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All the podcast interviews on the women in Parliament websites and are copyright protected under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright belongs to Boni Sones OBE.

History of our broadcasting January 2019

Boni Sones

All the interviews we have conducted as a team over 15 years are now housed in one of three national audio archives at the British Library, The LSE and now the History of Parliament Trust too.

Our latest national audio archive at the History of Parliament Trust houses all our podcast interviews from May 2014 to July 2018. Thanks to Dr Paul Seward the Director.

Our fourth book on women MPs charting our 70 plus interviews in #Vote100 year was published in February 2019. These include all our #Vote100 documentaries. You can read more about it on our books page.

It follows on from our Third book: "When There's A Woman in The Room - Part 2" which was first published in April 2017 and updated in March 2018.

All our previous books can be found in the National Libraries of Britain: The British Library, the Bodleian Library Oxford University, The Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and Trinity College Dublin.

Thanks to the team and our journalists Jackie Ashley, Deborah McGurran, and Linda Fairbrother. And thanks to our long standing Advisory Board of MPs, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, Conservative, Jo Swinson MP, LD; Dr Lisa Cameron SNP and Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour. And to Rich our web manager.

You can read our February 2019 report to our Advisory Board here.

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March 14th 2019

Thangam Debbonaire MP

Shadow Whip Thangam Debbonaire MP on Parliament's #Brexit chaos

Thangam Debbonaire the Labour MP for Bristol West, is a shadow whip for her party with a special interest in DEFRA, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs. She knows full well how difficult it is to keep party unity in difficult circumstances and how complex #Brexit is particularly when it comes to this week's newly published government advice on the imposition of tariffs post Brexit if there was no-deal.

In an historic week for parliament Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement suffered another defeat this time by 149 votes, and a day later MPs across party voted to rule out no-deal, by a majority of 43. In all 13 government and cabinet ministers abstained on that vote in effect defying their own Prime Minister and whip while one minister resigned and voted for it.

However on another vote a little later on the so-called Malthouse amendment, which was defeated, they were allowed a free vote. The next day they were again allowed another free vote this time on whether to extend Article 50 and defer leaving the EU on March 29th 2019.

So will May put her Agreement to a third vote and win given that Brexiteer MPs may fear losing Brexit altogether now?

They also discuss the new TIG of break-away MPs, eight of whom were Labour, tariffs post Brexit, Hammond's new money for Leave Towns, how she's campaigning for more education funding for schools and why she's not sure another General Election is yet on the cards even though Labour is pushing for one.

She said Article 50 would have to be extended and that in that time there should be another referendum.

She went on to say that she was "desperately sad" about her eight former labour MP colleagues who have formed the new Independent Group as they had broken away "from a family" and that families were "stronger together".

Debbonaire key quote:

"The Free vote is very telling. A Prime Minister has decided to give a free vote on a matter that is not a matter of conscience it is a matter of major government policy that shows that she has lost control of her own government. She is doing that in order to avoid resignations from her own Cabinet; that in my view is really dangerous and really worrying. It shows that this is a Prime Minister who has completely lost control not just of parliament but of her own government."

"Labour MPs are focused on fighting this government not just on Brexit, but on the under-funding of schools, and we are focusing on absolutely everything our constituents bring to us even if there are disagreements, like every party does. This is deadly serious and worrying, we are dedicating ourselves to the very hard task of #Brexit."

March 7th 2019

Heidi Allen MP and Ann Coffey MP

International Women's Day 2019

Our guest interviewer Journalist Jackie Ashley picks up some scoops for us on #IWD2019 in the latest of our podcasts from parliament.

Heidi Allen MP and Ann Coffey MP on why women voters should be attracted to their new Independent Group

Crossing the floor of the House has always been a difficult thing for an MP to do, and in the past they have received much criticism for doing so and for "defecting" from one party to another.

Two weeks ago a new political group - not a party yet - was formed in parliament when 8 Labour MPs and 3 Conservative MPs crossed the floor of the House to sit together as The Independent Group or as they are now known the "TIGS".

They all support Remain in the Brexit debates and they are all in favour of a Second Referendum or People's Vote on the issue.

Whether or not others will join them remains to be seen. But as 7 of the 11 are women, Journalist Jackie Ashley was keen to meet up and talk to them about their appeal to women voters who might find their "nicer way" of doing politics attractive.

Neither said they would be standing down to re-fight their respective seats immediately but that they did want to stand again for the same constituencies. Both said the decision to leave their parties had led to sleepless nights, but that having searched their souls and made the break they were now happier. Coffey had taken a year to make her decision and Allen said she had never really post Brexit felt "at home" in the Conservative party and that she had now gained 25,000 extra twitter followers in three weeks.

Allen said she had had 2,500 positive emails from constituents and 41 unhappy ones, and that her constituents seemed to be behind her. She would be holding meetings across her constituency to discuss her decision.

Coffey said she had not received adverse reaction from her Labour colleagues and that people had been "nice". But that allegations of antisemitism in Labour and the way her colleague Luciana Berger had been treated had been a factor. "We have to be there supporting our Jewish colleagues".

Allen said government changes to welfare and the introduction of Universal Credit which she had campaigned on was a factor in her leaving the Conservatives. "If you aren't on IT you can't claim benefits".

Allen who was elected as the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire in 2015 said: "It's not so much about being female, but about being friendly and optimistic. Just the thought of working in a go-getting can do team, people want to be part of that. Collaboration is better in all walks of life and people seem to respond to that and want to be part of it."

Coffey who was elected as the Labour MP for Stockport in 1992 said: "We're trying to demonstrate that there is honesty and integrity in politics and I think it is brilliant that we are made up of members of two parties Labour and Conservative, so that we can discuss our differences."

Allen emphasised that any new members of the Group have to "start again and join afresh" and couldn't belong to any other party.

Coffey said Brexit and antisemitism in Labour would, she thought, lead to "more people coming over to us in time".

Coffey, who has worked on the county lines drug crimes said on knife crime, the TIG policy would be to investigate what can be achieved in communities and how to get there across a number of policy areas. "It is a symptom of something that is much deeper, we have to go out and engage with communities to find out what works for them."

Allen said they were "enjoying this moment" and that she felt "unleashed" and that the sense of "optimism" TIGs had was "infectious".

Allen said they would be touring communities all over the UK speaking on different topics as part of the TIG "Change Politics" talks.

Both ended by saying they had no idea what "colour" rosette they would be wearing at the next General Election but they were open to suggestions.

#IWD2019 Rachel Reeves MP "Women of Westminster - The MPs Who Changed Politics"

Heidi Allen MP and Ann Coffey MP

In Speaker's House today the Labour MP Rachel Reeves launched another of her books on women in British politics.

In this exclusive interview journalist Jackie Ashley asks Rachel to say why she felt so passionately about writing about the lives of other women MPs who had gone before her.

Reeves said writing her first book "Alice in Westminster - the life of Alice Bacon" who won her Leeds North East seat, the first woman to do so, in the 1945 General Election had given her much food for thought and she wanted to explore what other women MPs that we know so little about had achieved.

Reeves managed to pick up an interview with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Mother of the House Labour's Harriet Harman. She also tells us who her own "favourites" are.

Reeves is also an economist and has served Leeds West since 2010. She was made shadow secretary of state for work and pensions in 2013 but after Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader in 2015, she did not return to the role following her maternity leave.

"It is a bit of a club being in Westminster and women haven't always fitted in," she told Jackie.

She explained that progress has been made: "The fact that we have 209 women in Westminster now and 100 years ago we didn't have any is progress. We still need to make progress and we are still a long way from having a #5050 parliament but people would be amazed to see the progress that has been made. Women do suffer abuse and my colleague Jo Cox was murdered. Black women and Jewish women are particularly targeted like Diane Abbott and Luciana Berger, and it may make women say "it's not for me". I hope we can find better ways to conduct ourselves in parliament and in public forums and on line."

