This is Florence Nosegbe’s’s response to the questions put to NEC 2012 Candidates by LWN and Lead4Women.
As a candidate to the NEC we hope you’ll find time to answer the following questions so we can share your answers with our members and supporters:
Will you ensure that more Labour women are elected to parliament, including requiring that a minimum of 50% of Labour’s parliamentary by-election candidates should be women?
Yes – I would want us to actually go one step further and push for a minimum of 75% applied to all by elections – both parliamentary and council elections.
Will you commit to supporting the continued use of all women shortlists and to their application in seats with a strong Labour majority as well as Labour’s target seats?
Yes – I remain committed to supporting AWS and would favour clear leadership from the Party and the NEC on reminding members why this is important. I recently spoke recently to a group of young female students about my involvement in politics and they questioned me about why we have never had a female Labour Party Leader or Prime Minister. I am not usually lost for words, but on this occasion I could not answer the question, but I went on to explain about the ASW process and why to date it is only the Labour Party that have formally adopted this policy.
The reality is that number of people will comment on the need for us to have more women represented in politics, but I’m a firm believer in actions and not words. Without this positive affirmative action the Party would not have seen the record increase in female MP’s, including the historic election of 101 women in 1997. I would not want us as party to get fixated on areas with large labour majorities. Recent elections have demonstrated that we need to stop viewing certain areas as ‘safe seats’ and refocusing on reminding people why they should to vote for the labour candidate.
I would also go one step further and suggest that as a party we seriously start exploring the use of open primaries. We would need to design a system which included a spending cap on people seeking nomination, perhaps a final shortlist to be decided by Labour Party members and why couldn’t we have an all-women primaries?
What will you do to ensure equal and transparent application of AWS policy across the regions, including in Scotland and Wales?
I believe this is an area that the NEC would need to discuss with a clear selection criteria which included proposal and suggestions from members across all the regions. This could be equally applied to selections across the country.
I know that some local constituency parties feel that their choice is limited or that an ‘AWS’ has been imposed on them by the NEC and so it is important that we have a set criteria on when an AWS will be applicable to a seat. This is why I would favour an increase in the requirement for all council and parliamentary by-elections, target seats and winnable seats to be designated as AWS.
Would you support the formulation and publication of clear criteria for the application of AWS policy and what would your favoured criteria be?
We need to help ensure that the selections process is transparent and involves all members.
An area that I would also push for if elected to the NEC is the need for us to address the lack of representation from BAME, working class, disabled and LGBT women. The ASW system is yet to produce a BAME female candidate and we also need to look at how we can attract working class women candidates. Both groups have just as much to offer as their white female middle class university-educated professional colleagues, but there is still a barrier for these groups. The recent mayoral selections and elections highlighted the lack of women from these groups standing as
I think any AWS criteria should be consulted on with members as part of the ongoing refounding labour discussions and should include:
· a choice of candidates
· views of local members
· a spending cap for all candidates seeking nomination
· nature of the seat in question e.g. is it a target seat, a vacant seat or a new seat?
· some form of a quota to include widest pool of talent from BAME and working class women
What will you do to ensure we have a 50:50 PLP and 50:50 Labour administration in Scotland, Wales, London and local government?
I support the recommendation from the refouding labour submissions on the need to have a gender balance within the leadership team. This should be agreed with an ASW element and then applied to the PLP, local government and Labour Administration’s in Scotland and Wales.
I am a firm believer in lifelong learning. If elected I would push foradditional resources to be targeted at training and mentoring support for women. This training will help support candidates standing for senior cabinet or executive positions and help redress the male dominated administrations we see in a number of local councils. Across local
government, I would argue for dedicated training sessions and ongoing mentoring and support to complement the work carried out by the LGA Labour Group leadership network to help encourage and widen the pool of potential
candidates and to support new and existing councillors. This programme could be supported by the funds contributed by Labour Groups.
We should also look at how we can utilise the knowledge and expertise of former female councillors, MP’s, MEP’s, SNP’s and AM’s and support the work of organisations like LWN.
What will you do to ensure that the proportion of women in the PLP does not decrease as a result of boundary changes?
I think one clear way to ensure that we continue to increase the proportion of women elected is through the application of an AWS after any proposed boundary changes.
I know that there are a number of pilot parliamentary selections and that the NEC will be reviewing this process afterwards. If elected I would support the application of ASW in any new target seats.
Will you support our Refounding Labour proposals for changing the party, including implementing a proper complaints process and building a fully funded and organised Women’s organisation in the Labour Party?
Yes – the current complaint process can be very time consuming and demoralising for members. We need to ensure that all complaints are taken seriously and dealt with promptly.
I have attended the last two National Women’s Conference events and would push for additional similar events throughout the year.