frontbencher, and you either became a Minister or sat on a Select Committee and the backbenchers were somewhere where you languished. I hope that in years to come that the Backbench Business Committee will be a forum for holding government to account in a way that is exciting. One of the things I find exciting is that when we have a debate and there is one in Westminster Hall too, there is a real buzz and a real excitement in the air and that is really good. Backbenchers can see the role of the “backbenchers” having a role in itself. Your hands aren’t tied by collective responsibility – it is really exciting.”

Strangely if you listen to the podcast broadcast on http://www.wpradio.co.uk “Face to Face Encounters” series you will find Ann agreed with Natascha most of the time!

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.

International Womens day – two women MPs two issues!

PRESS RELEASE
http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
March 4th 2011

Www.wpradio talks to Rachel Reeves MP about those women who are having to wait two years longer for their pensions and Fiona Mactaggart MP on her International Women’s Day campaign

Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Minister for Pensions for the Labour Party, is calling on the coalition Conservative Liberal Democrat Government to reverse the changes it has announced to delay the pension age for women by two years, in some cases.

The MP for Leeds West, tells Women’s Parliamentary Radio, http://www.wpradio.co.uk that it’s about time the Women’s Minister, Theresa May MP and the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone MP, stood up for women and called on the Government to announce a “U” turn on this issue as it has done recently on selling off forest lands.

Ms Reeve told Boni Sones OBE, our Executive Producer that women are being hit by a double whammy as they come up to pensionable age and that 33,000 women will have to wait for two years longer before they can retire:

“These changes are being debated now in the Lords and in the Commons in May and June. The State Pension Age will be equalised for men and women in 2018 rather than 2020 and the State Pension Age will increase to 66 in 2020 rather than 2026.

“The impact of this will mean 4.9 million people will have to wait longer before they receive their state pension. But 500,000 women will have to wait for more than a year longer, of those, 300,000 will have to wait for more than 18 months longer, and 33,000 women will have to wait for two years longer before they receive their State pension, these are the women who will be turning 57 this Spring.

“They have had very little time to prepare for the changes, which start in five years times in 2016 and they will now be 65 or 66 before they can retire. I believe these changes are unfair because this group of women don’t have the savings to compensate for the changes.”

She said that to add “insult” to injury these women have been told that they can claim “unemployment” benefit instead by the Pensions Minister Steve Webb:

“I asked the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, what these women were supposed to do and I got quite an insulting response. He said these women could claim unemployment benefit, but they have worked all their lives, many have brought up children, they don’t want a hand out they want the pension they have contributed to all of their lives and they want them at the age they thought they were going to get it. In 1995 they were told the State Pension age would increase from 60 to 65, and now to heap these changes on top of those with just a few weeks’ notice is unfair. The unemployment benefits are £40 a week less than the pension they would be entitled to.”

Ms Reeve MP, said women were “disproportionately” affected by the changes compared to men, and that this group of women, turning 57 next week, will lose up to £5,000 a year:

“No man will have to work for more than a year longer as a result of these changes whereas half a million women will have to work for more than a year longer, women are disproportionately affected. Steve Webb has done a gender audit, but the audit done looks at the lifetime income of a man compared to women, and he’s said because women live longer than men they don’t lose out. But for those two years women are not getting their State Pension, they will lose up to £5000 a year and if they don’t get a job there is very little compensation for them.”

She said that these women were part of that “Big Society” and had not only worked but had cared for others too. Only relatively recently have they been able to join a proper pension scheme because part-time workers used to be prohibited from joining:

“This group of women are not really in a financial position to absorb these changes. The average 56 years old has £9,100 worth of pension savings worth £11 a week, whereas a man has a pension savings of £52,800 – that is nearly six times higher than women, we are not starting from the same base.

“Many of these women have taken time to look after their family, sometimes bringing up grandchildren too or looking after elderly parents, these women are the Big Society in action.

“Until the 1990s firms didn’t have to offer occupational pensions to part-time workers, so many of these women were not allowed to contribute to pensions throughout their life. Many were not paying the full stamp duty because they were in lower paid part-time work, so there is a huge inequality with their pension savings. Then there is the difference in average pay too between men and women so they have had very little time to prepare for these changes, it is not fair.”

