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Webchat on women and politics, with Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Gloria De Piero: Tuesday June 24, 1pm

(136 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Jun-14 09:22:33

Hello

Hopefully lots of you will have seen coverage of our political culture survey over the weekend.

We asked 1200 of you what you thought about Westminster culture, and overwhelmingly you told us that you think that it's sexist, it's not family-friendly, and that to get on in politics you have to be ruthless, ambitious, rich, well-connected and - last but not least - male.

You also told us that you think the political culture in Westminster doesn't lead to politicians being able to take effective decisions about policies that will change people's lives for the better. And you told us that most of you (around two-thirds) would never consider standing for political office.

We're going to be having a webchat on Tuesday at 1pm to discuss the findings with the women's ministers/shadow minister from the three main parties:

Nicky Morgan is the Conservative MP for Loughborough, and is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Women's Minister

Jo Swinson is the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, and is the Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations and the junior Equalities Minister

Gloria De Piero is the Labour MP for Ashfield and Shadow Minister for Women and Equality.

Please join us on Tuesday at 1pm - and if you can't make it then, as ever, please post up any comments or questions in advance.

Thanks
MNHQ

STOP PRESS - DO TAKE A LOOK AT THIS RATHER FABULOUS VIDEO OF NICKY, JO AND GLORIA

bambino37 Mon 23-Jun-14 11:00:38

Shirley williams was a likely lass but in the end disappointed.

lisbapalea Mon 23-Jun-14 14:40:37

My main issue with political culture is the pathetic example that is set to those people who should be inspired by the leaders of our country.

As the majority of politicians on our screens are male, the feeling that we are being run by overgrown, overpriveliged schoolboys who spend their time taking pleasure in squabbling with each other is hard to shift.

My 4yo daughter listens to the radio with me and often asks questions like 'who is David Cameron' or 'what's a prime minister'. I tell her that a PM is someone we choose to help make the best decisions over what happens to schools and hospitals etc.

That may be a simplistic view on politics but I do think it's the simple stuff that appears to be forgotten by those with the power at their fingertips, and they in fact prefer to bicker over party differences and act like school children to the point when a speaker has to pull them into line, so they show no sign of actually giving a damn about the people they're supposed to represent. The voters have obviously become frustrated and far too many are now starting to be seduced by odious types such as Farage who is cashing on in this disillusionment and putting on his awful 'man of the people' pretence in the hope that he can pull the wool over people's eyes and get to the top through luck more than anything else.

My main point I suppose is that good leaders do and can exist in various walks of life but they just seem to be absent in politics at the moment. I have worked with some great bosses in my working life (male and female) and I have been inspired and impressed by those at the top.

I just wish we had a chance of genuinely feeling inspired by those at the top of UK Govt, whether they are male or female, and that we could trust that they really are looking out for the country's best interests, rather than their own pathetic ambition to put someone down in the House of Commons with a pithy one liner.

That is the only way that young people will ever start to care about politics and get off their backsides and decide to vote.

Sorry if this misses the 'women in politics' angle but I wanted to get it off my chest!

Crumblemum Mon 23-Jun-14 15:28:41

OK so the problem is pretty well documented. Politicians by and large (present company excepted) just aren't that attractive. They don't seem to know much about everyday life, but at the same time seem to think they know EVERYTHING. They either seem to be not-listening or shouting.

The problems seem so entrenched it will take a long time to improve (sorry to be pessimistic) but what one thing do you think could improve the situation?

Frances5050 Mon 23-Jun-14 16:13:31

"Outdated, ruthless, rich and male: that is women’s overwhelming and damning view of Westminster", according to Mumsnet's survey. Crumblemum asks "What one thing could we do to improve the situation?"

Here's one thing: take a look at www.5050parliament.co.uk to campaign for debate and take action to bring about real change.

Darkesteyes Mon 23-Jun-14 16:48:18

Slightly off topic but because decisions made in Parliament ,affect peoples lives all politicians should be made to undergo a psychological assessment prior to election.

TeWiSavesTheDay Mon 23-Jun-14 16:51:04

I'd like to know how each of you got your jobs, and what steps you'd recommend women who'd like to get more involved and maybe stand to be an MP themselves?

I don't know anyone who has had a job in politics personally.

Frances5050 Mon 23-Jun-14 16:52:59

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

badooby Mon 23-Jun-14 16:59:26

Hello - thank you for coming on.

PMQs embarrasses me. Does it embarrass you?

Frances5050 Mon 23-Jun-14 17:04:43

Question for Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Gloria De Piero:

How can we get 178 more women MPs in the House of Commons?

(From a population of 32 million women, AIBU?)

This would make for a more balanced, representative 50:50 Parliament, instead of the current 77:23. This Apolitical Aspiration is shared by men and women. See photo of Ben Bradshaw MP.

Frances5050 Mon 23-Jun-14 17:23:43

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Darkesteyes Mon 23-Jun-14 17:26:49

Hello to all of you. (sorry I didn't put that in my last post)
Gloria I would like to address this to you as I read your interview in the April issue of Red magazine about how you felt the only way to get out of poverty at 15 was to pose for pictures.
There are many women both young and older who feel that the sex industry is the only route available out of poverty.
In 2000 I was on Labours New Deal After completing 3 months workfare which was a combination of a placement at a charity shop and one at the local council those "lovely people" at Pelcombe (the full ND was overseen by Reed) they wanted me to do yet ANOTHER 3 months workfare at a soup factory. I found an advert for a job in a sex chatline office and took it. Not everyone can cope with it and I did spend the first 3 days in a state of high anxiety but after that I settled into it and made some great friends in the other young women who were working there.
That was a long time ago but I have had discussions on threads with someone who has exited the industry and she says the uptake has surged since 2010.
This is one of the reasons why I CANNOT get on board with this idea of stricter benefits rules for those aged between 18 and 21.
It will also be harsher on young children who are exiting the care system.

Gloria I thought you came across well in the Red interview and the photographer who took advantage of your situation should have bloody well been prosecuted You were under age.

Unfortunately I think there are many more like him and worse out there who will be ready to take advantage (and are already taking advantage) of people being affected by these kinds of policies.

The chatline office job is still the highest paid job ive ever had. Which says it all really!

Darkesteyes Mon 23-Jun-14 17:29:03

Sorry I meant young adults who are exiting the care system.

stillstandingatthebusstop Mon 23-Jun-14 17:35:18

Hi there

I see a problem with politics seeming irrelevant and somehow distant from young people. For example, ds1 has just turned 18, and didn't not intend to vote in the May elections, until I got mad and talked about how different it was in the not so distant past and how lucky he is to have a vote etc So my question is, how can political parties make politics more relevant to young people?

Another off topic question grin

BarbarianMum Mon 23-Jun-14 17:52:53

Why is PMQ allowed to proceed in the way it does (buffoonery, jeering)? How can any normal woman engage with that?

TheStandard Mon 23-Jun-14 18:13:18

This is one for Jo and Nicky really.

Labour has already made big strides with women's representation through all-women shortlists.

Do you (Jo and Nicky) personally agree with that as a way of increasing women's presence as MPs?

If not, what measures do you think should be taken? (Or do you not think anything should be done?)

What are your parties currently doing to increase the numbers of female MPs? Both LibDems and Tories have pretty lamentable records on this.

stillstandingatthebusstop Mon 23-Jun-14 18:39:50

For Jo Swinson

The Liberal Democrat Party must have real problems being credible with women voters after the recent Lord Rennard scandal.

How can I vote for a party that does not react strongly when it's women activists are reported to be being sexually harassed?

AndHarry Mon 23-Jun-14 18:43:52

I'd love to work towards standing as an MP but am totally put off by the crazy working hours. Do you think it would be a good idea to have more normal working hours and holidays?

CarolineWheatley Mon 23-Jun-14 18:47:49

Do you think that party politics incentivises politicians to act in the short-term interests of their own progress in the party and not in the long-term interests of the population as a whole?

