The debate over how to make our Parliamentary Parties more reflective of wider society is riven with entrenched assertions, with very little actual data to help inform the debate, so the Campaign for Gender Balance are to be congratulated for doing this little piece of research.
They have found that in the 63 constituencies where the Lib Dems have an MP, there are just 29 approved women candidates. In 44 of these constituencies, not a single woman is on the approved list.
Is it any wonder therefore that we have such a blind spot when it comes to getting female candidates to replace retiring male MPs?
This is even worse when you consider that around a third of the Lib Dems’ total membership is locked up in these seats. In total, the party has around 200 approve female candidates, so you would therefore expect the held seats to have 60-odd approved women candidates.
If every held constituency were to set itself the target of getting just one woman through the approval process we would, at a stroke, massively improve the gender imbalance of our candidates. The experience of the CGB over the past few years has been that just getting a few extra women improved can have a dramatic effect. So how about it guys?
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Gender Balance are trying to raise funds via Pledgebank, Jo Swinson MP, Baroness Walmsley and PPC Sarah Di Caprio have set up pledges to donate Â£20, Â£10 and Â£5 a month respectively with a view to raising an additional Â£5,000 annual income. Contrary to popular belief, the Campaign for Gender Balance hasn’t received any financial support via the party’s new Diversity Fund; in fact, this year it has had its grant cut slightly. Personally I believe it is one of the most effective, positive and liberal measures any party has yet come up to improve its diversity and deserves your support. Sign up!