Women peers and leadership

Lord Norton

The House appoints tomorrow the members of four ad hoc committees established for this session  – on the Equality Act 2010 (looking at the impact on people with disabilities), Sexual Violence in Conflict, Social Mobility, and the Built Environment.  What is notable is that each is being chaired by a female peer – Baroness Deech (cross-bencher), Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (Lib Dem), Baroness Corston (Lab) and Baroness O’Cathain (Con) respectively.  The first three also have a majority of women peers as members.

The House has been notable for the leadership positions held by women peers.  Both elected Lord Speakers have been female, five of the past eight Leaders of the House have been female, and one woman peer has just succeeded another as Leader of the Opposition.  We thus now have the three leadership positions of Lord Speaker, Leader of the House, and Leader of the Opposition held by women.  Although the result of the general election has meant the proportion of women members is greater in the Commons than in the Lords, the Commons has yet to match the Lords in terms of the combination of leadership positions held by women.

3 comments for “Women peers and leadership

  1. maude elwes
    11/06/2015 at 4:18 am

    Oh, what lucky girls they are. Three cheers for political correctness and the EU.

    As a sidebar, the Wilson government, a Labour effort that was decidedly not a fake pretender to the Conservatives, was the beginning of the ‘way ahead’ for women.

    Here is a good summing up of what a ‘Labour’ government does when it is for those who vote for it. I saw this in the Guardian this morning and felt it was so good the Lords should have access to it. It was a reply to the, ever searching for office, Blair, who should have been leader of the Tories, or better still, a Republican hiding as a Democrat. In other words, a wolf salvating in sheeps clothing.


    ‘If you retreat into your comfort zone, you lose — that’s the lesson of 100 years of our history.’

    Tell you what, Mr Blair, let’s try comparing what, say the Wilson governments from 1964-70 achieved from that old-fashioned comfort zone position with what your governments achieved in twice as long, shall we?

    Try jotting down a list of what they did against a list of what you did and try to figure out which things posterity will look back at. Here are just a few of my highlights:

    * avoided any British commitment to Vietnam War
    * first time in history education budget was larger than defence
    * abolition of capital punishment
    * established the Open University
    * 2 million new homes built (the most ever in any 5 year period), reduced housing costs for buyers on low incomes so poorer people could become owner occupiers
    * highest ever level of _private_ sector home completions
    * major expansion of higher education, both university and non-university sector (e.g 30 polytechnics created)
    * doubled student participation rates, massive increase in entry of women into university education
    * liberalisation of abortion law
    * spending on hospital construction doubled.
    * raised proportion of GNP spent on the NHS from 4.2% to 5%
    * first legislation in the world to recognise and give rights to disabled people
    * racial discrimination made a legal offence, Race Relations Acts
    * decriminalisation of homosexuality
    * reduced fifty-year rule for access to public records to 30 years
    * kept unemployment below 2.7%
    * Equal Pay Act
    * Divorce Reform Act
    * abolished corporal punishment in borstals and prisons
    * abolition of theatre censorship
    * highest level of road building by any post-war government
    * regulated exposure to asbestos
    * set up free family planning advice though local authorities

    All this while a million of the lowest paid were taken out of income tax, pensions were raised to record levels, and the massive balance of payments deficit inherited from the Tories pre-election tax give-aways was returned to surplus. In it’s final year, this government ran a budget surplus of 1.8%

    Those are the kind of policies I would expect to find in a worthwhile Labour party’s “comfort zone”. Why not have the courage and determination to explain to the electorate why these things are valuable, and put in the hard work required to earn their consent? It takes years and persistence in the face of rejection, and is a lot harder than just coasting on the work that previous generations have put in to win public support for social justice and chasing the floating undecideds, but if you can’t be bothered to make the case then just go away.


  2. 11/06/2015 at 4:33 am

    Lord Norton,

    Of course it has been the Queen’s Speech delivered in that chamber for quite some time. Some might say that the continuous modeling of this kind of behaviour at the central event of the year is likely to have an effect on any body or council regardless of how sophisticated and self aware such a body may be…

  3. MilesJSD
    11/06/2015 at 12:14 pm

    Do not conflate “leadership” with “management, directorate, and command”.

    Any-one wanting to be called a “leader of lifeplace-people has to be easily-possible, and long-term worthy, in both their capital and income-expenditure accounts, to be emulated by ordinarily honest low-income people.

    The lifeplace leader must be long-term living and transparently showing to all woujd be and inescapable followers, how to live off the lowest-income of all those followers.

    In short, copy the leader’s lifestyle and you will be better off, be making your income constructively do more both for you and for your greater cooperative community.

    In workplace directorate and management positions you become much more of a commander than an exemplary-leader.
    it is the on-the-ground fact, that few if any such sustainworthily emulable lifeplace and lifestyle leaders are visible; in fact they are effectively 99% absent, the odd one here and there not even being recognised as an emulable lifestyle leader, nor themselves recognising that that is what they can and need to be.

    That is why you now need to distinguish very clearly between “command-leaderships” in Workplaces
    Lifestyle Emulable Leaderships in all Lifeplaces.

Comments are closed.