What would you change (whether you agree or not with the above there must be something) to increase the incentives to act for the greater good in the long term?

orangeone Mon 23-Jun-14 18:48:31

1. PMQ - really what's the point? A bunch of children booing and jeering at each other in a way that I spend most of my day encouraging my pre-schooler not to do?

2. Do you think that politicians should have limited terms in office? This reduces 'career politicians', ensures that they have to do a 'normal job' at some point so can represent the general population better, and may specifically open the doors to more women (perhaps being more family friendly as to serve in parliament becomes something you do for a limited time so can cope with crazy hours?

charlieandlola Mon 23-Jun-14 18:58:55

At least two of you are mothers to under 5's , am I right ? An MP seems incompatible with family life.?
My friends husband is an MP and they rarely have a weekend when he is home uninterrupted and then Sunday night to Thursday he is in London.
School holidays he is at home but often travels abroad and around the country. They had to fly back last summer from their only holiday week in France as MPs were summoned home.he has missed all his kids birthdays for the last 4 years. They get shouted at in the street and their eldest is being bullied at school because of his dad's job.
I expect his wife to leave him shortly as she feels utterly abandoned and tells me that he is a virtual stranger to her.

Is this a true representation or is she making it all up ?

It all sounds grim and if true then why would women put themselves through that, abandon their family to be shouted at on Newsnight, jeered in the chamber and abused in the street and online ?

frizzcat Mon 23-Jun-14 19:13:33

Agree with the poster who wrote about the buffoonery around PM question time. This occurs throughout political debate, sound bites, that no doubt have the marketing and PR teams slapping each other on the back.

Lack of responsibility from all MP's, attempting clever word play - "well if you listened to David Cameron he didn't actually apologise" blah blah blah.

Westminister is not for women? And certainly not for women with families. Having studied Politics, I knew about the gruelling work schedule of MP's. Oona King has also written about the sexism and the fact that if you choose life as an MP, you don't have time for family. This happens in lots of jobs, but shouldn't Westminister be leading the way in flexible working, home working why do all these MP's need to be in Westminister, we have bloody skype and all rhese other things that mean, second homes wouldnt be needed! Child care arrangements such as in- work crèches, they have examples of this working in Europe, with a high rate of working mothers, which is great for the economy, but also for Politics. Imagine the female interest if these things were in place?

Quivering Mon 23-Jun-14 19:26:04

I'd be interested to hear what you think about jobshares for mps as a way to bring more women into politics? Or if you have any other suggestions yourselves?

DoItTooJulia Mon 23-Jun-14 20:00:54

I think that this contributes to why women are put off a career in parliament.

I read this and I am horrified he has kept his job. How do you try to encourage women into a career when their colleagues behave like this and their boss minimises it?

Breaking the rules, I do have a second question.

What single measure could be taken to increase women in politics, in your opinion?

my one question (although I have many!)

Which party do you think will be the next to have a female leader or female chancellor of the exchequer?

Spottybra Mon 23-Jun-14 20:24:07

I have lots of questions, but my main one, as previously stated, my family is important to me. I would consider being an MP were it not for the work schedule. I speak with experience when I say many employers are not working as flexibly or allow working from home as habitually as it should be. In your opinion shouldn't parliament be the one leading these changes by example, by adopting family friendly hours, job shares, and changing the sexist, buffoonish, and generally embarrassing place that is Westminster to a more modern workplace?

Peacocklady Mon 23-Jun-14 21:15:27

I would like to ask each of you whether you have faith in your party leaders.
When they were all photographed holding the Sun newspaper and smiling it seemed that their main priority is getting votes. Why did they do that?
Where is their conviction? Who is going to stand up for a creative education? Who is going to speak up for the poor?

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 23-Jun-14 22:24:02

Hi all - can you share your route into politics, what compromises you have had make along the way, and do you genuinely think things are better for women in politics now than when you started out?

MrsRTea Mon 23-Jun-14 22:54:29

My question is to Gloria: Can I have an owl?

And is there any chance of an Eagle?

FannyFifer Tue 24-Jun-14 00:17:38

Scottish Parliament has a higher percentage of woman, deputy first minister is a woman also the leader of Labour Party & Tory party are female.
Presiding officer & deputy PO are women as well.

Holyrood is a much more open & friendly parliament, none of the old boys club like at Westminister.

The hours are also more family friendly and there is an on site crèche, politics in Scotland is certainly a lot more modern than London.

What do you think can be done to attract women to English politics?

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 10:56:58

Test

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 10:57:27

Test

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 10:58:53

Test

AndHarry Tue 24-Jun-14 11:10:23

All the MPs banned already? grin

BananaHammock23 Tue 24-Jun-14 11:12:03

We've had a woman prime minister and a gay cabinet minister, but these seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule. Lots of talk on here about how sexist parliament is, but to go slightly off on a tangent, do you think it's harder to succeed in parliament if you are gay? (man or woman).

EVAWCoalition Tue 24-Jun-14 11:16:47

hi nicky, jo and gloria -

you'll know the End Violence Against Women Coalition works to end all forms of abuse of women and girls. we talk regularly to MPs in all parties.

my question is - following the Mumsnet survey findings, do you think each of your parties is intent on sorting out sexist behaviour and sexual harassment as a matter of urgency?

i ask because our Coalition requested and then published each of your internal party policies on sexual harassment in May and when we had a lawyer look at them we were very disappointed to find all the policies were inadequate and appear to show that your parties are not across equality law. eg you are not clear on prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment of party members.

we think your credibility on critical women's safety issues - including domestic and sexual violence, FGM, forced marriage, sex and relationships education in schools and more - is affected when your own houses are not in order. even when the news is full of rennard, mike hancock, fabricant, calm down dear...

we know that women's safety issues really matter to voters - we always get loads of support for our campaigns from Mumsnetters, and in the local elections in May more than 800 local elections candidates signed up to our 'women's safety pledge' indicating its resonance at that level.

there is a link between the parties' failure on sexist behaviour and policy making on violence against women and girls. letting sexist stuff go contributes to the idea that violence and abuse is a (minor) women's issue. when really we need many more male MPs, on the back and front benches, to take these things on with all of you.

sorry for mini essay (!) and look forward to your answers!

Sarah/EVAWCoalition

brandnewinformation Tue 24-Jun-14 11:23:42

Hi Nicky, Jo and Gloria - what's the most sexist thing that's happened to you in Parliament?

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 11:27:01

Test

bluebellgirl Tue 24-Jun-14 11:27:46

Rachel Reeves seems to be doing a good job getting Labours message out

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 11:27:51

Test

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 11:28:27

Test

bluebellgirl Tue 24-Jun-14 11:30:08

Will Labour stop ESA for sick people being means tested?

CountingWomenIn Tue 24-Jun-14 11:30:20

At the Counting Women In coalition we're really pleased that Mumsnet is hosting this webchat. It's shocking that so many women feel excluded from politics but with so few women in Parliament it's no surprise. We'd like to ask Jo, Nicky and Gloria what their parties are going to do after the General Election to make sure there are more women candidates at the next election? How are we going to get to 50/50 women and men in Parliament before our daughters are collecting their pensions?

www.countingwomenin.org
www.electoral-reform.org.uk/thegendergap

Katn Tue 24-Jun-14 11:42:45

I think some of the Hansard society stuff on possible reforms to PMQs sounds good. I actually like the fact the PM has to go to the House of Commons and account for his actions each week, it's the posing that goes with it that frustrates me.

I think quick-fire questions, and questions from the public sound like a great idea. What do you think?

alice93 Tue 24-Jun-14 11:51:05

My question is about the campaigning involved to be an MP. I know my MP quite well, and watch him every weekend tirelessly campaign in his area, election or not. He is always working.
As a university student of politics, and mum of one baby, I'd love to go into politics. But even I, (being a full time mum and student) have to admit the hours of an MP, on and off the clock, are very unsuitable for mums.

