Election Blues… so to speak

7 May

Woke up to a much more rainbow-coloured Wales than expected…

Thatcher pretty much guaranteed that Wales will never be the Tories’ playground, but there’ve been some nasty surprises. I’m not party political by any stretch of the imagination, but the tiny fleck of blue in red south Wales was a sad sight – Julie Morgan (Labour), long-time campaigner for women’s rights (as well as voting against war in Iraq, trident, detention without charge…) lost her seat to the Tory candidate by just 194 votes. Sad times.

So, I’d like to throw in my 5 cents to the “What About Women?” debate. There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the leftie broadsheets around the invisibility of women in the election campaign, and of course the brilliant Fawcett campaign which has been taken up by the women’s sector across the UK, with hustings all over the shop (for a review of the one in Cardiff, have a gander at Jen’s blog post).

I don’t know what the picture’s like across the UK as a whole yet but a quick headcount of Wales (which has 40 seats) shows that just 7 of our MPs will be women. Lest we forget the feminist mantra, women make up 52% of the UK population. Tonight, the BBC News website says, discussions will begin between Lib Dems and the Tories. Clegg and Cameron may not be there, but attendees will include George Osborne, William Hague, Oliver Letwin, Ed Lewellyn, Chris Huhne, Danny Alexander, Andrew Stunnell and David Laws.

Good to see women are being proportionally represented in discussions around the future of our country tonight, then.

My house can admittedly be a bit ranty at times (I live with two right-on guys, one militant on gay rights and the other the loveliest hippiest liberal you’re likely to meet). Watching TV lastnight over a few beers, waiting for the (amazing) Ch4 Alternative Election to start, we got chatting about the invisibility of women. Channel-flicking from male presented to male presenter to male presenter… got bored… flipped to QI for a bit for some light entertainment… all male comedians. Even Channel 4 – while the programme was easily the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in months (especially post-“neutral”-10pm), only one of the four presenters was female (all hail Lauren Laverne, who if anything is even cooler post-Kenickie).

The lack of women candidates is frustrating. The “WAG”s thing is frustrating. The lack of female presenters, commentators, analysts is frustrating. But what REALLY gets me is the way that no one even seems to notice. It’s so normal (not as in “acceptable”, as in “the norm”) to not see any women talking about current affairs and politics in the public eye, that even the most lefty people aren’t talking about it (apart from us crazy feminists, obviously).

In other news in Wales; Wales Women’s National Coalition, the only umbrella organisation representing women’s groups to policymakers, has lost ALL its funding. This has important ramifications for women’s equality in Wales. For template letters and a call to action, see their website.

So. Slightly sombre in Cardiff this evening, despite waking up in the yellow, female-represented Cardiff Central. I’m worried about what will happen – as a citizen, as a woman and as a women’s sector employee. While the Welsh Assembly Government makes policy over an increasing number of areas relevant to women’s organisations and gender equality (including education, health, local government and housing), Wales’s budget is ultimately decided at Westminster. Plaid Cymru are the only party to put Rape Crisis Centres in their manifesto, but with just 2 seats at Westminster and 1 Rape Crisis Centre in Wales, forgive me if I’m not massively hopeful. The Welsh elections in 2011 are vital for the sector in Wales; it’ll be interesting to see what happens if there’s a Lib Dem/Tory coalition in Westminster and a Plaid/Labour coalition (as there is now) in Wales, I suppose.

Hm… need to find a silver lining..!

Cardiff Feminist Network is going from strength to strength. The energy, passion and enthusiasm is going from strength to strength and it’s really inspiring! So I’m trying to stay positive because it’s clearly all about the grassroots – “You might not see things on the surface, but underground it’s already on fire…”



One Response to “Election Blues… so to speak”

  1. feministcardiff May 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Cross-posted to UK Feminista’s blog: http://ukfeminista.org.uk/blog/cardiff%20feminist%20network.html

    If anyone wants to blog for UK Feminista too please get in touch, would be great to have a variety of voices on there from CFN!

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