Ms Reeve MP also pointed out that these women would lose out on the other benefits pensioners got and the poorest would be hardest hit:

“The other big thing is about prescriptions, so those who are poorer who have ill health lose out most, and also the housing benefits associated with it, so all in all this is a very raw deal for women approaching retirement. If you are having your State Pension age delayed for two years you will be losing £10,000 and if you are also claiming pension credit you will be losing around £15,000. There is also the loss of housing benefit, prescriptions and travel as well.”

She called on Women’s Minister, Theresa May MP and Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone to join the cross party campaign to reverse the changes:

“We’ve tabled an EDM, Early Day Motion, which has 70 signatures, with Lid Dems and Conservatives too, and we also have support in the Lords. I want to build up cross-party support for this.

“Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone do need to say what their views are on these changes and what conversations they have had. As Minister for Women and as the Minister for Equalities and in the lead up to International Women’s Day they really should be championing the case for women. The women most affected will be turning 57 this coming Sunday, and what a great birthday present to say to them across party we will reverse these changes.

“We have united the Trade Unions, Saga, Age Uk and the Daily Mail saying the Government should reverse these changes and I hope the Government, like on forests, will think again because they changes are not fair or proportionate and they will pay the price at the ballot box for this one!”

Fiona Mactaggart MP calls on the Government to set up a “Women and Equalities Audit Committee” on International Women’s Day

Fiona Mactaggart the Labour MP for Slough and Shadow Spokeswoman on Women is campaigning to set up a “Women and Equalities Audit Committee” on International Women’s Day.

Fiona will use the International Women’s Day debate on March 10th in the Commons to call for the Government to be made accountable on all women’s issue through the mechanism of a new Committee that will audit Government Departments on how they are treating women across the board.

“The Foreign Affairs Committee has just published a report on Afghanistan which doesn’t sufficiently address the concerns of women in Afghanistan, so what is the future for women in that Country? In the Democratic Republic of Congo women are being raped and re-raped as a weapon of war, so we need to focus on women around the World.

“We need to tackle the issue of women’s voice, and representation of women and one of the things we don’t do well enough in Parliament is to make sure that the Government is held to account on the issues of women and equalities. I have tabled an amendment to make sure we do that, to suggest that we create a “Women and Equalities Audit Committee” so that we can quiz any government department about the impact of their policies on women.

“This year we haven’t announced what we are going to give to the UN Women Committee, when 30 or so Countries have. Our silence will mean that some Countries will hold back too, so we need to make sure every government department is accountable on women, whether it is DFID on UN women, or DWP where women are paying for the pension’s crisis, or the Home Office on violence against women. On all of these things we need to hold Government to account and an Equalities Select Committee could do that.

“Spain has already pledged 22 million dollars to UN women, Britain has not pledged anything it is time for us to step-up.”

Fiona said she felt the government had “deliberately damaged” Labour’s Equality Act passed at the end of the last Parliament. She said she was shocked by the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb’s suggestion to cut back women’s pensions by as much as £10,000 with so little notice in his attempt to equalise the pension age for men and women:

“There is a lack of understanding in this Government about women’s lives. The reason for gender auditing was to make sure Government’s couldn’t be gender blind. The fact they are avoiding gender audits, and looking at dropping a number of equalities duties is evidence of this. The gay marriage proposals are a “cover”, it’s important, but not a radical change -a crime that is no longer a crime should be wiped off somebody’s record – , it is being “bigged up” to provide a smoke screen for the fact that the legislation being put in front of us in reactionary.”

Fiona said in the UK the new Equalities Act would need to be monitored by the appropriate Commission in order to ensure it was implemented effectively:

“If the Equalities and Human Rights Commission acts as a regulator in holding the government to account there is still a prospect the Equality Bill will make a difference to women and children’s lives and that is what we need to work towards.”

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.

A film about “Emily” and how to juggle work-life balance issues!

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
March 1st 2011

http://www.wpradio.co.uk – a new film of the life of the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison and juggling work-life balance even a small “tweak” will make a big difference

http://www.wpradio.co.uk is broadcasting two new podcast broadcasts – we take a trip back in time to the life of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison and we talk to a life-coach on how women MPs and those who take up “vocations” can juggle work-life balance.