What are your experiences of collecting your children from school, taking them to football or dance classes whilst campaigning?

ConferencePear Tue 24-Jun-14 11:52:09

I hate our present government of 'three men in grey suits' with the occasional loveable buffoon (Boris & Nigel) thrown in for light relief.
Do you agree with me that if there were more women in parliament the joke that is the CSA would be sorted out ?
I know you've tried Nikki.

sleepychunky Tue 24-Jun-14 12:15:50

MNHQ - loving the colour-coding!

southwest1 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:40:48

A question for Jo, you worked up to a couple of days before your son was born, does that not show that being an MP and a mother are not really compatible?

And for Nicky, what's been the biggest change going from being a PPS to being a junior minister and do you think that as a PPS you actually had more chance to influence policy?

I'd just like to say that I feel there's a lot more to politics than Westminster - so much is achieved by campaigning groups, charities, and by local communities to effect real changes in people's lives both at home and around the world.

So a question - do you think people, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly bored and disengaged with the narrow politics of Westminster? And perhaps putting their energies and abilities elsewhere to achieve change?

QothTheRaven Tue 24-Jun-14 12:54:09

Hi to everyone,

MPs are paid about £60k (which does sound like a lot) but actually in London in particular, do you think that is that enough to attract the best candidates?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 12:57:07

So here we at Westminster dotted around various offices in what is turning out to a feat of extraordinary logistics... And we'll be kicking off shortly. It's a kind of free for all answer fest but hopefully we'll be able to get some conversation going between the guests too at some point...

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:01:31

Hi mumsnetters, it's good to be here. looking forward to answering your questions and hearing your ideas on how we make politics a more woman friendly place

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:01:46

Hi. Nicky Morgan here - its very nice to be taking part in this chat and I am looking forward to our discussion. I was actually saddened to read the survey results because I really believe we need many more women to be involved in politics at all levels. Now to focus on your posts..

Bingbongbinglybunglyboo Tue 24-Jun-14 13:02:18

Hello,

I have recently become much more aware that newspapers in this country can be extremely sexists in their reporting of news. I was surprised to find out that I couldn't make a complain to the press complaints commission about a specific example found in a broadsheet, as I was not the person the article was about.

Do you think women should be able to complain to a regulatory body about sexist news reporting, even if it is not about them, and if so what do you think is the best way to achieve this?

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:04:23

Crumblemum

OK so the problem is pretty well documented. Politicians by and large (present company excepted) just aren't that attractive. They don't seem to know much about everyday life, but at the same time seem to think they know EVERYTHING. They either seem to be not-listening or shouting.

The problems seem so entrenched it will take a long time to improve (sorry to be pessimistic) but what one thing do you think could improve the situation?

Hi Crumblemum. Couldn’t agree more. When I got this job the first thing I did was to go out across the country to listen to what women were saying because I completely agree with you as politicians we don’t do enough listening and learning. If there’s one thing I’d like to change about politics it would be that it’s ok to say ‘I don’t know’. The most off-putting thing is when politicians avoid answering the question rather than saying – I don’t know, or if they sound like they’re reading from a pre-prepared script. It puts people off politics and people getting involved in politics because they feel like they need to know the answer to EVERYTHING, when actually the most important attribute is that you feel passionate about representing your neighbourhood, community and country.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:04:46

Delighted to be joining you guys for this webchat - my DH has just picked up my son so I don't have to type one-handed!

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:06:02

TeWiSavesTheDay

I'd like to know how each of you got your jobs, and what steps you'd recommend women who'd like to get more involved and maybe stand to be an MP themselves?

I don't know anyone who has had a job in politics personally.

Its a really good question. I was a solicitor before I was elected in 2010. I'd never worked in politics or parliament before arriving here. I joined the Party when I was 16 and simply helped others knock on lots of doors for years. Then in 1999 I thought I would like to have a go at being an MP. Once I got on the candidates list I then applied for constituencies, much like applying for any other job and I was picked by the local party to fight Islington South in 2001 and Loughborough in 2004 and 2006. So, the first step is just to get involved in your local party.

woeface Tue 24-Jun-14 13:06:10

Can I ask all of you what you think of the Rebekah Brooks/Andy Coulson phone-hacking verdict?

Should we be worried about the 'cosy' relationship between political parties and some sections of the media? And what needs to be done to make sure that only those whose probity is unimpeachable get close to power in the future?

NK5BM3 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:06:54

Hello there,
thank you for taking part in this webchat. I wonder whether you will be able to comment about your party's efforts to get more women on board at every level, particularly minority group women? A lot of research talks about how difficult it is to get women on board in private organisations (c.f. 30%club etc). How do you think we can change the mindset that it's ok for women to seek board membership or be involved in politics?

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:08:29

JugglingFromHereToThere

I'd just like to say that I feel there's a lot more to politics than Westminster - so much is achieved by campaigning groups, charities, and by local communities to effect real changes in people's lives both at home and around the world.

So a question - do you think people, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly bored and disengaged with the narrow politics of Westminster? And perhaps putting their energies and abilities elsewhere to achieve change?

I certainly think that younger people are becoming more engaged by particular issues rather than joining a Party. Campaigning groups do achieve change and the good ones get their points across well. But ultimately it is MPs as law makers who can really change things and that is why I wanted to be elected and why we need more women here.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:10:01

Crumblemum

OK so the problem is pretty well documented. Politicians by and large (present company excepted) just aren't that attractive. They don't seem to know much about everyday life, but at the same time seem to think they know EVERYTHING. They either seem to be not-listening or shouting.

The problems seem so entrenched it will take a long time to improve (sorry to be pessimistic) but what one thing do you think could improve the situation?

I agree with Frances5050 – YANBU! If I had to choose one thing I’d say get more women elected. While it wouldn’t be a panacea to the problems of the political disconnect, I think a more representative Parliament would have more credibility with the public and reflect and respond to the concerns of our country better.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:10:41

TeWiSavesTheDay

I'd like to know how each of you got your jobs, and what steps you'd recommend women who'd like to get more involved and maybe stand to be an MP themselves?

I don't know anyone who has had a job in politics personally.

Hiya TeWiSavesTheDay The truth was I couldn’t get a job in politics when I was in my early 20s. I applied to MPs, think tanks, Unions but no one would give me a job. I found it easier to get a job in the media – one of the most notoriously difficult careers to break into! In February 2010 the MP for Ashfield stood down and within days I’d packed a bin-liner and gone to Ashfield hoping that the Ashfield Party would select me as their candidate – and yes, you need an incredibly supportive partner! But I wouldn’t have stood for just any seat, I wanted to represent somewhere where the people are like me and I’m like them.

Politics is crying out for more women and more people from ordinary backgrounds and there is support. In the Labour Party we’ve got something called the ?future candidates programme? which gives training and mentoring to labour members from under-represented backgrounds who are interested in standing.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:11:26

Frances5050

Question for Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Gloria De Piero:

How can we get 178 more women MPs in the House of Commons?

(From a population of 32 million women, AIBU?)

This would make for a more balanced, representative 50:50 Parliament, instead of the current 77:23. This Apolitical Aspiration is shared by men and women. See photo of Ben Bradshaw MP.

Well first we need to find a lot more than 178 who want to stand because, however hard some of us work, there are some seats where a particular party is going to struggle to win. So, those of us who are here need to act as good role models and really tell people what it is like to be an MP and make it clear it is a job open to everyone. It would be great to get to 50:50 but for now I'd like to get to over 30% as that is when we start to see cultural change

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:11:54

TeWiSavesTheDay

I'd like to know how each of you got your jobs, and what steps you'd recommend women who'd like to get more involved and maybe stand to be an MP themselves?

I don't know anyone who has had a job in politics personally.

