Bristol Labour Women’s Forum

Unison Offices, Vintry House, Wine Street BS1 2BD

This is the reconvened Women’s Forum which had to be cancelled due to Ed Miliband’s visit to Bristol before the local elections. Thangam Debbonaire, former Bristol Labour Women’s Officer and now Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, and Councillor Helen Holland, Labour Group Leader, will keep us up to date with developments in Bristol and at the Women’s Conference in Brighton. Karin Smyth, PPC for Bristol South, will try and join us.

It will be an opportunity to discuss together how we encourage more women to stand locally and support women already chosen as candidates, and influence policy both local and national, building on the Arnie Graf meeting on Saturday 26 October.

This year Lucienne Boyle published her book, The Bristol Suffragettes.  Today Bristol is thought of as a very feminised city.  We have three women MPs, two of them Labour, on Conservative.  Last May saw the election of Bristol first Somali woman councillor in Lawrence Hill, Hibaq Jama. Helen Holland has been the Council Leader and continues to be the Leader of the Labour Group on Bristol City Council.  Thangam Debbonaire, Kerry McCarthy and Karin Smyth are campaigning to be elected Labour MPs in May 2015 and women in North West will be working for Darren Jones to be elected too. And the Kingswood selection is being rerun to choose another woman candidate in our area.

What would surprise the Bristol Suffragettes is the lack of diversity in decision making circles, continued under representation, violence against women and the whole macho political culture which puts women off politics.  They might have read with astonishment the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct, chaired by Labour MP Natascha Engel.  They might have agreed with our Labour policy of All Women Shortlists but wondered why there are not enough women on the Panel of Candidates to fill these places – yet.

Whatever way you want to change the world, to integrate care and health provision, provide more school places and childcare, or see women’s work in the community or family valued more highly, a living or simply a minimum wage, whether you have submitted ideas to Labour’s Old Women’s Commission or believe in intergenerational working together, whether you want to see the pay gap narrowed or the welfare and services cuts reversed in the current climate, or tackle trolling on twitter, whether you believe that we need to emphasise our listening skills, stop writing people off with offensive stereotypes, plebs or sluts, prevent linear thinking targeting and leaflets which only mention football, and start to value diversity, come and join us, Thangam, Helen, Judy and Fiona, hopefully Karin,  and others this Saturday at 3 pm.  We need to hear your thoughts and how we can support and nurture women who join and take up responsibilities in our Party.

We look forward to seeing you in Central Bristol, in Central Bristol at the Unison Offices, Vintry House, Wine Street  BS1 2BD, on the corner of The Pithay, entrance at the back of the building. If you have any problems getting in  contact Judy Wilson on 07952 934 395 or me as below.    
Mary Southcott