Age-related sexism: women candidates for council, mayor and commissioner elections?

Age-related sexism is a real obstacle to progress in getting more women to the political frontline, and it’s well time that political parties began to realise that and act upon it. The repeated failure in the UK and beyond to achieve more women in Parliament and elsewhere is a fundamental obstacle to meaningful universal suffrage.

Nonetheless, the continuing tendency is somehow to blame women themselves for not standing in sufficient numbers where there are winnable seats.  This is neither fair nor honest. Insofar as ‘fault’ is the issue, it lies rather more specifically with the present power elite (mostly male) than with ‘women’ in general.

The current belief is that ‘training’ will address the gender deficit in candidate lists, but this averts attention from some central issues.  One size does not fit all.  Inflexible programmes of induction can diminish rather than enhance the standing within their party of better experienced and qualified candidates; and this is especially true of mature women candidates entering the fray.

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FGM is a universal horror, including in Britain

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a truly dreadful topic, and we all wish there was no reason, ever, to consider it.  But there is. Whilst we in the UK see endless (and correct) concern for upholding the human rights of alleged dangerous extremists such as Abu Qatada,  we also permit without murmur hideous violence to female British minors, and sending thousands of small girls abroad every year expressly so they can be mercilessly mutilated, sometimes killed or murdered, in the name of cultural difference.

Today’s (22 April 2012) report and first leader in the Sunday Times reminds us how widespread and unspeakable – almost literally – FGM actually is, even in Britain.  Under their front page headline [paywall] “Revealed: Britain’s 100,000 mutilated women” the Sunday Times reports that a few very brave victims of this barbarism, such as the model Waris Dirie (founder of the Desert Flower Foundation), continue to speak out in the UK to demand immediate action to halt this atrocity.  But nobody does anything.

It’s estimated that in Britain about 20,000 girls are at risk of this nightmare very year.  That’s more than 50 desperately vulnerable children on any given day, and 20,000 neglected UK prosecutions annually for a very serious and especially horrific criminal offence.

Please sign and forward this e-petition (for UK citizens), posted 25 June 2012 on the HM Government website:

STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain

If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag   #NoFGM   and follow  @NoFGM1.  Thank you.

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Regional pay: how to increase the North-South divide and weaken the ConDem coalition?

As anticipated following Chancellor George Osborne’s budget, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has now declared that ‘regional’ pay for health workers is on the agenda.

Needless to say, those in the South-East will earn more under this arrangement than colleagues further North.  This is not however ‘only’ a question of health-care inequity and the salaries of health workers.

The wider issues, such as housing, are pressing and grim.  And the political fracture points for the Conservative-LibDem coalition may soon start to reflect these tensions.

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Government ‘incompetent’? Not when it comes to DE-governance…

Increasingly, we read that the present UK government is ‘incompetent’.   But I’d suggest the Government is ‘only’ incompetent in things it reckons are fundamentally unimportant for the longer-term.

David Cameron may make the occasional attempt to appear cuddly but George Osborne really doesn’t bother.  And why? … because the fundamental intention is to raze all social / public provision and pass it on to someone else, anyone else but the government.

DE-governance is the name of the Tories’ game.  And fast is the way they want to play it.

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Personal politics; when moralising replaces civic responsibility

The big issues in UK politics are how the Government is destroying public services, in favour of provision for which it is absolutely not responsible.  De-governance as quickly as possible is the route our Conservative-dominated political leadership has chosen.

The increasing interference by those same Tories in our private lives – whether it’s direct civil liberties, or our right to determine our own fertility, or whatever – is also diverting attention from de-governance.  And the news from across the Atlantic on, e.g., a woman’s right to choose (abortion) is alarming, with reports of extraordinary demonstrations and even efforts in some states such as Virginia to legislate for ‘medical rape’ – intended to prevent women going through with abortions – and the like.

Already there’s evidence that some anti-progressive UK campaigners are taking note.

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David ‘Two Brains’ Willetts blames women for two-brains families

Well done to the Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, for speaking out on climate change; he emphasises today (The Times, 25 February 2012) that ‘something real is happening’ when the ice cap starts to melt.

But did the man known as ‘Two Brains’ actually wear them both out getting to this pretty obvious conclusion?  Given that in the same Times piece he is reported as saying feminism is ‘partly to blame’ for a widening income gap, one must suppose so.

What appalling hypocrisy, coming from a Minister in a Government which is actively reducing opportunities for ‘ordinary’ women and their children.

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Britain’s railways are the worst in Europe for fares, efficiency and comfort.

Britain’s railways have been judged worst for fares, efficiency and comfort in a study of rail services in Europe.    It is estimated that the social, economic and environmental benefits of achieving a modal shift from road to rail – in terms of reduced congestion, accidents and emissions – could potentially reach £154.8bn by 2050.

But will anyone be listening, as we move into yet another phase of the Welfare Rights debacle?

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