I joined the Lib Dems at university. After I graduated, friends in the party persuaded me to stand for Parliament and I did so in 2001 as I thought it would be an interesting experience, though I was working in marketing for a radio station at the time and didn’t actually want to be an MP. During the campaign I realised I was much more passionate about campaigning for changes I wanted to see in our country than about getting more people to listen to Viking FM (fab radio station though it was and is!), and I decided to pursue politics more seriously. To cut a long story short I moved back home to East Dunbartonshire, won the contest to become the Lib Dem candidate and then worked incredibly hard to get elected in 2005.

If you’re interested in working as an elected politician, I’d recommend looking at the different parties and working out which most aligns with your views, then joining and getting stuck in with campaigning and community work – the processes for becoming approved as a candidate and then being chosen for a particular constituency vary in each party, but there are organisations in each party that can provide further advice on the best ways to do this.

There are other jobs in politics too, and alongside Hazel Blears MP and Eric Ollerenshaw MP I helped set up a scheme to provide paid placements for people from under-represented background to work in Parliament (more at: www.speakerscheme.co.uk/). You can also find lots of political jobs advertised at www.w4mp.org

Thanks Nicky. I guess it's quite worrying too when a large % of the population opt out of the principal part of the democratic process by not voting in elections? I'm sure more diversity of MP's at Westminster including more women would help with this at least somewhat.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:13:11

Darkesteyes

Hello to all of you. (sorry I didn't put that in my last post)
Gloria I would like to address this to you as I read your interview in the April issue of Red magazine about how you felt the only way to get out of poverty at 15 was to pose for pictures.
There are many women both young and older who feel that the sex industry is the only route available out of poverty.
In 2000 I was on Labours New Deal After completing 3 months workfare which was a combination of a placement at a charity shop and one at the local council those "lovely people" at Pelcombe (the full ND was overseen by Reed) they wanted me to do yet ANOTHER 3 months workfare at a soup factory. I found an advert for a job in a sex chatline office and took it. Not everyone can cope with it and I did spend the first 3 days in a state of high anxiety but after that I settled into it and made some great friends in the other young women who were working there.
That was a long time ago but I have had discussions on threads with someone who has exited the industry and she says the uptake has surged since 2010.
This is one of the reasons why I CANNOT get on board with this idea of stricter benefits rules for those aged between 18 and 21.
It will also be harsher on young children who are exiting the care system.

Gloria I thought you came across well in the Red interview and the photographer who took advantage of your situation should have bloody well been prosecuted You were under age.

Unfortunately I think there are many more like him and worse out there who will be ready to take advantage (and are already taking advantage) of people being affected by these kinds of policies.

The chatline office job is still the highest paid job ive ever had. Which says it all really!

Hi Darkesteyes. We shouldn’t be living in a society where women feel like the main capital they have is their physical appearance. I take your point on low pay and that’s why we’ve said if we form the next Government we will make ending the scandal of low-pay a priority by increasing the minimum wage and giving businesses a tax break to pay the living wage.

JustOneCube Tue 24-Jun-14 13:13:49

The stats in the MN miscarriage campaign were pretty shocking - as were lots of MNers' stories about the care they received - will you commit to a manifesto pledge to improve miscarriage care in next parliament please?

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:14:37

badooby

Hello - thank you for coming on.

PMQs embarrasses me. Does it embarrass you?

I wish PMQs wasn’t the main way that the House of Commons is depicted in the media – it doesn’t make a good impression and in fact the first ever time I asked a question at PMQs it was to make the point that the Punch & Judy approach doesn’t work! www.youtube.com/watch?v=48nBEdq5pug

Thankfully Parliament isn’t always like that, and there are many debates that are thoughtful and conducted with much more respect on all sides. But PMQs is the weekly set piece event and while there are moments of genuine wit and sometimes very moving questions, too often it is the House of Commons at its worst, boorish, shouty and disrespectful to the public who deserve better.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:15:03

badooby

Hello - thank you for coming on.

PMQs embarrasses me. Does it embarrass you?

When people make silly noises or heckle continuously it annoys me. The concept of PMQs is good - the PM spends half an hour a week being quizzed by elected representatives on many different subjects. Other Parliaments and overseas MPs are amazed when they hear about it. But I can see why it puts some people off - although, having said that, I have many constituents and friends who are desperate for tickets. I think it is good to have the debate though because MPs can just get used to things and not ask whether they actually work anymore

StephanieDA Tue 24-Jun-14 13:15:30

'You can't be what you can't see' - we all recognise how crucial positive role models are for young women and yet our largest circulation daily newspaper portrays them as sexual objects every day on its most prominent page and the government doesn't take it seriously, and even ignores that bit in the Leveson Report.

I'd just like to know your thoughts on that from your position within Parliament.

nameequality Tue 24-Jun-14 13:15:33

Jo/Gloria/Nicky - do you get much chance to get together as women in cross-party events?

I'm just thinking that if you all did it might be easier to push through things which would benefit all MPs and things which benefit all women - obviously things on which you can find a consensus! grin

Also do you think that the fact that there is such a low percentage of women MPs has contributed to FOR EXAMPLE wink the fact that mothers' names are STILL not recorded on marriage certificates in England & Wales??!!

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:16:15

JugglingFromHereToThere

Thanks Nicky. I guess it's quite worrying too when a large % of the population opt out of the principal part of the democratic process by not voting in elections? I'm sure more diversity of MP's at Westminster including more women would help with this at least somewhat.

Entirely agree - one of my most important tasks, I think, as the MP for Loughborough is visiting local schools and trying to enthuse pupils about voting and politics and parliament

nameequality Tue 24-Jun-14 13:17:01

~benefit all WOMEN MPs that should say

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:18:44

AndHarry

I'd love to work towards standing as an MP but am totally put off by the crazy working hours. Do you think it would be a good idea to have more normal working hours and holidays?

Hi AndHarry.. I love it when I hear people say they’d love to stand for Parliament. In fact, I think the fact that 1/3rd of mumsnet members would consider it is really encouraging! Parliament sits about 30 odd weeks a yr. You can normally work it to stay away from home a max 3 nights in those weeks. I definitely try and spend as much time as possible in my constituency because I think it’s the biggest part of my job and it’s where I feel most fulfilled. On working hours - You only have to vote until 10pm on a Monday but even on 7pm votes you may miss bedtime if your family are based in London. But I accept even this is difficult for parents, and I do think there’s a case to say that in special circumstances where MPs have caring commitments whether they could vote by proxy.

But that still leaves the problem of having to leave your family for half the week more than half a year – the question is, if we were to invent parliament today, would it look like this? Probably not. So how should we change it? Here ‘s a call out to mumsnetters – if you have thoughts on how we can change the system email me on Gloria.depiero.mp@parliament.uk with mumsnet in the subject heading and I promise to forward your ideas to the Speaker.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:19:30

southwest1

A question for Jo, you worked up to a couple of days before your son was born, does that not show that being an MP and a mother are not really compatible?

I don't think so - I could have stopped earlier if I'd wanted to, and indeed I decided near the end to play it by ear as everyone's pregnancy is different. I was feeling good so carried on, though with quite a few changes to the way I worked, such as holding meetings closer to where the House of Commons votes take place so I didn't have to be physically running around. And of course the plan was for me to have nearly a week to rest before giving birth, but then my son had other ideas and arrived early!

Colleagues were really understanding and supportive throughout my pregnancy, and I think the response from co-workers can make a big difference about how manageable pregnancy and indeed parenthood is while juggling work responsibilities.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:19:58

sleepychunky

MNHQ - loving the colour-coding!

me too!

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:20:42

stillstandingatthebusstop

Hi there

I see a problem with politics seeming irrelevant and somehow distant from young people. For example, ds1 has just turned 18, and didn't not intend to vote in the May elections, until I got mad and talked about how different it was in the not so distant past and how lucky he is to have a vote etc So my question is, how can political parties make politics more relevant to young people?

