Sunday, May 11, 2008


inter-linked male and female symbolsHave you noticed that forms now ask for your “gender” rather than your “sex”?
And words like Headmistress, Manageress, Waitress, Barmaid, etc. etc. have largely disappeared from the English language. We still have Princess though, and at least in Redbridge, female Chairman of various committees.

Anyway, I am reading this piece on the BBC on “Gender” equality in politics comparing Italy with Spain. Now, I am not at all receptive to positive discrimination. I would not wish to gain a position simply because I am Ginger and have freckles rather than on merit. Mind you, I could bring a refreshing and different attitude to the “summer” and “heat” that others may not appreciate, except for Gary Monro that is.

Women, of course, also have a refreshing and different attitude to a whole range of issues. And it’s not just the colour of the curtains and the precise arrangement of the cushions, important though these things are. So, I thought, what is the balance here in Redbridge?

Overall we have 27% female councillors. The Conservative Group is 23.53%, Labour 38.89% and the LibDems 25%. The BNP is 0% unless the one councillor is not telling us something! Now, the Redbridge [Conservative] cabinet is only 10%. However, subject to next week’s Full Council [and there being no unofficial meetings in the car park] this figure is set to double. Cllr O’Shea is on the way out and Cllr Vanessa Cole is on the way in taking on Community Safety. Having a woman in this role is, I think, a positive move and I can’t think of anyone more able than Vanessa.

Other changes, subject to the vote, are that the poison challises of Leisure and Regeneration move on. Leisure, including allotments, passes from Cllr Barden to Cllr Aaron, and Regeneration passes from Cllr Prince to Cllr Goody. The option of a “woman’s” touch seems to have been passed over by the Leader.

Now, introspection. I had not noticed this until I wrote this post. The Barkingside 21 committee is exactly 50% female and has been so for quite a while. I rather think that when these things are not noticed until after the event, or engineered through statistical analysis, that something significant has happened.


  1. I am really interested that Cllr Mrs Vanessa Cole is going to be on the Cabinet. She is a strong woman with strong opinions and I cannot imagine she is 'silenceable'.
    Now, B21, I shall refrain from commenting about what you thing is 'a liberal attitude'to women in your valuable organisation because it would be only my personal perception, but regarding to statistics, how many councillors from area 4 are in the cabinet?
    What horrendous percentage that will mean? Any other area is under-represented and that is a scandal.

  2. Now, Ann, not all Area Committees have Conservative representation so it would be unreasonable to expect them to be included. That’s the way the system works. So, percentages don’t mean much.

    However, this is the situation as of next week, should it come to fruition: [Cabinet members to Conservative members]

    Area 1: 2 from 6
    Area 2: 3 from 6
    Area 3: 0 from 8
    Area 4: 4 from 9
    Area 5: 0 from 0
    Area 6: 1 from 2
    Area 7: 0 from 3

    Read into that what you will.

  3. Well B21, I am impressed because I had not looked at it in such an analytical way. What jumps at me is this 'special case' Area 3, of course, which is an area I know.
    And Area 7, next door, must be feeling a bit unloved too!
    Thank you for responding in such a vivid way.

  4. 1. Suspect you mean 'chalices'.

    2. Cllr Cole is a great asset, and should not have been demoted from the Cabinet.

    3. Would like to say more, but it would be censored.

  5. Anne,
    I have been called many things, but never before, to my knowledge, “Vivid”. Are you sure you didn’t mean “Livid”?

    Thanks for the spelling lesson. Not my speciality, don’t know how it passed spellcheck? As for being censored here, I would still know, so please feel free.

  6. vivid: brilliant, like a star!
    Now, B21, you have just had a vocab lesson from a flattering foreigner!
    I do write the wrong word more than occasionally (thing, instead of think, recently) and I am mortified when I realise. However, I appreciate that you are broadminded about it and ignore it.

  7. If you want to consider sexism in Redbridge, look at the wages of library assistants. They are the only group of Redbridge employees still on Scale 1. Every other job in the borough starts at Scale 3.

    Why? Traditionally library assistants were housewives looking for some pin money on the side. They were prepared to accept low wages if working conditions were okay. Many were and still are educated women: graduates, ex-teachers. Running a family takes precedence over a career.

    How many graduates would you insult with a salary of about £14,000 per annum, £7,000 for part-timers?

    And working in a library is no longer a cosy job. Research last year found that librarians suffer more stress than police officers, teachers or firefighters!

    So, forget the gender of councillors. So long as library assistants are undervalued and insulted with the lowest pay scale in the borough, Redbridge remains an extremely ignorant and sexist place.

  8. Oh do go on, Coxsoft, explain in what way library assistants are more stressed than the police, teachers or firefighters: you're 'avin a larf.

    As a very frequent library user for more than 5 decades, I have never seen even a fully qualified librarian deal with an armed robber ("gimme three Agatha Christies or The Lord of the Rings gets it!), or dangerous chemical fires (Bonfire of the Vanities is only a novel, after all).

    As for deserving more because they may be graduates, presumably you would argue the same were some of our dustmen PhD's? Yup, Fred gets paid twice as much to empty a bin as John, because Fred once wrote a good thesis about the decline of the Byzantine Empire and its effect on Eastern Anatolia.

    A job is worth what an employer is prepared or able to pay for it, same as a house or a piece of jewellery.

  9. Judith for Home Secretary or, even better, Prime Minister!
    There would be no need for a revolution, then!

  10. Chere Anne

    Vous etes trop gentille! Merci beaucoup. (Peux-je vous tu-toyer?)

    When I am Home Secretary, you may be my Chef du Cabinet.


  11. I would be delighted to be tutoyee by you Judith. Another sign of your excellent education is that you should ask!

  12. Anne,

    As a Conservative member of Area 7 I thank you for your concern but none of us are actually aggrieved at not being cabinet members. One of us is a Scrutiny Vice-Chairman and two of us are Scrutiny chairmen so we do feel valued!

    I like Judith's sense of humour - and I must say that even if there are pressures on librarians that the public don't always see I cannot imagine their job is more stressful than a teacher's...

  13. I hear what Cllr Monro is saying, (who would want to be passed the poisoned chalice?),but, thinking that, geographically, a small area of the borough is ruling a much larger one seems a bit odd and also the fact that some councillors of the Cabinet seem to be such close friends.
    I, too, belong to the 'Judith admiration society'. (And, if I saw her, I would not recognize her!)

  14. Ma chere Anne

    I am 5'9" tall, size 10, long blonde hair, age 31, and radiantly beautiful ........

    in my dreams.

  15. ....and mine!

  16. Tongue in cheek: I thought this blog was about de-sexification and, what, of all people, is Judith doing?


    Linda Huggett (Deputy Leader) from Resources to Leisure (etc), Thomas Chan from Housing & Health to Resources, Keith Prince from Planning & Regeneration to Housing & Health (his third portfolio in as many years), Peter Goody from Highways & Cleansing to Planning & Regeneration, Ronnie Barden from Leisure (etc) to Budget & Performance, Mark Aaron from Public Safety to Highways & Cleansing.

    Clearly the policy is not to allow too much time for cabinet members to become involved with their portfolios before moving them on! Or perhaps it's "don't let the public have continuity". The Leader, however, stays put...........together with Michael Stark (Children's Services), and John Fairley-Churchill (Adult Social Services).

  18. Perhaps they just pick their role out of a hat?