Reeves said her book embraced all parties: "From Nancy Astor to Ellen Wilkinson, Barbara Castle to Margaret Thatcher and from Harriet Harman to Theresa May - the women who entered parliament since 1919 have changed politics and our country. From how they collaborated to bring in family allowances, equal pay and free childcare, to how they were praised and damned by the press; and how individually and collectively they've changed our perceptions of politics and power this book is a chronicle, a celebration and an analysis of the women in the House of the Commons - the first 100 years."

She said her favourite story was of Eleanor Rathbone an Independent MP, who worked across the political spectrum who got the first family allowances paid directly to women. "The way she did politics working across the political divide was an inspiration to us all today."

March 6th 2019

Emma Lewell-Buck MP

Baroness Susan Kramer #Brexit & Food Standards

Baroness Susan Kramer is the LD spokesperson on Treasury and the Economy and has for some time expressed her concerns about the standards of food production falling when the UK leaves the EU and begins to import more produce from America.

Today the Soil Association published a report expressing its fears over chlorine washed chicken, hormones, antibiotics, food colourings, pesticides and animal welfare more generally. Critics say the USA has food standards that are not as good as the EU's and are stuck in a "museum of agriculture" while others call such scare stories a "smear campaign".

A former DEFRA Minister, George Eustace, a leading Brexiteer, has also written of his concerns over food standards and says reducing standards would give "free-trade a bad name". But the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, also a Brexiteer has given assurances that food standards will be the same if not better when the UK does Brexit on the 29th March 2019 this year.

In this special podcast Baroness Kramer first sets out what she thinks the important issues are on food standards, she then says why she and her party are against a no-deal Brexit, and how politics is changing from a voting system based on class to a new one based on nationalism or globalism and how the new Independent Group of 11 Labour and Conservative MPs are a sign of the times.

Kramer said: "In the UK we care very deeply about things like animal welfare, but in the States it is an economics issue. There is so much bacteria on the chicken when they are slaughtered in America that they have to be washed in chlorine. The same with hormones and pesticides. America has always had a cheap food culture. Organic food in the states is incredibly costly."

She then expressed concern about "no-deal" Brexit and in particular what will happen in the financial services market. She also said there would be long hold-ups at Dover in a no-deal Brexit.

On the TIGs she said: "We have been very friendly with the TIGs, and I hope people will work together but we don't know where it is going, but what is interesting is that times have changed in terms of how people vote now. Brexit has changed that. We are in a different era and the old politics finds it very, very hard, the old binary left and right system no longer applies and my party is very happy with this. We have always based ourselves around a set of values."

Kramer ends by saying that the Brexiteers had been "shocked" by the sense of identity and commitment on the Remain side and that the issue would not go away. "It is going to be a very giddy roller coaster ride".

February 27th 2019

Emma Lewell-Buck MP

What gets measured gets mended: Emma Lewell-Buck MP & her Food Insecurity Bill

And Sex and Relationship Education in Schools, Labour & Antisemitism and a #Brexit Second Referendum

Emma Lewell-Buck the Labour MP for South Shields and the Shadow Minister for Education, Children and Families is this week celebrating getting her Food Insecurity Bill accepted by the government.

The adoption of the Bill's recommendations will mean that for the first time a government department, the Department for Work and Pensions, will measure through a questionnaire the extent of food poverty in the United Kingdom. It follows a critical UN report on the issue and the publication of other evidence by charities such as the Food Foundation which together suggest 8 million households and 4 million children live in food poverty. The US and Canada already collect food insecurity data.

Although Lewell-Buck's Bill won't become law the government has said that it will be adopting its recommendations and collecting and publishing information on food insecurity. It had originally rejected the findings of the 2017 United Nations Report on the issue.

She said: "What gets measured gets mended. But what I would say to the government is don't say we are measuring it but let's not act on hunger. The first results won't be available until 2021. One person going hungry for one day is torture and waiting until 2021 is one step in the right direction, but so much more needs to be done."

Lewell-Buck also gives her response to the Department of Education's announcement that the government will introduce relationship education in primary schools and sex and relationship education in secondary schools from September next year, although parents will be able to opt their children out of it if required up to the age of 15.

"This has been on the cards for a very long time, and people across party are championing it. Parliament should take credit for this, it will help children with a range of issues in schools," she said.

Lewell-Buck then proceeds to tell us why she believes the Labour MP Chris Williamson should be suspended from the Party over his comments on Antisemitism and why the party needs to take a tougher line on it.

"It is heart breaking what I have seen happening in my party. We need to tackle this and we need to tackle it quicker. Antisemitism has no place in our party and society. Chris should be suspended for his actions," she said.

On the break-away Independent Group (TIG) of Labour MPs she admitted to feeling "flat": "Last week my mood was flat, and in the party it was very flat. I would still talk to them."

Lewell-Buck is a Remain MP in a Leave voting constituency and she does not support her leader, Jeremy Corbyn's announcement this week that he is, in certain circumstances, in favour of a second referendum on #Brexit.

She explained: "It doesn't please me. I am behind Labour's Brexit plans. Our plans are better than Theresa May's. For me it is about the fabric of our democracy and do we respect the democratic process or not? I do and I stood on a manifesto that I would deliver on that referendum and I stand by that. Any party that is seen to try to block Brexit, you are paving the way for a hard right party for decades to come and that will damage my constituents. "

February 4th 2019

Maria Miller MP

Maria Miller MP: Reviewing how the UK's flagship World First Modern Day Slavery Act can be improved

Maria Miller the Conservative MP for Basingstoke and Chair of the Equalities Select Committee is to undertake a review of a flagship piece of legislation that her government introduced - The Modern Day Slavery Act which came into force in 2015.

The Prime Minister Theresa May MP, as Home Secretary had instigated the legislation and was one of the Bill's sponsors.

Women MPs across party working together in forums like the All-party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery, were instrumental in pointing to the growing numbers of trafficked women working in nail bars, domestic service, massage parlours and in prostitution itself. Often in Court they ended up being labelled as perpetrators of crimes rather than as victims of it.

Now the government has asked Maria Miller MP, Frank Field MP and Lady Butler Sloss to undertake an independent review of the workings of the Act and to report back on it.

The economic and social costs of modern slavery are estimated to be in the region of £4.3 billion a year. The National Audit Office issued a critical report about its workings, particularly the slavery NRM (National Referral Mechanism), and some have expressed concerns about inter agency working across borders after Brexit.

The Review, led by Field a Labour MP, has been welcomed by Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability who acknowledged that she hoped the Review would pinpoint how this World First legislation might help identify what more can be done to tackle this "terrible global injustice".

Miller told us: "The Modern Day Slavery Act was led by the Prime Minister Theresa May but it was important that when she was Home Secretary she did work across party to make sure that we had people supporting this for what it is; which is an important part of Britain's view of the way this Country should be run. We shouldn't have people who are subject to slavery and we shouldn't have people who have their rights withheld so it is an important piece of legislation."

She ended by saying: "It is really important that we have a police force and a court system that can support victims as well as bring the perpetrators to justice. We are right to be proud of this legislation, we are right to see it as a front-runner in the rest of the World but I hope that the Review I am involved with, with Elizabeth Butler Sloss and Frank Field, in leading, is able to improve the situation even more".

January 30th 2019

Tracey Crouch

Speaking up for Fathers & why Westminster Hall is such a good debating chamber

As the main chamber of the House of Commons was again listening to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, answer questions at her weekly PMQs on Brexit right across the parliamentary estate in Westminster Hall MPs were discussing the role of fathers in society and the support they receive, particularly from health professionals.