Another off topic question grin

One problem is people thinking politics doesn’t affect them, when of course it does. When I go to local schools I often ask “who is interested in politics?” and a few stray hands go up in the class. I then ask “who is interested in local bus services / climate change / minimum wage rates / sports facilities etc” and of course lots of hands go up, and I explain how politicians at different levels make decisions on all of these things. I don’t think there’s one silver bullet for connecting better with young people, but being accessible is part of it. There’s also a challenge in how long it can take to achieve change sometimes – we live in a very immediate society – you vote on X Factor and someone gets eliminated the next day, whereas with the best will in the world, many of the changes that can happen through our political system can’t be as immediate.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:20:52

DoItTooJulia

I think that this contributes to why women are put off a career in parliament.

I read this and I am horrified he has kept his job. How do you try to encourage women into a career when their colleagues behave like this and their boss minimises it?

Breaking the rules, I do have a second question.

What single measure could be taken to increase women in politics, in your opinion?

I cannot think what possessed him. As the PM has said - what he said was unacceptable. Some mumsnet users will recall Austin Mitchell MP used the word "rape" totally inappropriately in a twitter post recently. I would just say that Michael Fabricant doesn't have a Party/Ministerial role - his job is as an MP and clearly that job is a matter for his electorate.

To answer your second question I think it is important to have more female role models in politics - something I hope Jo, Gloria and I are.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:21:18

badooby

Hello - thank you for coming on.

PMQs embarrasses me. Does it embarrass you?

to be honest badooby it does, one person - it was a bloke actually - said it was like watching jeremy kyle with posh people. It's the worst possible advert for politics and the select committee system shows that it's possible to quiz ministers and get answers. i now prefer to ask written ministerial questions on behalf of constituents so Ministers can't dodge the question.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:23:44

nameequality

Jo/Gloria/Nicky - do you get much chance to get together as women in cross-party events?

I'm just thinking that if you all did it might be easier to push through things which would benefit all MPs and things which benefit all women - obviously things on which you can find a consensus! grin

Also do you think that the fact that there is such a low percentage of women MPs has contributed to FOR EXAMPLE wink the fact that mothers' names are STILL not recorded on marriage certificates in England & Wales??!!

There's a fair bit of this - for example there are various all-party groups that look at various issues affecting women. There is definitely a link between who is in Parliament and which issues get dealt with. Having been on maternity leave I'm not up-to-date with the internal discussions on the marriage certificates issue though I have followed the campaign on social media and in the press, and my understanding is that it is being looked at seriously in government. I was quite surprised when I read about it actually, having been married in Scotland where both parents' names are recorded.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:24:17

DoItTooJulia

I think that this contributes to why women are put off a career in parliament.

I read this and I am horrified he has kept his job. How do you try to encourage women into a career when their colleagues behave like this and their boss minimises it?

Breaking the rules, I do have a second question.

What single measure could be taken to increase women in politics, in your opinion?

Hi DoItTooJulia. You’re right, it’s completely appalling. I wrote to the Prime Minister about it saying a similar thing.

We’ll see what he says… And on your 2nd question. All Women Shortlists for all Parties! It’s worked for us. Before 1997 only 168 women had ever been elected to Parliament. In 1997 when we introduced them 101 Labour women were elected in one go. It’s electric shock treatment but it works! There are more men MPs today than there have EVER been women elected to parliament.

Going into schools to talk with youngsters sounds a very good and rewarding thing to do Nicky.
Jo and Gloria, do you both find and enjoy similar opportunities to encourage our young people to engage with politics?
My daughter is on our city's Youth Council BTW, and keen to speak up for things she feels need changing smile

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:25:44

charlieandlola

At least two of you are mothers to under 5's , am I right ? An MP seems incompatible with family life.?
My friends husband is an MP and they rarely have a weekend when he is home uninterrupted and then Sunday night to Thursday he is in London.
School holidays he is at home but often travels abroad and around the country. They had to fly back last summer from their only holiday week in France as MPs were summoned home.he has missed all his kids birthdays for the last 4 years. They get shouted at in the street and their eldest is being bullied at school because of his dad's job.
I expect his wife to leave him shortly as she feels utterly abandoned and tells me that he is a virtual stranger to her.

Is this a true representation or is she making it all up ?

It all sounds grim and if true then why would women put themselves through that, abandon their family to be shouted at on Newsnight, jeered in the chamber and abused in the street and online ?

Well, Jo's son is definitely under 5 and my son is now 6. I'm not sure if Mr Morgan is a mumsnetter - if he is he will have a view on this. I have to be honest - it can be a 24/7 job (especially if you are also a Minister) but it is an important job and that is why we need good people to do it - MPs can change things for their constituents, their constituencies and, if possible, at a national level. There are also lots of jobs where couples work different hours or shifts and it is also a question of sharing things as a couple and prioritising making time for family.

Frances5050 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:27:03

Thanks for your answer! smile) 30% women in House of Commons would be a start and might change the culture a bit. It would be 70 more women than we have now but still not fully representative. Neither would it be making the most of the nation's talents and experience, 50% of which are women's. How many MPs are fathers? Do you think it is good for MPs to be mothers?

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:27:58

TheStandard

This is one for Jo and Nicky really.

Labour has already made big strides with women's representation through all-women shortlists.

Do you (Jo and Nicky) personally agree with that as a way of increasing women's presence as MPs?

If not, what measures do you think should be taken? (Or do you not think anything should be done?)

What are your parties currently doing to increase the numbers of female MPs? Both LibDems and Tories have pretty lamentable records on this.

I think we need to understand the actual problem and then take steps to fix it. I’m not against all-women shortlists in principle – if there is sexism in the selection process stopping women becoming candidates in winnable seats then it is probably the only way to level the playing field. However when we did the research in the Lib Dems we found that women were just as likely as men to win contests for winnable seats that they applied for, our problem was we had 4 or 5 times as many men applying as women.

We’ve invested in projects like our Campaign for Gender Balance to encourage and support more women to become candidates, and we have a Leadership Programme which supports a group of 40 candidates from under-represented backgrounds (including BME which NK5BM3 also rightly mentioned) with an intensive programme of training, mentoring and resources. Of the 8 seats where we have MPs standing down next time, 5 have selected women candidates, without all-women shortlists.

Frances5050 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:28:48

Photo of mothers supporting 50:50 Parliament smile)

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:29:44

DoItTooJulia

I think that this contributes to why women are put off a career in parliament.

I read this and I am horrified he has kept his job. How do you try to encourage women into a career when their colleagues behave like this and their boss minimises it?

Breaking the rules, I do have a second question.

What single measure could be taken to increase women in politics, in your opinion?

I thought Yasmin’s article was really powerful and I was shocked at the tweet too – unacceptable, especially from an elected representative. But perhaps it is an example of why we absolutely need more women in public life.

There is a danger, I think, that focusing on the barriers and problems that women face in politics can put people off. It’s right that we look at how those issues can be overcome, but I also think we need to spend more time and energy making the case for why women will actually enjoy being involved in politics. It can be hugely rewarding – I think of individual constituents whose problem I’ve resolved, or the opportunities for young people I created through a Jobs Fair and initiatives with local businesses, or as a Minister changing the law so that mums and dads can share parental leave. For all the shouty PMQs coverage, actually many of the qualities and skills needed to be an MP are ones women have in spades: cooperation, empathy, influencing others.

So if you care about your community, about issues (do you shout at Question Time on the TV? Always a good indicator I reckon!), and want to help change things, why not get involved? Obviously I’d be delighted if you want to do so as a Lib Dem (www.libdems.org.uk/join) and I’m sure Tory, Labour and other party supporters would also get a warm welcome in those parties.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:30:22

nameequality

Jo/Gloria/Nicky - do you get much chance to get together as women in cross-party events?

