On Friday night, Tim Farron gave a cracking rally speech at the Liberal Democrat conference here in York (read it here). But the rally speech is usually just a warm up to the main event, the closing speech at the end of party conference. Tim Farron is giving that on Sunday (tomorrow), starting shortly after 11.45am. Given how good both Friday’s rally speech was, and also Tim’s debut leader’s speech at the last conference, this is sure to be a speech to catch.
If you are not in York yourself, you will be able to watch it live online: www.libdems.org.uk/conference-live
(I hope saying that hasn’t tempted fate with Tim now losing his voice, falling over on his way to the podium and discovering the autocues have been loaded with a Donald Trump speech.)
That live stream will cover all the conference debates tomorrow morning, including the big one on what the party should do to improve diversity amongst its elected members from 9.40am. I’ve covered that in the last Liberal Democrat Newswire, so just one thing to add this time.
Jo Swinson, the former MP who was one of the leading opponents of all-women shortlists last time the party debated them, has written a powerful piece on why she has changed her mind and now supports the full package of measures being proposed tomorrow, including all-women shortlists:
I believe all-women shortlists are necessary because without forcing the issue, our party defaults to cultivating a list of candidates that is three-quarters men, and it is down to random chance whether the small number of women happen to be in seats we have any realistic chance of winning…
And I believe all-women shortlists are necessary because time and time again, our party has been complicit in the application of all-men shortlists. Where have the voices of opposition been when members have been asked to choose only from a list of men? Funny, the arguments never seem to get raised about whether a candidate from a single gender shortlist will be good enough when he’s a bloke…
Anyone who suggests there aren’t enough good women potential candidates around in our communities must have their eyes closed. As an MP you meet countless fabulous women working tirelessly to make a difference in your community. They may not be banging down our door to be candidates, but that’s why we have to go out there, find, persuade and support them…
All-women shortlists do help with this problem. They will force some local parties in our most winnable seats to make this talent-scouting a priority, rather than shrug and say with a reluctantly accepting sigh: “What can we do? No women put themselves forward”. It puts the ball firmly in their court, rather than hoping that someone else will take responsibility.
You can read more here.