Tracey Crouch the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford and a former Sports, Civil Society and Loneliness minister led the Fathers debate. Several of her male colleagues chipped in as well to say how left-out they felt and often lonely too as the various health procedures made them feel "outsiders" in the birth of their own children. The health minister was there to respond to these concerns.

Crouch resigned her Ministerial role over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which led to her own government introducing the changes on maximum stakes betting earlier than planned as she and others had campaigned for.

Now she has a voice as a formidable Westminster campaigner outside government including on issues such as loneliness, gaming and fathers. She was the first Conservative Minister to take maternity leave and welcomed this week's news that the Commons was to introduce Proxy Voting, allowing one Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, who delayed giving birth to attend the Brexit-deal vote two weeks ago, to do just that in another Brexit vote this week.

Here Tracey tells us about her fathers debate and her other campaigns and why Westminster Hall is such a good debating chamber. Brexit, she says, must deter debate on important domestic issues.

Tracey key quotes:

"My own other half took shared parenting and he found it quite intimidating to go into any toddler and baby group not least because quite a lot of them are badged mother and baby groups or they were predominantly women. He felt quite isolated from some of those connections that mothers can easily make."

"Westminster Hall is a wonderful second Chamber of the House of Commons, and it offers a great platform for people to raise issues that are either very specific to their constituency or their region or indeed to general issues like the one today that will impact on people in their constituency. "

"Proxy Voting - this was a historic occasion for a parent in this place, it's incredibly hard to be a parent in this place and Proxy voting takes one bit of stress away from the whole process. I was the first Tory Minister to take maternity leave. I would encourage any person to come into this place and #AskHerToStand at any age, it is like being a working mum in any other professions. Parliament is a great place to work."

January 22nd 2019

Dame Vera Baird QC

Dame Vera Baird QC PCC Northumbria, welcomes the government's new Domestic Violence Bill

Vera Baird QC the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and a former Labour MP and Solicitor General, tells that while she welcomes the publication of the government's new Domestic Violence Bill this week she would like to see it go further and for the government to ensure that funding streams to DV support services are restored.

The Bill launched by the Prime Minister Theresa May MP, who said that throughout her political career she had "worked to bring an end to domestic abuse and support survivors", contains a package of new measures and strengths previously existing ones too.

There will be a ban on the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts, the introduction of domestic abuse protection orders, which will place restrictions on offenders, and the introduction for the first time of a definition of domestic abuse to include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical violence.

Some high risk offenders could also face mandatory lie-detector tests when released from prison. Although police will be able to let partners know if they are in a relationship with a previous offender there won't yet be a register of offenders.

The government also published for the first time research on the cost of domestic abuse to society, which amounts to £66bn including the physical and emotional harm caused by DV as well as the costs to the health service, and police and to victims themselves.

Key quotes Baird:"I welcome it and what is in it but there is much more to do than what is currently in the Bill."

Baird ends by saying: "£66 billion is a terrifying amount of money which means that the government can afford and ought to fund DV resources properly and they haven't been. There are cuts to refuge accommodation, there are cuts to out-reach workers, and everybody is strapped for cash. If they are serious about this Bill and they understand what it is costing us day by day now, they need urgently to properly fund the support services without which this bill will be meaningless, that's their next step."

January 15th 2019

British Flag

May's Withdrawal Agreement falls to an historic defeat in the House of Commons

Three solutions to the #Brexit crisis

On 15th January 2019 Theresa May's Withdrawal Bill was defeated by 230 votes. It was the biggest defeat for any government bill in modern political history. Will May survive? What next for #Brexit?

Here speaks to one Conservative MP Nicky Morgan who voted with her government and another Conservative MP Justine Greening who voted against. We also talk to the Labour MP Stella Creasy who voted against as did most of her Labour colleagues.

Morgan wants a Common Market 2.0 while Greening supports a second referendum. Creasy hopes to persuade parliamentarians to support a citizen's assembly to solve the Brexit crisis. All three are reaching out across the party divide.

May is expected to survive a no confidence vote in her government tomorrow.

Here we put all three views into one special #Brexitdefeat documentary short.

Production: Boni Sones

January 9th 2019

Emma Lewell-Buck MP

Saving Baby Carter Cookson

Emma Lewell-Buck is the Labour MP for South Shields.

The Charlie Cookson Foundation is run by parents who lost a child Sarah and Chris Cookson and helps to support children with life threatening conditions. But on Boxing Day 2018 their new baby was also found to have a heart condition and he now only has weeks to live unless he finds a new heart and one that comes from a baby too who has died.

It is a heart breaking situation for Sarah and Chris and today Emma Lewell-Buck the MP for South Shields and the Labour shadow minister for children and families, asked Theresa May the Prime Minister to help save baby Carter. May said she would get a minister to meet with Emma Lewell-Buck soon and that she wants to do more to encourage people to make organ donations.

Emma tells "I'm not the only one in Shields whose heart is breaking for them every single day. We are a small town with a big heart and everyone is rooting for the little boy."

You can find out more about the foundation here:

Emma also tells us about her debates and campaigns on the UN report into poverty in the UK; Funeral costs; Food Insecurity and where she stands on the current #Brexit negotiations representing a constituency that voted to Leave while she voted to Remain. She now supports a Brexit that does not damage people's livelihoods. She also says #Brexit is a distraction from the other important issues that her constituents face.

Caroline Spelman MP

Caroline Spelman MP and Jack Dromey MP - Preventing a no-deal #Brexit

This week MPs across party wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May asking that she ensures that when the UK leaves the EU it will not be on no-deal terms. Now over 220 MPs across party have signed that letter and yesterday May met with them in Westminster to discuss and listen to their concerns. It was highly unusual for a PM to meet a cross-party delegation in this way. The talks were said to be fruitful.

The no-deal letter was begun by neighbouring Midlands MPs from opposite sides of the party divide, Dame Caroline Spelman the Conservative MP for Meriden, and Jack Dromey the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington who both say jobs have already been lost in their constituencies due to Brexit.

Dromey told us: "We have to remain focused and do everything possible to see if a deal can be arrived at that guarantees the interests of our country for the longer term. Ultimately what motivates Caroline and ourselves is that we want to ensure our economy is protected and that those people whose lives have been transformed by a company like Jaguar Land Rover have their interests are protected."

Spelman told us: "Personally I would support Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement. But there are a lot making clear they will not support the Withdrawal Agreement. All Jack and I were trying to achieve was to put down a platform of stability and at least we agree we are not going to crash out of the EU with no-deal. That helps to provide reassurance to business and protect those jobs."

Both warned against a second referendum saying they did not think their Leave voters had changed their minds.

December 20th 2018

Jessica Elgot

This crazy news cycle: Jessica Elgot Political Correspondent, @GdnPolitics

Jessica Elgot, the Political Correspondent for the Guardian, discusses the last PMQs of this session of Parliament & the subsequent #StupidwomanGate remark said to have been made by the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She goes on to take a look at how a correspondent files her stories online and in print in "this crazy news cycle", this weeks' PMQs, Brexit and May's Withdrawal Agreement, the possibility of May getting the DUP back on side, a typical day in her life, and this very leaky Cabinet.

Jessica is in discussion with Boni Sones, Executive Producer of

December 14th 2018

#209 Women Photo exhibition in #Vote100 year of 207 women MPs

Joanna Cherry QC MP

MPs across party celebrate the #209 Women photo exhibition in Westminster which has just opened.

On 14th December 1918 women voted for the first time, and in the same year the first female MP was elected.

This Friday 100 years to the day the #209Women Exhibition opens to mark that significant moment in history. In all 207 of the 208 women in Parliament are photographed in the exhibition.

First we speak to Joanna Cherry QC MP the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West.

Joanna is a fan of the first woman ever to be elected to parliament Constance Georgine Markievic who never took up her seat as an Irish nationalist, and suffragist and whose portrait now also hangs in Parliament for the first time too thanks to the Irish government gifting it to Westminster.