I'm just thinking that if you all did it might be easier to push through things which would benefit all MPs and things which benefit all women - obviously things on which you can find a consensus! grin

Also do you think that the fact that there is such a low percentage of women MPs has contributed to FOR EXAMPLE wink the fact that mothers' names are STILL not recorded on marriage certificates in England & Wales??!!

Well, one of the things I discovered when I got here is that we have these All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) - and actually even in debates and committees MPs do work together especially on local issues. The APPGs allow cross party groups of MPs and members of the Lords to work on a whole variety of issues - for example before I became a Minister I was very involved in the Mental Health Group. And I think Gloria is a member of that one too. MPs on all sides did work together on the vote to change the sitting hours earlier in this Parliament (we now don't sit until 10pm on Tuesdays).

To answer your second point (and a few of you asked something similar) I am sure that if there were more women we'd have more of a female perspective on a whole host of issues. The marriage certificates issue is being looked at very seriously by Ministers.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:31:51

nameequality

Jo/Gloria/Nicky - do you get much chance to get together as women in cross-party events?

I'm just thinking that if you all did it might be easier to push through things which would benefit all MPs and things which benefit all women - obviously things on which you can find a consensus! grin

Also do you think that the fact that there is such a low percentage of women MPs has contributed to FOR EXAMPLE wink the fact that mothers' names are STILL not recorded on marriage certificates in England & Wales??!!

hi nameequality, on an issue like getting more women into politics we all agree we need more, but not on how, but it's important that where politicians do agree with each other, we say so.

on marriage certificates - unlike JoSwinsonMP i havent been on maternity leave, but im still confused about the Government's position. Here's a blog i wrote about why -

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:33:06

TheStandard

This is one for Jo and Nicky really.

Labour has already made big strides with women's representation through all-women shortlists.

Do you (Jo and Nicky) personally agree with that as a way of increasing women's presence as MPs?

If not, what measures do you think should be taken? (Or do you not think anything should be done?)

What are your parties currently doing to increase the numbers of female MPs? Both LibDems and Tories have pretty lamentable records on this.

Well, I think David Cameron's policy on having an "A" list of candidates before the 2010 election and introducing things such as gender blind CVs shows the Conservative Party is taking this very seriously. I do think the big issue is we just aren't getting enough women coming forward (which is an issue for all Parties) - we are seeing more women selected now in our seats. I think we need to see where we end up in 2015 and if we are still struggling to get more women MPs then no option is off the table.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:33:24

Frances5050

Thanks for your answer! smile) 30% women in House of Commons would be a start and might change the culture a bit. It would be 70 more women than we have now but still not fully representative. Neither would it be making the most of the nation's talents and experience, 50% of which are women's. How many MPs are fathers? Do you think it is good for MPs to be mothers?

I don't know how many MPs are fathers but anecdotally it's quite a lot. What I find really frustrating is that male MPs never seem to get asked about how they manage to balance their work and family lives. When I was pregnant I did get asked it a lot by journalists and I used to say that I'd be happy to answer it if they could tell me who the last male MP was that they asked that question to! Actually encouraging men to talk about their balancing acts too is helpful to other dads and dads-to-be, and gets away from the assumption that everything is the mother's responsibility.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:34:16

stillstandingatthebusstop

For Jo Swinson

The Liberal Democrat Party must have real problems being credible with women voters after the recent Lord Rennard scandal.

How can I vote for a party that does not react strongly when it's women activists are reported to be being sexually harassed?

There are really important issues here – both for politics and wider society. You might be interested in the speech I made to Lib Dem conference about these issues – you can watch part of it here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21721142 and the full transcript is available here: www.libdemvoice.org/jo-swinson-talks-directly-to-lib-dem-members-about-her-role-in-the-chris-rennard-allegations-33605.html

Nice post Jo about the need to talk more about why many women might enjoy becoming involved in politics - with some admirably subtle MN style stealth boasting thrown in for good measure about rewarding things you've been able to do as a politician grin

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:35:57

Darkesteyes

Slightly off topic but because decisions made in Parliament ,affect peoples lives all politicians should be made to undergo a psychological assessment prior to election.

Wow! That would be fascinating and quite scary! Definitely one for the Whips Office to perhaps use! On a serious note we had a whole variety of tests to get on the Conservative candidates list - however, I think the best test/assessment is getting out and talking to constituents.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:36:46

JugglingFromHereToThere

Going into schools to talk with youngsters sounds a very good and rewarding thing to do Nicky.
Jo and Gloria, do you both find and enjoy similar opportunities to encourage our young people to engage with politics?
My daughter is on our city's Youth Council BTW, and keen to speak up for things she feels need changing smile

Yes, one of my favourite parts of the job is going into schools and speaking with young people about politics - and far from apathy I often find a fair bit of enthusiasm for a wide range of issues. Too often politicians can take the view that young people don't matter until they are 18 and can vote - this is ridiculous. I take the view that I represent people whatever age they are and children are just as entitled to bring their concerns to me as adults. I think I was 10 when I first wrote to my MP...

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:38:40

Quivering

I'd be interested to hear what you think about jobshares for mps as a way to bring more women into politics? Or if you have any other suggestions yourselves?

I have been thinking about this - my initial instinct is that this wouldn't work because to do the job of an MP well you need to do both constituency and Westminster work. But then in my former life a solicitor I worked with two women who did a job share in a stressful corporate environment so maybe it would. I do think that, like any other work place flexible working, including job shares, should be considered. I do wonder what the electorate would make of having to vote for two people for one role?

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:40:33

Katn

I think some of the Hansard society stuff on possible reforms to PMQs sounds good. I actually like the fact the PM has to go to the House of Commons and account for his actions each week, it's the posing that goes with it that frustrates me.

I think quick-fire questions, and questions from the public sound like a great idea. What do you think?

hi Katn, i used to be a journalist and the first interviewing rule i learned was that no question should be more than 8 words. i reckon politicians could learn a lot from that one. a quick fire question is often a better way to put people on the spot than giving them ages to prepare the answer. i know the mumsnet survey found an appetite for 'sin bins' but my worry is it might just encourage some people to behave badly so how about recording MPs who've been reprimanded by the Speaker - might be something that Theyworkforyou can add because i reckon more of our constituents see that- i'm sure local papers would report it. The only people that MPs would be genuinely frightened of a 'telling off' from is their own constituents

Frances5050 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:41:07

My understanding is that the average age in the House of Commons is about 50, perhaps at that point in life both men's and women's parenting responsibilities become less demanding. Could this present the parties with an opportunity when it comes to attracting women into politics?

I know I've butted in to the discussion quite a bit already - perhaps I should go into politics grin - but as a follow up question to Jo's points ...

What do you all think of lowering the voting age to 16?

I think this would be a great idea to engage young people in politics whilst discussions on voting intentions could still be included within say citizenship studies in the Sixth form. My dd (aged 15) also thinks it would be a good idea and they've discussed it on the City Youth Council she's on.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:45:06

QothTheRaven

Hi to everyone,

MPs are paid about £60k (which does sound like a lot) but actually in London in particular, do you think that is that enough to attract the best candidates?

Well, I don't know anyone who has decided they want to be elected on the basis of pay - the point is that it is about 3 times the national average wage and I think as a country we have other things to spend our money on. However, I do think we need to be clearer about why MPs incur legitimate office expenses and for those of us who have constituencies more than 100 miles away from London why we can claim hotel room costs/rent. I also get really annoyed when my staff salaries are described as expenses - they aren't. They are salaries and they work extremely hard for them.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:45:54

Frances5050

My understanding is that the average age in the House of Commons is about 50, perhaps at that point in life both men's and women's parenting responsibilities become less demanding. Could this present the parties with an opportunity when it comes to attracting women into politics?

Good point. I am in favour of women of all ages having second careers - and politics can certainly be one of them!

