Who says that politics is boring? On the very day of our September meeting, a minister admitted in parliament that the UK Government might break international law “in a very specific and limited way”. Perfect timing for “Women in Politics”.
Hannah Stevens, Director of the Parliament Project, http://www.parliamentproject.co.uk started with some quick-fire online polls:
- Are you registered to vote? (It was London Register to Vote Week! Hannah set us the challenge of finding 3 people who aren’t registered and getting them signed up. More information here: https://registertovote.london/https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2020/09/14/novotenovoice-london-voter-registration-week-2020/
- Are you a member of a political party? (Party members were in the minority.)
- Have you stood for elected office of any kind? (Lots of Belles have.)
- Have you campaigned? (Yes!)
Hannah’s own lightbulb moment came when she realised that party members are the ones who choose the candidates, so if you want more diverse politicians…
She is now Director of the Parliament Project, which encourages women to put themselves forward as candidates. They offer training and peer support and our second speaker, Claire Sheppard, has experienced that support. Claire is also the founder of Nunhead WI and the fantastic Covid support group Nunhead Knocks.
Claire took us through her political journey at her usual breakneck pace. She was always geeky about politics with a small “p” but didn’t think elected office was for her. Fast forward a few years: Claire has her own business, a new baby – and a cancerous tumour she named “Farage”.
Although she had joined the Green Party in 2015 she was still hesitating in 2017 when she met a woman at a Parliament Project event who had stood as an independent Councillor – and won. Finally, in 2018 Claire left the Green Party to try her luck as an Independent. She didn’t win, but she did have the biggest rosette, which she proved by holding it up on screen.
Claire is now back in the Green Party where she is working hard to get Siân Berry elected as London’s first Green Mayor. Claire is also the party’s Greater London Assembly candidate for Lambeth & Southwark.
One surprisingly encouraging point that emerged from the ensuing Q&A was that, in spite of the , horrific abuse that a very small number of women suffer, most people on the campaign trail are very nice.
Glitch campaigns to end online abuse https://fixtheglitch.org/about/