Joanna also helped to instigate the legal challenge to #Brexit in the ECJ (European Court of Justice) which recently ruled that the UK can revoke Article 50 which when triggered two years ago took it on a course to leave the EU.

Helen Whately then spoke to some of those women MPs who had been photographed as they stood in front of their respective portraits: Yvette Cooper; Andrea Leadsom; Helen Whately; Kate Osamor; Lyn Brown; and Marsha de Cordova.

We then speak to Hilary Wood, Founder Director 209 women, Cheryl Newman, Curator, and Tracey Marshall of the Open Eye Gallery Liverpool where the exhibition will travel next.

209 women photographers across the UK volunteered to take these portraits in whatever setting the women MPs themselves thought appropriate to enable positive role models of women to be seen.

It runs until 14th February 2019.

December 11th 2018

Anne Marie Trevelyan MP

Anne Marie Trevelyan MP: Why when you are an MP Country has to be the first battle to fight

Brexiteer Anne Marie Trevelyan the Conservative MP for Berwick Upon Tweed represents a fishing constituency that voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 Referendum and after reading all 585 pages of Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement she resigned her junior ministerial position in the Department of Education. It was a hard decision to take but Trevelyan says she could not support a deal that threatened British sovereignty in this way.

We caught up with her in Central Lobby Westminster just as No 10 was telling the media that there would not be a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday 11th December as planned. Even Cabinet Ministers were taken aback as the Environment Secretary Michael Gove had been on BBC Radio 4 Today's programme saying the vote would go ahead.

Trevelyan said she was "disappointed" with May's decision as a vote on the agreement would have led to a resounding defeat for the government and it would have sent a clear message to the EU that the NI backstop was unacceptable to parliament on both sides of the benches.

"The PM said she does not believe the NI backstop would ever be used, but it is there, and we cannot control it only the EU can and that is an unacceptable position for both those on opposition benches and a large number of us on the Conservative benches to support something that hands away control of our country to something we are trying to leave," she said.

Speaking about her decision to resign from the government she said that after reading the agreement she felt she had little choice and that as an MP your loyalty is to your Constituency, Party and the Country and that: "Country has to be the first battle to fight. For this the risk of damage to the UK for decades to come is too great, we must not put this Withdrawal Agreement through. I am glad the PM has heard our voice. But my worry is that by not putting it to the vote the EU will continue to obfuscate which means we are more likely to end up in a WTO deal framework which is not disastrous but it is more complicated."

She said 95 per cent of emails to her over the past week had asked her not to support the Agreement. She said here had not just been one Referendum in 2016, but a General Election too in 2017 where the voters and the parties had expressed their views on leaving the EU and that she did not support another Referendum or a People's Vote.

She said she did find it hard to resign from her own government but that as a Brexiteer within government she had not been listened to and found it difficult to make her voice heard. "It just wasn't listened to", she said.

November 30th 2018

The Amendable Vote - A Second Referendum & a People's Vote or even another General Election?

Sarah Wollaston MP

Helen Goodman MP and Sarah Wollaston MP

Two MPs Helen Goodman and Sarah Wollaston discuss the #Brexit Amendable Vote on December 11th 2018 in Parliament

Sarah Wollaston is the Conservative MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health Select Committee. She has been at the forefront of the PV campaign.

Wollaston hopes that there will be a PV amendment put down when Theresa May's Withdrawal Bill is voted on in the Commons on December 11th and that it gains across party support including that of Labour MPs. She said that with 95 Conservative MPs now saying they will vote against May's deal it is "bound" to fall and that with no parliamentary consensus on what deal should be pursued -Canada or Norway - it would be sensible to hold another referendum giving voters a choice of May's deal or Remain.

She said: "Half my constituency voted Remain and the other half Leave. There is a parliamentary impasse and voters should be asked to give their informed consent on whether they support the PM's deal or Remain. "

As Chair of the Health Select she explained that there would be "no Brexit dividend to spend on the NHS there is only a Brexit penalty".

She also said that she was concerned about medicine shortages and some patients had to stick with the brands they were already being prescribed and couldn't switch easily. She also had concerns about how patients would get treatment abroad once we leave the EU and no longer share the health benefits of being a member.

"The Prime Minister should take proactive action rather than just be seen to be at the mercy of events," she said.

Helen Goodman MP #Brexit the Amendable Vote

Helen Goodman MP

Helen Goodman is the Labour MP for Bishop Auckland and she also sits on the House of Commons Procedure Committee that decides how the proceedings in the House of Commons will be conducted when Theresa May's Withdrawal Bill is put to a vote in Parliament.

The Committee decided the motion to approve the Bill would be fully amendable allowing MPs to suggest improvements to it. These will be of two types, either amendments of substance or of process. Goodman said she expected there might be as many as 4 or 5 amendments which could derail the approval of the Bill.

Goodman said she would be voting against the Bill because with a constituency that embraces manufacturing industries she wanted to remain in the customs union.

She praised the Chancellor Philip Hammond for speaking publicly about the negative impact Brexit would have on the UK economy, following the publication of a Treasury Report this week.

But she said that if the Bill was voted down she believed it would not necessarily lead to another General Election as her party wants, because the Fixed Term Parliament Act made it difficult to do this, however, she thought Theresa May's administration may come to an end and a new Conservative administration would take over.

"This is a difficult choice and people have very strong feelings on both sides. What we don't want is decisions taken on the basis of street demonstrations. We need to take the decision in a proper way through a parliamentary process," she said.

Goodman also spoke about the twitter spat she had had with BBC presenter Andrew Neil saying "the years of belittling women are past" and that she had got an apology from him for insulting another women on social media.

Sarah Wollaston MP: The Stalking Protection Bill

Sarah Wollaston MP

Sarah Wollaston MP has just steered her Private Members' Stalking Protection Bill through the Commons. Wollaston said her Stalking Protection Bill would now go to the Lords with the likelihood it would become law next summer. It will allow victims of stalking to apply for protection orders from the police rather than having to go to court initially, but that if such an order was broken criminal action could be taken and the penalties would be severe with up to five years in prison.

"There's been a gap in the law because if you are stalked the onus is entirely on you to take action against your stalker and the point about my stalking protection orders that my Bill will bring in is that the police will bring the action and can go to a magistrates court to get a civil order so it relies upon the balance of probability rather than the criminal standard of proof but once it is in place breaching it has real teeth and they can go to prison for up to five years. " She also said such orders allowed treatments to be offered to offenders to stop repeat offences.

19th November 2018

50 50 Supporters

50:50 Parliament #AskHerToStand

This week 200 MPs will take approximately 300 women to the UK Parliament as part of the 50:50 Parliament campaign to encourage more women to stand for and become MPs.

It's run by Frances Scott who took her troops to Newnham College University of Cambridge on Saturday to shout "loud and proud" about the need for a gender based parliament and hopefully sooner rather than later.

In this special 20 minute audio documentary we speak to supporters of the campaign who took part in or attended the Newnham debate: Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party; Daniel Zeichner the Labour MP for Cambridge; Frances Scott of 50:50 Parliament; Jackie Ashley, a former president of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge and a consultant; Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal, Newnham College.

Amelia emphasised "women need to be asked to stand several times". Daniel said due to positive discrimination Labour hoped to have a 50:50 split of MPs after the next election and that more diversity was a good thing including more MPs from "working class and ethnic backgrounds".

Frances said her campaign was not party political and so long as more women came into parliament she did not necessarily favour one method of doing this over another but that we need to shout "loud and proud" about the need for more women.

Jackie said things were "getting easier" for women in parliament now as there were more of them. Carol spoke of the need for "resilience" and said politics could be "nasty" at times but that events like this one at Newnham helped young women realise how to start out in politics when they may not have been aware of how to do it before.