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:45:57

AndHarry

I'd love to work towards standing as an MP but am totally put off by the crazy working hours. Do you think it would be a good idea to have more normal working hours and holidays?

Being an MP is undoubtedly more of a vocation than a job – if you didn’t feel really passionately about the people, issues and changes you are working for it would be pretty impossible I think given what it requires of you.

There have been moves towards more sensible hours when Parliament sits – for example last year Parliament brought its Tuesday sittings forward to 11:30am – 7pm (it used to be 2:30pm – 10pm), so now Monday is the only night when you’re still voting at 10:30pm (the late start on a Monday enables people to travel to London from around the country). The workload is still intense but at least that change has given a bit more flexibility – though there are certainly plenty of MPs who want to go back to the late night sittings.

Personally I don’t see why Parliament couldn’t start earlier in the day on a Tuesday or Wednesday and be a bit more in line with the usual working day. However the nature of the job means you have to live in 2 places (unless your constituency is close to London) so it’s always going to be a slightly odd working pattern.

Though the suggestion about jobshares by Quivering is an interesting one that could also be part of the solution to this issue. I think it’s an interesting idea that needs to be looked at more seriously for politics – perhaps with some kind of pilot.

The other thing we need to look at is the working hours in order to become an MP in the first place. Candidates are volunteers, so typically holding down another job at the same time. It’s right that candidates should spend time out and about speaking with the voters they want to represent, but we need to look at what parties can do better to support them so that all of the responsibility for the campaign doesn’t just fall on the candidate’s shoulders, and they have a good team around them.

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:46:44

JoSwinsonMP

JugglingFromHereToThere

Going into schools to talk with youngsters sounds a very good and rewarding thing to do Nicky.
Jo and Gloria, do you both find and enjoy similar opportunities to encourage our young people to engage with politics?
My daughter is on our city's Youth Council BTW, and keen to speak up for things she feels need changing smile

Yes, one of my favourite parts of the job is going into schools and speaking with young people about politics - and far from apathy I often find a fair bit of enthusiasm for a wide range of issues. Too often politicians can take the view that young people don't matter until they are 18 and can vote - this is ridiculous. I take the view that I represent people whatever age they are and children are just as entitled to bring their concerns to me as adults. I think I was 10 when I first wrote to my MP...

hi there, going into schools and listening to students is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. it's much more important to answer questions and listen rather than give a big speech. i once asked a group of 14/15 year olds from a school in my constituency to describe what an MP looked like and even though i was standing right in front of them - the first answer back was 'an old bald man'. And actually there are more bald men in the Cabinet than there are women! We have a way to go.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:49:02

JugglingFromHereToThere

I know I've butted in to the discussion quite a bit already - perhaps I should go into politics grin - but as a follow up question to Jo's points ...

What do you all think of lowering the voting age to 16?

I think this would be a great idea to engage young people in politics whilst discussions on voting intentions could still be included within say citizenship studies in the Sixth form. My dd (aged 15) also thinks it would be a good idea and they've discussed it on the City Youth Council she's on.

I agree with votes @16 and it is Lib Dem policy - sadly not something the current Coalition Government was able to agree on as our Conservative colleagues are not keen. I do believe it will happen at some point though. 16 and 17 year olds are voting in the independence referendum in Scotland in September.

plinkyplonks Tue 24-Jun-14 13:49:09

What plans do you or your parties have to improve the image of women in the media? It seems the focus of some media outlets is still very sexist - with articles focusing on what a woman is wearing, her attractiveness, her age, trying to label women as unstable, needy, bossy etc when they express a different point of view..

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:50:09

brandnewinformation

Hi Nicky, Jo and Gloria - what's the most sexist thing that's happened to you in Parliament?

One of the things I noticed about the survey was the 90% of mumsnetters believed the political culture in Westminster to be sexist. I have to say I have never encountered any issues at all - except once to be told that being an MP meant sometimes having to work long hours (when my husband was in London for a meeting and I was due home to take over childcare and suddenly the Commons was sitting late that night so I complained to the Chief Whip) - I told the MP in no uncertain terms that I knew all about long hours from my previous jobs - including being a Mum!

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:50:32

CarolineWheatley

Do you think that party politics incentivises politicians to act in the short-term interests of their own progress in the party and not in the long-term interests of the population as a whole?

What would you change (whether you agree or not with the above there must be something) to increase the incentives to act for the greater good in the long term?

Well one drawback of our democratic system is that elections every 5 years do encourage short-term thinking, even if it is motivated by the desire to do long-term good – in order to implement your long-term objectives you still need to win elections in the short-term. But as I think Churchill famously said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others which have been tried!

I think on many long-term issues like climate change, or pensions reform, you need to try to build cross-party consensus so that you can still make positive changes for the long-term even though the parties in government will change.

southwest1 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:51:11

Gloria, you said you prefer asking written questions than oral. Given that PMQs and all Departmental questions are made up of about 80% of questions drafted by SpAds isn't it time we stopped this and had proper oral question sessions where the questions aren't known in advance?

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:51:25

NickyMorganMP

Quivering

I'd be interested to hear what you think about jobshares for mps as a way to bring more women into politics? Or if you have any other suggestions yourselves?

I have been thinking about this - my initial instinct is that this wouldn't work because to do the job of an MP well you need to do both constituency and Westminster work. But then in my former life a solicitor I worked with two women who did a job share in a stressful corporate environment so maybe it would. I do think that, like any other work place flexible working, including job shares, should be considered. I do wonder what the electorate would make of having to vote for two people for one role?

actually NickyMorganMP is right - nothing should be ruled out. some businesses are doing great work on flexible working. Timewise have a part time power list which is worth a look at - for example Unilever have a job share for their Global Category Strategy Director. what do Mumsnetters think? would you consider being a job share MP and would you vote for a job share MP?

Strange if the tories were against it Jo (lowering voting age to 16)

It really seems a bit of a no-brainer to me, especially given the problem of the relatively low turnout at elections, particularly among the younger generation.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:52:25

WestmorlandSausage

my one question (although I have many!)

Which party do you think will be the next to have a female leader or female chancellor of the exchequer?

Very hard to tell although not sure it will be the Lib Dems (sorry Jo!) - but there are lots of good candidates on all sides of the House wink

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:52:44

JustOneCube

The stats in the MN miscarriage campaign were pretty shocking - as were lots of MNers' stories about the care they received - will you commit to a manifesto pledge to improve miscarriage care in next parliament please?

I agree, I saw that recently and thought having to wait for a scan for so long in those circumstances must be incredibly distressing. I'd be keen to find out more about why that is the case - is it policy / how care is organised / resources - and look at how we can then put some solutions in place.

plinkyplonks Tue 24-Jun-14 13:53:03

Just add to the above - it seems like women are held to a different standard in the media. Maybe that discourages women from entering politics because of the very public scrutiny they will receive not because of your policies and ideas but instead criticisms about you appearance, age, family life, mental state etc.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:53:45

orangeone

1. PMQ - really what's the point? A bunch of children booing and jeering at each other in a way that I spend most of my day encouraging my pre-schooler not to do?

2. Do you think that politicians should have limited terms in office? This reduces 'career politicians', ensures that they have to do a 'normal job' at some point so can represent the general population better, and may specifically open the doors to more women (perhaps being more family friendly as to serve in parliament becomes something you do for a limited time so can cope with crazy hours?

I quite agree on PMQs, as per my reply to badooby above. I’m not sure about limited terms – it can reduce a politician’s effectiveness in their final term as we often see with US Presidents.

The average time someone serves as an MP is only about 9 years, so even though there are a few who serve for a long time, there is quite a turnover of MPs at each election. It can be useful to have some people there who have longer experience in Parliament itself, as well as others who bring a fresh pair of eyes to problems.

Frances5050 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:55:46

Thank you so much for the webchat Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Gloria De Piero and Mumsnet!

