Monday, 7 June 2010

Sisterly row as Goldsworthy says Harman only acting leader after “kicking around” Labour party for years

Former Liberal Democrat MP Julia Goldsworthy has stepped into the debate on the dearth of women in coalition top jobs.

She was the subject/victim of the Saturday Interview in the Western Morning News (right), and warned it is “unacceptable” that her party now has fewer women MPs than before the election.

The new coalition government attracted criticism for only having three women in the Cabinet – all of them Conservative.

But in an apparent swipe at those who were over-looked, Julia said: “I think it’s a problem for all parties and I don’t think that with the options that they had before them I don’t think David Cameron and Nick Clegg could have done anything different really than what they have got.”

I think that’s called making the best of a bad job.

She also had some very un-sisterly comments to make about acting Labour leader Harriet Harman.

“If you look at the way the Labour party works, Harriet Harman is basically somebody who has been kicking around the Labour party and those organisations for a really long time and there probably aren’t that many women who have had that kind of experience.”

She blamed the “career break” that women have when having children for damaging the personal and professional relationships which help to get ahead in politics.

The 31-year-old, who lost the Camborne and Redruth seat by just 66 votes, said women MPs in fall into two categories – those “at the pre-child bearing phase… and then another lump at the other end whose children are a bit older and there’s not really anything in the middle”.

“I have changed my mind on all women shortlists because I think there’s a real danger that we will go backwards if we don’t do something. I wasn’t selected on an all-woman shortlist and for me that was really important because I wanted to be the best candidate.

“But the Lib Dems now have fewer women MPs than they did in 2005 and that’s not acceptable nothing should be rule out.”

The Lib Dems fielded women in three of the six seats in Cornwall at the election – and all were defeated by Tories.

The comments have provoked a bit of a spat with Julia’s Labour opponent in the election, Jude Robinson. (right)

She said on Twitter:
If you are as disgusted as I am at @jgoldsworthy 's bitchiness to Harriet Harman, here please register and comment.
Then later:
If @jgoldsworthy really concerned about women in politics, why so bitchy about @harrietharman?
Julia responded:

I have plenty of time for Harman - but far more men than women work their way through the pol/party machines - she's unusual
Provoking Jude:
Then an acknowledgment would have been appropriate, not dismissive comment

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