Currently 32 per cent of the 650 MPs in Parliament are women and academics estimate that it could take up to 200 years before we get a 50:50 gender based parliament. Frances said she hoped it would only take "two General Elections".

November 17th 2018

Carolyn Harris MP

Carolyn Harris MP

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals the Chancellor climbs down

Carolyn Harris the Labour MP for Swansea East is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals. Here she discusses the about turn the Chancellor Philip Hammond did on introducing changes to the rules governing FOBT lowering the maximum stake that can be waged to just £2 sooner rather than delaying this until the autumn. In the Budget Hammond had said the changes would be delayed which lead to the resignation of the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch.

Families and relatives of those who have either committed suicide or run up huge debts as a result of playing these addictive terminals had lobbied for change.

Harris told that she is contacted "daily" about FOBT from those who had contemplated suicide or from families who had lost relatives or from those who had had their homes repossessed.

Harris said that now the stakes had been reduced from £100 to £2 she anticipated that the bookies would not install the machines in the future as they wouldn't be profitable to play.

November 14th 2018

Dame Caroline Spelman

UK Parliament Week: Why you need to persevere in politics

Dame Caroline Spelman the Conservative MP for Meriden and the former Secretary of State for the Environment in David Cameron's 2010 government hosted an event in Westminster to explore ways of encouraging more women to enter the Church as part of UK Parliament Week.

Dame Spelman is the Second Church Estates Commissioner in Parliament and supports positive action to get more women into the Church of England and also into Parliament and is an advocate of mentoring whether you are mentoring others or like her being mentored by someone such as Baroness Gillian Shepard. Spelman was rejected 27 times before she finally got her Meriden seat and has now been re-elected five times.

In this special Parliament Week podcast you will hear first from two female Bishops, Sarah Elisabeth Mullally the Bishop of London and Vivienne Faull the Bishop of Bristol, and then from Dame Spelman herself.

Dame Spelman believes the culture of the Church like Parliament is changing but that "positive discrimination" can help to accelerate progress in both. The House of Lords is now positively discriminating in appointing female Bishops to its numbers when a male Bishop leaves.

Mentoring, she says, can help new MPs to "navigate the challenge of being a parliamentarian". To succeed in both the Church and Parliament she emphasises the need for women to "preserve".

"You have to persevere. The important thing is to persevere in politics."

They are in discussion with Boni Sones of

November 8th 2018

House of Commons Chamber

#WomenMPsOfTheWorld Debate A First for the House of Commons

Five women MPs who have brought about change in their countries tell the stories of their parliaments

Over 100 women from over 80 countries and five continents took part in a very special debate in the House of Commons Chamber today. It was the first time women from all over the World had sat and spoken in the UK Parliament.

In this special 25 minute audio documentary Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones speak to five delegates who spoke in this debate.

The Prime Minister Theresa May MP, the Secretary of State for International Development and the Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt MP, the leader of the House Andrea Leadsom MP, and the Mother of the House Harriet Harman MP worked together across party lines to bring this about.

The delegates introduce themselves and come from Afghanistan, The Kyrgyz Republic, Tunisia, Philippines and Romania.

They are: Elay Ershad, Afghanistan; Elvira Surabaldieva, Kyrgyzstan; Khawla Ben Aicha, Tunisia; Senator Risa Hontiveros, Philippines; Oana Bîzgan, Romania.

All agreed with Harriet Harman MP that it should become a yearly event hosted by Parliaments all over the World.

Audio Copyright: Boni Sones and Linda Fairbrother.

November 6th 2018

Professor Peter Clarke

Are the Conservatives entering their third historical political phase of self-destruction?

Peter Clarke, Professor Emeritus of Modern British History, University of Cambridge

Professor Clarke discusses Theresa May's leadership of the Conservative Party, her approach to the Brexit negotiations, and what he thinks will be the outcome of her Chequers deal when it is eventually put to parliament later this year.

Professor Clarke begins this 20 minute audio podcast by looking back to the split in the Conservative Party during the 19th Century Corn Law reforms which lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Robert Peel and later the 20th Century tariff reforms under Arthur Balfour's Prime-ministership which ended disastrously for the party leading to an historic election defeat.

Clarke explains that although he feels May was dealt a "poor hand" taking over the Prime- ministership to deliver Brexit when she had voted Remain, she did then "dig herself" into the subsequent difficulties she now faces by triggering Article 50 too soon and spelling out her notorious red lines in the Summer of 2016 for the negotiations before there was a coherent position in the Conservative party and in the Country. He believes: "She needn't have done any of that".

He said: "We might feel sorry for Theresa May week by week in the difficulties that face her but many of them are of her own making.

"She over fulfilled her commitment. A more prudent leader, a more canny leader, perhaps a more devious leader would surely have been able to craft a tub thumping speech that would have shown her heart was in the right place but without actually tying herself down to a series of conditions which as it has turned out are impossible to fulfil."

Clarke thinks there could be both a People's Vote and a General Election, but that you can call an Election in three weeks but a referendum takes up to six months: "We are in perhaps the third historical phase where the Conservatives are playing with dynamite themselves and who gets blown up is going to be the real issue."

October 30th 2018

Heidi Allen MP

Heidi Allen the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire gives her verdict on "fortune Phil's" Budget and says why she held a public meeting on #Brexit

The Chancellor Philip Hammond this week produced a budget giving extra money to public services, such as health, education, defence and even pot holes, and while he might not have convinced voters he was ending austerity he certainly produced one of the biggest give-aways of the conservative government's tenure in office over the past eight years. He also provided an extra £1.7 billion to ease the hardship caused by the introduction of Universal Credit, but critics of the new benefit system, that roles 6 benefits into one, such as the Conservative MP Heidi Allen, who sits on the Work and Pensions Select Committee say he has not yet done enough and that they will continue campaigning.

Heidi Allen MP also represents a strong remain constituency were people are employed in agriculture, high tech industry and academia and while she thinks South Cambridgeshire will weather the storm caused by Brexit she believes it will do untold harm nationally to the UK economy. She didn't march for a second referendum and People's Vote but says one maybe necessary if there is no-deal and that she fully supports Theresa May in her negotiations with Europe. She said she couldn't serve in a Boris Johnson government, but that the complexities and divisions within both the Conservative party and Labour might eventually result in a new political party emerging or even a government of "national unity".

Allen supports a Norway type deal embracing both the single market and the customs union which would solve the problem of the Northern Irish border and is, she says, "gaining traction."

Allen explained she will continue the campaign to reform the introduction of Universal Credit: "This is whatever way you look at it, is big spending, but our work on the Select Committee will continue and we will publish reports on the ongoing small, changes we still need to Universal Credit, that the PM, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State can see. The Budget was a massive step forward but it isn't going to keep Universal Credit out of the headlines."

Allen told "I hope that ultimately there aren't that many in the right wing of the party that would in the cold light of day vote to put the Conservative government at risk or the Prime Minister at risk by voting for a no-deal. I hope they will put the country first and we won't come to that point."

She continued: "There is talk of a new party and if we were to reach economic meltdown, and the risk of it because of a no-deal on the table, I think people would look beyond party to a country national allegiance and party would be parked to the side for a while."

"It was a budget of optimism, of economic recovery, of investment, and part of it I am sure would be a message to Europe, to say stick with us, we are a good solid economy."

October 17th 2018

Maria Mille MP

Maria Miller MP #CoxReport Harassment in Parliament

Maria Miller the Conservative MP for Basingstoke who chairs the Women & Equalities Select Committee used a debate yesterday called to discuss the Dame Laura Cox report on harassment and bullying of staff in Parliament to call for the Speaker, John Bercow to resign.

Miller says she was disappointed with the number of MPs in the debate and that even though Cox did not name names the report makes it obvious that senior people overseeing parliamentary procedures including Bercow himself must now step down rather than wait until next summer when he has indicated he would be willing to leave.