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:56:01

JustOneCube

The stats in the MN miscarriage campaign were pretty shocking - as were lots of MNers' stories about the care they received - will you commit to a manifesto pledge to improve miscarriage care in next parliament please?

hi JustOneCube, we all know someone who's had a miscarriage and the emotional and sometimes physical agony that comes with that. Mumsnet have done a done a lot to raise this issue with politicians and i'm glad that andy burnham will be talking to mumsnetters tomorrow on what we can do to make sure women get the treatment and care they need

Darkesteyes Tue 24-Jun-14 13:56:03

The reason I mentioned psychological assessments was because some of the current policies (IDS springs to mind) strike me as sociopathic.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:56:55

woeface

Can I ask all of you what you think of the Rebekah Brooks/Andy Coulson phone-hacking verdict?

Should we be worried about the 'cosy' relationship between political parties and some sections of the media? And what needs to be done to make sure that only those whose probity is unimpeachable get close to power in the future?

Well, the PM has made a full apology for employing Andy Coulson and I think he previously said that at times the relationship did get too close. I think it is incumbent on all of us in elected office to uphold the highest standards at all times.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:57:46

NickyMorganMP

WestmorlandSausage

my one question (although I have many!)

Which party do you think will be the next to have a female leader or female chancellor of the exchequer?

Very hard to tell although not sure it will be the Lib Dems (sorry Jo!) - but there are lots of good candidates on all sides of the House wink

You may be right Nicky...
My guess is probably Labour (Yvette Cooper). Though Nicky is a Treasury Minister… who knows what the PM has in store for her?

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:58:25

Peacocklady

I would like to ask each of you whether you have faith in your party leaders.
When they were all photographed holding the Sun newspaper and smiling it seemed that their main priority is getting votes. Why did they do that?
Where is their conviction? Who is going to stand up for a creative education? Who is going to speak up for the poor?

I do. I think Nick is doing a difficult job incredibly well. He has absolutely championed the importance of education as a route out of poverty – he has made sure that the Government is investing billions extra in the Pupil Premium which channels extra money to schools with the poorest pupils, and now extending that to nursery education too.

NickyMorganMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:58:58

Dear mumsnetters - I am signing off now as I have to go and do a quick video for MN Towers and then back to meet a delegation of women MPs from Sudan. Thank you for all the questions - am looking forward to having more time to read the posts and will reply on the miscarriage question too.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 13:59:43

charlieandlola

At least two of you are mothers to under 5's , am I right ? An MP seems incompatible with family life.?
My friends husband is an MP and they rarely have a weekend when he is home uninterrupted and then Sunday night to Thursday he is in London.
School holidays he is at home but often travels abroad and around the country. They had to fly back last summer from their only holiday week in France as MPs were summoned home.he has missed all his kids birthdays for the last 4 years. They get shouted at in the street and their eldest is being bullied at school because of his dad's job.
I expect his wife to leave him shortly as she feels utterly abandoned and tells me that he is a virtual stranger to her.

Is this a true representation or is she making it all up ?

It all sounds grim and if true then why would women put themselves through that, abandon their family to be shouted at on Newsnight, jeered in the chamber and abused in the street and online ?

I’m really sorry to hear about your friend and especially her child being bullied – that’s really horrible and whatever people think of MPs, their family are not fair game. Obviously I don’t know about that specific situation, but there are certainly elements I recognise from my own experience.

As an MP I don’t tend to get weekends off, and representing an area just north of Glasgow it does mean a lot of travel (and I now have the joys of doing that with a baby in tow… though now that I have had the flight from hell with a 1.5 hour delay on the tarmac and an inconsolable baby I’m hoping it can’t get worse than that!)

As to whether it is incompatible with family life, part of me wants to say ask me in a few months’ time, as I return to my Ministerial duties this coming Monday following 6 months of maternity leave. But I refuse to accept that it is incompatible – we just can’t have a Parliament that is supposed to represent the public and understand the challenges people face, and then make it impossible for MPs with young children to do the job. I don’t pretend to have all the answers about how to make it work, but I’m determined to find them! Wish me luck…

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 14:00:05

plinkyplonks

What plans do you or your parties have to improve the image of women in the media? It seems the focus of some media outlets is still very sexist - with articles focusing on what a woman is wearing, her attractiveness, her age, trying to label women as unstable, needy, bossy etc when they express a different point of view..

hi plinkyplonks, i think you're right and i think this can put many women off coming into politics. i asked Yougov to do some polling for me on why people didnt want to become MPs. over a third of women said 'because of the press going through my private life and past'

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 14:00:40

MrsRTea

My question is to Gloria: Can I have an owl?

And is there any chance of an Eagle?

I was very glad that was a hoax tweet by Labour’s press office. My niece (nearly 4) is a big fan of owls. She has even made up her own owl song involving them doing star-jumps - I don’t want her cheering on my main opponent in East Dunbartonshire thinking that she’d get an owl..

Hooray! - a mention for nursery education, thanks Jo thanks

The early years are so important as a foundation for life learning, for support for families, and in their own right smile

Save our Children's Centres too - they are much needed

GloriaDePieroMP Tue 24-Jun-14 14:03:41

thanks mumsnetters for your points and questions. i could easily have spent another hour doing it but my time is up. sorry if i haven't answered your question but i promise to look back over all the thread later. remember if you have thoughts on how we should change how parliament works email me on gloria.depiero.mp@parliament.uk with mumsnet in the subject heading and i promise to forward your ideas to the Speaker.

JoSwinsonMP Tue 24-Jun-14 14:03:54

Thanks very much for all your questions and comments - really enjoyable as ever. And also thanks for the wonderful resource that is Mumsnet over the past few months - it has been a superb place to go for advice on everything from nappy rash to the BabyBjorn or ergobaby decision!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 14:06:30

Thanks everyone for the great questions and especially to Nicky, Gloria and Jo for taking the trouble and for some terrific answers.

Thanks all thanks

Justine and Rowan, what's it been like spending the day in Westminster?
Did they look after you?

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 16:39:55

JugglingFromHereToThere

Thanks all thanks

Justine and Rowan, what's it been like spending the day in Westminster?
Did they look after you?

I was with Nicky's office and they were lovely grin

And on a personal note (in answer to Gloria's question) as someone who's job-shared for years (first with the glorious KateMumsnet and now with the resplendent RebeccaMumsnet) I'd very happily vote for a job-share MP wink

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 24-Jun-14 17:19:45

Just got back and read this. Thanks for answering my questions.

Excellent webchat HQ.

DoItTooJulia Tue 24-Jun-14 18:51:13

I've just got in from work.

Thank you to each of you for answering my questions.

Really interesting webchat.

Quivering Tue 24-Jun-14 19:35:35

Chuffed to have had my question answered - thank you for the great webchat.

Yes I'd vote for a job share MP and if I were ever to stand, jobsharing is likely to work very well for me.

wonderstuff Tue 24-Jun-14 21:15:25

I think MP job share is a fantastic idea, I would vote for it. I would love to run for parliament, the crazy hours put me off.

JoSwinson Sun 29-Jun-14 22:55:52

[quote JoSwinsonMP] representing an area just north of Glasgow it does mean a lot of travel (and I now have the joys of doing that with a baby in tow? though now that I have had the flight from hell with a 1.5 hour delay on the tarmac and an inconsolable baby I?m hoping it can?t get worse than that!)

And I thought it couldn't get worse than that...

Well my journey home to the constituency on Thursday beat that: 90 minutes stuck in a hot lift between floors before we even got to the airport, which of course meant we missed the flight...

Thank goodness my DH was there too, and DS was on pretty good form and not screaming his head off!

VikkiMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Jul-14 18:10:23

You can catch up with our video interviews with Jo, Gloria and Nicky on our YouTube channel - like this one, where we asked what they'd change to get more women into politics.

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