A film of the life of “Emily” – Emily Wilding Davison:

Film Producer Joan Lane of WildThyme Productions Ltd http://www.wildthymeproductions.com and script writer and producer Barbara Gorna are making a film of the life of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who became a martyr to the cause of women’s votes when she was fatally injured in the 1913 Epsom Derby. She ran onto the track in support of the women’s right to vote campaign and was knocked over by the King’s horse but as this film reveals for the first time “Emily” did not commit suicide, her death was an accident.

The scarf “Emily” wore when she was knocked down is on loan to the House of Commons from Barbara and forms part of a small display near Central Lobby Westminster called “Parliament and Votes for Women”. “Emily” also hid herself in a broom cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, in the crypt of St Stephen’s Hall, on the night of the census on 2nd April 1911. It will be 100 years on 27th March 2011, the date of the next census, since she did this.

Joan kick started the script for the King’s Speech and like that film script “Emily” resonated with Joan, whose father’s family come from Morpeth, where “Emily” is now buried. Our Executive Producer, Boni Sones OBE, spoke to Joan and Barbara as they stood under the “Emily” scarf and progressed to Central Lobby.
Barbara told Boni:

• “The scarf has become a totem for the women’s movement worldwide as Emily attempted to put it on the Kings horse in 1913, but she was knocked down by the horse and died four days later.”
• “She was imprisoned eight times, and she went on hunger strike together with the others, and they were force fed, which was a nasty treatment, it was a government approved torture.”
• “Several things have come to light in our research. Joan and I have been working on it for about nine months, and we have looked at things like where “Emily” gets her anger from, and we think some of her personal anger came from her family circumstances.”
• “It’s been a very interesting journey. The scarf was in my possession before it was in the Commons. There is a great presence about the scarf, and I often feel there is someone standing over my shoulder telling me what I should do. I have become very immersed in “Emily’s” character and I think with Joan I have got it right.”

Joan told Boni:

• “”Emily” ducks underneath the barrier, and waits until the Kings horse is approaching and attempts to drape the scarf over the horse, and being knocked to the ground she suffered fatal injuries when the horse kicked her. As to suicide, it is very unlikely; she had brought a return ticket. It is not a way you would commit suicide, it is a very suspect reason for her being at the races.”
• “The stage play of the script of the Kings Speech arrived on my desk in January 2006 and I tried very hard to get a stage play and production mounted, deeming it worthy of big attention, and I showed the script to some film colleagues at Bedlam films. They took an option on it and I was able to help them kick-start it, with a reading of it too.”
• “When the script for “Emily” arrived on my desk it resonated with me as the Kings Speech had resonated with me for personal reasons. I had been a speech and language therapist and had also met the Queen Mother on several occasions. With “Emily” my father’s family came from Morpeth where she is now buried and I have been to that Church many times.”
• “Barbara has done a marvellous job on the screenplay. I am a little angry that young women don’t always go to vote knowing of this historical story. I don’t think young women know how women suffered to get the vote and perhaps with the film more young women will go out to vote. It is a story for women worldwide.”

Barbara’s short documentary film of Emily’s life can be viewed on http://www.wpradio.co.uk/facetofacevideos.html

How to juggle work-life balance: Does a “vocation” stop you taking a much needed break?

“A healthy selfishness” might just help us all juggle that “Work- life balance” question says Caroline Lloyd-Evans, coach, counsellor and relationship therapist. Here Caroline tells Boni Sones OBE, our Executive Producer how women have to work harder, compete harder and climb over their own complexes to navigate that obstacle course to achieve balance. “Tweaking a little” can make a big difference. Do listen, this advice is clear! http://www.cleconsulting.co.uk.

• “A healthy selfishness – I used to say you need to be self-aware, and women are more self-aware. We are much more honest and aware to start-with but we then have to work out how to apply it to ourselves and we have to look at our body and our mind and how we feel and how “in balance” we are. We then need to be practical to all the calls upon our time, because they are enormous.”

• “Women are always queried, women have to work harder and compete harder and climb over their own complexes, because they are tougher on themselves. If women love what they are doing, it is harder to get a decent balance between their work-life balance. It is like an obstacle course, if you put too much into your work your home-life might suffer and vice-versa. Helping people to say “no” is important, and working out how to get yourself support. Women are terrible at thinking they have to do everything.”

• “Westminster is about conflict – you notice it is always military phrases like “battles”. Parliament is about being challenging and confrontational but once you point a finger at somebody else you can hurt yourself, it can come back to yourself and make you feel quit uncomfortable particularly the more sensitive side of yourself.”