Some MPs suggested that Bercow must stay on to see the Brexit negotiations through to the end but Miller says there are others who can perform this role, such as the Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing, who has sat in the chair 750 times over her five years as deputy, and that the reporting processes of the House of Commons Commission itself to parliament raised constitutional questions over responsibilities, transparency and accountability. She said staff who reported harassment or bullying needed to be sure the procedures were transparent and independent.

She said change could happen quickly if there was a will there: "The problem here in Parliament is that there is little accountability, there isn't a will from the top to do this, else it would have happened already, and the culture of cover up and fear is still palpable. I think that came out in the debate yesterday when so many MPs absented themselves rather than risk being associated with a call for the Speaker to resign and so will he resign? I think only if some of those MPs have the courage to stand up and be counted."

Miller said Dame Cox would give evidence to her Committee in parliament next week. She praised Chris Cook of BBC Newsnight who highlighted over several months the concerns of House of Commons staff about harassment.

Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP for Luton South - #HateCrime

Gavin Shuker MP

Gavin Shuker the Labour MP for Luton South is a member of the Women & Equalities Select Committee which today heard evidence from the traveller community on hate crime.

The Committee has been looking more widely at the problem of hate crime in society, including that associated with race, disability and women. Some such as the Labour MP Stella Creasy have recently called for misogyny to be made a hate crime while others have responded to that by asking that misandry - hate directed towards men - be included too.

Hate crimes are offences motivated by prejudice against someone's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Gavin Shuker tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer of why he thinks social media must reform to take down users who display hate on certain platforms such as twitter and Facebook.

He said: "There is a responsibility on social media companies to prevent the kind of anonymous abuse that goes on. It is only through international commitments we are going to be able to tackle these big tech firms and encourage them to do the right thing, it is being neglected. We are as a parliament withdrawing from some of these because of Brexit.

He said he wasn't sure about misandry being a hate crime too: "These characteristics are protected for a reason they should be identifiable."

Shuker explained that the 2010 Equality Act only went so far and that if new "smart" legislation were introduced to tackle such crimes it would need European and USA co-operation to implement it as this is where many of the tech companies are based.

He continued: "That is why I am a proud internationalist and think we need to tackle these issues together rather than thinking a few hearings in Westminster will make a difference."

Shuker said he was shocked by the Dame Laura Cox report on harassment in parliament, and agrees there needs to be a clean broom approach, but thinks attacks on the Speaker, John Bercow, have been politicised and that Bercow has done some very good things.

He said: "He should go next summer and we put in place a new regime with oversight."

"At the minute the processes we have are inadequate whether you are the complainant or the complained about, you need a non-politicised process, we are starting to get that in the parties and we need it in parliament as well. It needs to be a fully independent process."

October 10th 2018

Seema Malhotra MP

#Brexit putting the Country first: Seema Malhotra MP

Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston sits on the Brexit Select Committee and following today's meeting she took time to tell who the Committee had heard evidence from and what kind of "fudge" she thinks we will end up with.

Seema also tried to ask Theresa May the Prime Minister a PMQ today on the lives of children and the pressures on them. She said that by 2020 the Institute for Government has estimated that we will have spent £ billion on Brexit and that money could have been better spent improving children's services more generally.

She also did not think we should set up a Royal Commission on Brexit but that the government should be taking more notice of the evidence already presented to it on the impact of Brexit including the reports produced by her own Select Committee.

She said: "On the NI border it wouldn't surprise me if there was some kind of fudge on the customs union. I have always said we need to say in the customs union and I also think we need to stay in a reformed single market."

She continued: "When the government is ignoring all the evidence around the economy and the government is making its decisions based on what is happening around the wings of the Tory party I don't think any Royal Commission is going to have any greater influence than the Committees we have had. It is just about time the government listened and made decisions in the interests of the Country."

#WASPI #Backto60 #OneVoice #LondonRally10thOctober2018.

Womens march

Around one thousand women marched from Hyde Park to Westminster today from all over the Country, in protest again at the rise to their state pension age. Carrying banners, and bringing traffic to a standstill outside Parliament several of the campaign groups associated with the SPA rises for women joined together #shouldertoshoulder to raise the issue yet again with politicians and Theresa May's government.

In this special moving Executive Producer Boni Sones spoke to Karen Glynn, Janet Rhodes, Julie Delve, Christine Austin and Prafula Shah.

#shouldertoshoulder #onevoice

Timandra French and Leilah Leak from East Kent Waspi and #Backto60 talk to about their march to Westminster today to protest against state pension age increases for 3.5 million women which they say are unfair and causing much hardship.

October 3rd 2018

Baroness Ros Altmann, a Conservative Peer and former Pensions Minister, gives her reaction to the Prime Minister, Theresa May's speech to Conference today.

Carolyn Harris MP

May ruled out a People's Vote and a Second Referendum saying it would be a "politician's vote" and diminish "faith in our democracy". But Altmann has been a leading proponent of a People's Vote and says she will continue to campaign alongside other Conservative politicians and those in other parties for one. May also ruled out a Canada or Norway style Brexit deal sticking instead to her Chequers Deal or a No deal.

Even so Altmann gives May 7/10 for the speech: "As a speech from our Party leader to our conference I would give Theresa May 7/10 at least because she has done what the leader has to do. I would not say she would get such high marks if this was meant to be a strategy for success with new negotiations, because we have seen already that the negotiations that she was supposed to enter on the basis of the Chequers deal broke down. The EU has made clear it will not accept that. More movement will have to be made by Britain but actually making such movement is in our interests."

A fringe event at Conference on #People's Vote which Altmann spoke at was not listed in the party brochure despite it having been entered for debate.

October 2nd 2018


Carolyn Harris MP

A new Private Members' Bill is being introduced to help 1950 women affected by the State Pension Age increase

Carolyn Harris the Labour MP for Swansea East is bringing in a new Private Members' Bill to alleviate the hardship caused to 1950s born women who have seen their pension ages increased.

Women are said to be visiting food banks, sleeping in sheds, and suffering ill health and even considering suicide as a result of the financial hardship caused by raising the State Pension Age for women from 60. At least 2.6 million are said to be affected by these staggered changes to the age at which they can now retire.

The Pensions (Review of Women's Arrangements) Bill was supposed to be read for a second time on the floor of the House at the end of October 2018 but Harris has asked for it to be rescheduled on one sitting Friday in November or December to ensure that it actually gets heard rather than dropped through lack of parliamentary time.

Harris has written her Bill but it has not been published yet. It proposes three measures that would alleviate the hardship caused in the worst cases of SPA increases. These are transitional payments to be made until women qualify for the pension at the new age; an extension of tax credits where there is no other income for the women concerned; and all women to be given the maximum pension entitlement rather than the staggered rates they may have qualified for.

Harris tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer of that she believes this is the fastest route to get some kind of justice for 1950s women and that even though it does not address the issue of whether or not the pension age increase should have taken place, it allows parliament to make amends in some of the worst cases that are still ongoing.

Harris, who has come in for criticism herself from some rival interested groups, pointed out that the All-Party Parliamentary group on Inequality and the State Pension Age, which she Chairs, is not associated with any particular campaign and that the recent report they produced took evidence from all groups and individuals equally and accepted evidence from 90 different consultations.

Harris told Sones: "It is a bigger issue for me than Brexit. I have become associated with the issue. Very many women write regularly to their own MPs and news outlets and they write to me as well. Every single day there will be letter a phone call, an email a message on twitter. Every single day there will be something. It is something which I have more people talking about than they do about Brexit, for me I get more people concerned about this than any other subject."

Harris said she thought the vote would be successful in the House when her Bill is finally scheduled: "We are number 16 or 17 on the list in October, but we now know there are 12 more sitting Friday's and we want to re-table it on a Friday where it can be higher up on the agenda and then take it to a meaningful vote. There would be enough people voting for it I am confident of that. This is where we will get victory on this. It would be up to the government to structure a timetable to allow these three measures to happen and hopefully it could be done very, very, quickly."