• “Healthy selfishness – you need to listen to your own body, and know that you can snap unless you do something to relieve the stress like taking a break or going to a class of some kind. You need to think “is this worth getting upset about?”. MPs see so many serious situations, it ought to help them to say we can “lower the temperature” and take a break when needed.”

• “We can tweak the obstacles, remove them, but those small differences we make for instance to relax a bit or step up a bit, it’s a bit like DIY, if you do something a little bit different it can make the stress get better. It’s about being more honest with yourself, if you keep pushing yourself, for instance drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, what use are you to others? You just have to start being more aware of yourself and know yourself better.”

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.

www.wpradio.co.uk teams up with VSO and the UN “Godmothers”

http://www.wpradio.co.uk
Women’s Parliamentary Radio

February 22nd 2011
For immediate release
http://www.wpradio.co.uk teams up with VSO and the UN “Godmothers” to hear how activists are challenging their local MPs to support the new UN Agency for Women

http://www.wpradio.co.uk VSO UN “Godmothers” documentary presented from Central Lobby, Westminster

1,500 women are dying a day in childbirth. Forced marriages, rape, violence, poverty, equal pay: Michelle Bachelet’s new UN Agency for Women has some vocal supporters in the UK who want to ensure it gets the funding it needs to make a difference. To make sure that happens, VSO has just launched the ‘Godmothers’ campaign http://www.thegodmothers.org.uk which calls on DFID to become a leading donor to UN Women by making a financial contribution of around 21 million dollars.

In this special Two Part 50 minute UN “Godmothers” documentary our Executive Producer Boni Sones OBE, caught up with Sharon Hodgson MP, campaigners themselves, and Anas Sarwar MP, as activists met their MPs in Central Lobby, Westminster.

Sharon Hodgson the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West told Boni:

• “It will be a talking shop if it has no money to do anything with, other Countries have started to put up the money, Spain has put up £13 million, Australia £8 million and when I asked Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, what the UK government was going to do he said they were going to have a strategy review in June and they would look at it after that. We need this money now if not the UN Agency for Women will be a talking shop.”
• “There are many major issues that need confronting on behalf of women and we really need the UN Women to have some teeth to say what is acceptable and what isn’t and for the UK government to back that.”
• “We hear about landmarks but at this point in time with all of the changes in the World, the Middle East, Egypt and other revolutions, I think the UN Agency for Women can be a real revolution for women across the developing World.”

Anas Sarwar the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, who sits on the International Development Select Committee, told Boni:

• “More than three-quarters of the poorest one billion people in the World today are women. Women have to be at the heart of our development strategy as a Country and that is why I support the UN Agency for Women and that is why the UK has to commit to it.”
• “Some of the greatest challenges we face in the developing world is to champion the role of women on issues such as access to education, violence against women, land ownership, women’s representation, all of which will be championed by the new UN Agency. Spain has committed £13 million but the UK hasn’t committed a single penny to this new Agency and we need to lead from the front. I will press the Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell on this.”
• “My constituents are natural internationalists; ordinary hard working people give generously to global disasters, even in the most difficult times. What people want is peace, prosperity and justice for every man woman and child throughout the World, and we as the UK most show leadership on this new UN Agency for women. We need to lead from the front on development.”

In Part 2 of UN “Godmothers” Boni talks to Lesley Abdela of Shevolution while she chatted with activists in Central Lobby.

Lesley Abdela told Boni:

• “The “Godmothers” has been set up to keep an eye on the British government and the UN Agency for women to make it work. This VSO initiative embraces a variety of supporters, ordinary people and organisations such as the WI. They want DFID to invest £21 million dollars, the same as it gives to UNICEF, a relatively modest amount.”
• “What I have seen time after time after time, women are in the front of campaigning for democracy, peace and progress but the moment it gets formalised they are pushed out. We are not where it matters at the top table; we are not opening the doors for women enough. In the Middle East talks for instance, there should be equal numbers of women.”
• “We are not asking for extra money into DFIDs budget, but for something like 0.2 per cent of DFIDs budget to be allocated to this. We either go full tilt and set up UN Women for success or why bother to do it at all?”

Footnotes:
1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. 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. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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

4. 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.

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

6. For more information contact Boni Sones OBE on 07703 716961.
End.