September 13th 2018


Jo Swinson MP

Jo Swinson MP & baby Gabriel #ProxyVoting.

Jo Swinson MP has made parliamentary history today by taking her 11 week old son Gabriel into the Chamber of the House of Commons while she listened to the end of a debate on Proxy Voting.

Jo had previously spoken in that debate and then rushed back to her office in the Commons to feed Gabriel. In this exclusive interview Jo told us, holding baby Gabriel in her arms, why she and other women MPs across party support proxy voting. You can hear Gabriel joining in the discussion too.

As part of her contribution to the debate Jo had spoken movingly about the difficulties of getting young babies to "latch" when breast feeding, and the difficulties for a young Mum of leaving a baby, she also revealed she keeps expressed milk not alcohol in her office fridge.

Jo confronted the controversy of Tory whips telling their MPs who had been "paired" with others, including a pairing arrangement she had just after Gabriel was born, to break that pairing arrangement in an important vote before the Summer recess on Brexit which subsequently the government narrowly won.

Jo told Boni Sones: "It was infuriating. I was at home with a two week old baby and the key Brexit pairing arrangement was broken. That is why we need to have proxy voting, a simple system where an MP with a small baby would be able to nominate a colleague to vote on their behalf so the vote of that constituency was still recorded."

She added: "What happens if you are in the middle of a feed when a division bell rings? It's all very unpredictable and you need to have lots of contingency with a small baby and a proper proxy voting system".

Seema Malhotra MP

Seema Malhotra the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston is a member of the Brexit Select Committee. Here she speaks to Boni Sones hot foot from Wednesday's PMQs where the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had questioned Theresa May MP the Prime Minister on the issue of the role out of Universal Credit.

Boni asked Seema about whether she thought PMQs had been too noisy, the response May gave on Universal Credit and if she thought the Brexit Select Committee was doing a good job in holding the government to account. Seema also spoke of her personal reaction to the Chequers Deal and whether she would vote for it when and if it is put to a Meaningful Vote in Parliament in November or December.

Seema said: "Today was pretty shouty and we couldn't actually hear what Jeremy was saying. The speaker does need to intervene. There needs to be some level of respect and it wasn't there from the Tory side today. This is a government that has failed in the roll out of Universal Credit. There will be greater calls for change."

"I don't see how I could vote for it (Chequers). There are too many unanswered questions and we haven't even seen the final deal so it is always increasing. It is very hard to say but in terms of what I have stood for and what I have called for in terms of our relationship with the European Union I can't see how I would be supporting the government. I think the government has a lot more work to do and there is less than 200 days to Brexit."

September 4th 2018

Rupa Huq MP

Rupa Huq MP #Women&Brexit

Rupa Huq the Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton today held a debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall to discuss the impact of Brexiting the EU on women and their families.

She said Brexit would disproportionately affect women particularly those in low paid caring jobs, who would also have to bear the brunt of any resulting economic downturn when many were already in insecure and low paid jobs.

The Conservative Minister Victoria Atkin's MP responded to her concerns by saying the government would be conducting a gender audit of any legislative changes post Brexit and that it would be protecting workers' employment rights. She said the UK was leading the World on its policies on gender pay gap audits but all this was not enough to placate Huq.

In this interview straight after the debate Boni Sones, Executive Producer of for women spoke to Huq and three campaigners who had suggested she stage such a debate.

They were Nina Parker of Women for Europe, Rachel Franklin of Women for a People's Vote, and Lauren Pemberton of Women for Europe.

Huq said: "Women will be the most adversely affected by Brexit for a number of reasons, employment protections, insecure employment, and they work in professions that are contracting, and also as consumers, and in all of our lives women are hit by Brexit but worse so."

Huq ended by saying she hopes her party Labour would reject Theresa May's Chequers deal: "We have six tests about whether we will get the same benefits or equivalent and if the Chequers plan doesn't satisfy these we vote against it and then it opens up for the leadership to support a People's Vote which I think we should do anyway."

July 24th 2018

Parliament breaks for its Summer Recess.

Siobhain McDonagh MP

Siobhain McDonagh MP: Housing and the National Trust rent rises; Proxty Votes; Brexit and Antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Siobhain McDonagh the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden asked the Minister for Housing this week if he'd had any discussions with the National Trust about its plans to increase their tenants' rents to market levels. Siobhain believes this will mean a number of people, particularly those with disabilities will not be able to pay their rents and will become homeless and will end up being the responsibility of various housing departments and councils across the country.

One of her constituents, Maria, is having her rent put up beyond the level that housing benefit will pay, which ultimately will lead to a shortfall of about £350 a month, leading eventually to her eviction and reliance on the state for help.

Sibohain said: "It's an extraordinary thing for the National Trust to be doing. They would say these are market rents but I think they have a bigger social responsibility to the 5,000 tenants they have across the country particularly as they are a much loved organisation who get a great deal of support from the government and bequests from members. I think they would be horrified to know this. They are very difficult to contact. Often bringing up an issue on the floor of the House gets something unlocked."

Commenting on the Proxy voting row over the breaking of Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson's pairing arrangement while she was on maternity leave she said: "It was such a breach of trust, I wouldn't have any opposition to someone nominating someone to vote for them."

On Brexit she said: "I believe in a Peoples' Vote when we know what the deal is, or to Leave without a deal or to Remain". "I am really concerned, I am concerned for the Country and I am concerned for London. What will happen to services? If London catches a cold everybody sneezes."

On the row over antisemitism in her party and whether or not it will adopt the internationally recognised definition on this and the war of words between the respected Peer Dame Margaret Hodge and the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn she said: "Dame Margaret Hodge is a national treasure. Why do we think we can come up with a different definition to that accepted by the UN and everybody else?"

July 19th 2018


Vicky Ford

Vicky Ford the Conservative MP for Chelmsford: Pankhurst Teas, Proxy Voting, Brexit White Paper, & her Prime Minister Theresa May

Vicky Ford the Conservative MP for Chelmsford, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the House of Commons, this week with others laid a wreath at the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragette movement, to commemorate Pankhurst's birthday, she was born in Manchester on 15th July 1858, and it is also the Centenary year of women and the vote. Vicky has also been attending Pankhurst parties in her constituency, which are also being held throughout the UK. She is part of a movement which is encouraging women from all parties to come forward and stand for parliament with the campaign group #AskHerToStand. Pankhurst was a Conservative politician but her family wanted the celebrations to be cross party.

We also asked Vicky to give an up sum of the weeks' events in Westminster, when the government narrowly got its amendments to the Brexit White Paper through when four Labour MPs voted with it, and her assessment of Theresa May her Prime Minister, only the second woman to ever hold this office of state. Another contentious issue this week has been the error that allowed a Conservative politician to vote when he should have been paired with the liberal democrat MP, Jo Swinson, who is on maternity leave leading to a debate in the Chamber on Proxy Voting which some are asking for and the Mother of the House, Labour politician Harriet Harman, asked May a PMQ about this.

Vicky told us: "We have been having Pankhurst Parties we had a big one in Chelmsford on Sunday. A bit like the Equaliteas. And we laid a wreath in Chelmsford. We have a woman Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor of Chelmsford is a woman, and I am the first woman MP in my constituency. We are running #AskHerToSTand, because women need to be asked a few more times than men to stand."

"In terms of Pairing, I have used it. I was actually paired last night in order to let a member of the opposition who I think was unwell, to make sure their vote was still respected. I think the Proxy voting system would be complicated, particularly if there are local issues like there were with Heathrow. I think the pairing system has a long history, this was a silly error, and we need to make sure the pairing system is strong and robust. Brexit is a very, very difficult negotiation Theresa May is definitely the right person to be leading us through it."

July 12th 2018

Baroness Susan Kramer

Baroness Susan Kramer says why Theresa May's Chequers Brexit Plan, future free trade deals and food standards post Brexit need greater scrutiny

Baroness Susan Kramer the LD Treasury and Economics spokesperson believes Theresa May's Chequers Brexit Plan leaves much to be desired. She also warns that any future free trade deal with countries like America could mean UK consumers will be eating less healthy foods and to a lowering of standards on goods we import and the environment.

She tells "I was frankly stunned by the news of the Chequers Agreement. It seemed extraordinary they had agreed and they seemed to agree that everyone had agreed and then we had the news of the resignations and that seemed to be so much more logically.

"What is life like post Brexit if we do Brexit? I think there is a small possibility that we think all the options are so awful that we pull back. There is real unravelling. What kind of standards do we want for our foods? We want high standards of food safety, we want high quality, and labelling, and to make sure that harmful products like fats and sugars are highlighted and also to make sure animal welfare is key and not abuse of the animals we are going to eat. If we want those standards it is logical that we stay within the EU. The US standards are much, much lower on every one of those fronts."

She also tells us why she agrees with Donald Trump, the American President, that the UK is in chaos at the moment.

Sarah Wollaston MP: A new law on Stalking & supporting Theresa May on her new Brexit Plan

Sarah Wollaston MP

Sarah Wollaston the Conservative MP for Totness has a new Private Members Bill going through Parliament that would allow victims of stalking to get the police to take out stalking protection orders. She hopes that the government will expedite the PMB just like its down with Wera Hobhouse MP's Upskirting Bill to ensure it becomes law sooner rather than later.

Wollaston told that SPOs would ensure women got protection from stalking earlier rather than waiting for a case to be taken through the criminal justice system.

She said: "This is designed to put something in place while the case is being built that sets out very clear restrictions on the stalker things that they can't do, like stopping them pursuing the victim and in some cases setting out a positive requirement that they attend a psychiatric assessment, or take part in a perpetrators programmes designed to stop this crime of obsession and fixation, to try and break the cycle at an earlier stage."

She added: "I would love to see the government expedite this Bill if there is time, we have seen the Upskirting Bill being expedited, and stalking and its dangers means it should also be expedited."

On the new Chequers Brexit Plan which led to seven resignations this week from the government and party, Wollaston said: "This is what pragmatic responses are about and I think she is doing a very good job and we should give her a fair wind to get this through. There is no appetite in the party for a leadership challenge; the Brexiteers are behaving very badly."

Wollaston also chairs the influential Health Select Committee.

June 27th 2018

Maria Miller MP


Voice & Vote Exhibition, Westminster Hall, Women's Place in Parliament

In this special podcast Maria Miller MP, the Chair of the Equalities Select Committee gives listeners her very own tour of the new Voice & Vote Exhibition to be opened this week in Westminster Hall. It takes visitors through the historic moments of women's suffrage and their struggle for the vote from the Grill women used to have to look down on to see the debates going on below on the floor of the House to a large Orange wall that has in white writing the name of every women MP to ever sit in Parliament.

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of askes Maria to read from some of the plaques including that of Nancy Astor, the first women to take up her seat, and then to stand beside and look at probably the three most well-known women in Parliament, Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher and Shirley Williams who still sits in the Lords today. Maria tells Boni that Margaret Thatcher was the reason she decided to become an MP but that she also looks up to Barbara and Shirley.

Maria said: "These women were amazing individuals who did so much to shape the country. Equality is something that joins parties together, it gets parties to find their common agreement and their common values, and certainly my Committee has no problem in finding common ground in improving the lives of women. "

Lucy Allan MP for Telford

Child Sexual Exploitation - CSE

Lucy Allan MP for Telford talks about Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Upskirting, the expansion of Heathrow airport and why she strongly supports Brexit two years on from the UK's referendum in which people narrowly voted to leave.

On CSE Lucy said: "Unless you call something out for what it is, if you pretend it is something else, you are going to get a lot of resentment and nobody wants that."

On Heathrow & Brexit two years on Lucy said: "I voted in favour of a new runway at Heathrow, in the context of Brexit and having passed the Withdrawal Bill we should be thinking about how we expand our horizons to be a more global trading nation."

"I think if we were to have a second referendum there would be a much higher proportion of people voting to leave partly because of the way the EU has behaved in these negotiations."

June 15th 2018

Baroness Ruth Deech

Baroness Ruth Deech - #Brexit "Ping Pong" & the House of Lords

Baroness Ruth Deech, who supported Brexit, tells us why she believes the House of Lords has every right to amend the legislation of the Commons and that the so called "ping pong" process by which amendments pass from one House to the other are good for democracy.

This week the House of Commons considered 15 Lord's Amendments to the Brexit Bill, and overturned them all, but inflicting considerable damage to both the Conservative and Labour parties whose leaders, Theresa May the Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn were unable to get their respective front benches to vote with their party line. There was even one Conservative ministerial resignation, Phillip Lee, the Justice Minister before the vote on Wednesday. But May did stem off a threatened rebellion by the Remainer's on one amendment the so called right to give Parliament a "Meaningful" vote on the final Brexit deal but only possibly to row back on that later.

Meanwhile six of Jeremy Corbyn's front bench resigned some in support of the amendment that would allow the UK to remain part of the EEA, and a smaller number who didn't want to vote for it or Labour's fudge on the issue as it would then still have allowed free movement of labour, and uncontrolled immigration. Another contentious area was membership of the Customs Union.

Baroness Deech said:

"I think it is not more chaotic than other times in our National life. When Henry VIII broke from Rome, I expect it was completely chaotic. After all our current system is based on Henry VIII's break from Rome, and I think decisions which we made in the Second World War with Churchill were chaotic. When it is difficult times we do get chaos in parliament, but it is a good chaos it is a debating chaos, a democratic chaos, what the historians will say I don't know but they may say it is our finest hour, I hope so."

"From a woman's point of view the EU and their leaders seem to be very, very, male. This is one of the problems. Mrs May, I think, I don't know her, is taking a conciliatory approach and trying to mediate, and we are faced with a bunch of male authoritarian Eurocrats, saying: "This is the law I am laying down the law to you". This is one of the problems. The EU lacks the attributes that makes some women good at politics."

"I think as a British person our human rights are very protected by our own Supreme Court, our Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention of Human Rights. We are much better off here than we would be if we relied solely on the Charter of Fundamental Rights. When it comes to the independence of the judiciary, the position of women, gay people, children and families we are far better off here than anywhere in Europe."

12th June 2018

Bridget Smith

Bridget Smith, takes over as the new Liberal Democrat Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council

In the May 2018 local elections one result sent shock waves across the whole country. The normally safe Conservative parliamentary seat of South Cambridgeshire returned a Liberal Democrat controlled council with a healthy majority winning 30 of the 45 seats. There were boundary changes and a reduction in the number of seats from 57 but even so the Conservatives were reduced to just 11 seats when previously they had 35. There were also two independents and two labour councillors elected.

Some put the dramatic change down to the 2016 Referendum and Brexit, and the vote to leave the EU, in which 60 per cent of South Cambridgeshire voters wanted to Remain, but there were other factors at play too, such as no proper local plan, controversial housing developments, transportation, the lack of face to face debt advice, and the need for more affordable homes for young people to live in.

The Liberal Democrats, who have a reputation for being good local campaigners, also had a new phone App called Minivan which fed into a phone system called Connect. The app allowed them as they campaigned to know which houses they needed to call on to improve their vote in each ward.

In this interview Cllr Bridget Smith the new leader of South Cambridgeshire talks to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of about the victory.

Bridget said: "By mid-day on Friday it was just a waterfall of yellow votes, they just kept on coming, so we exceeded our expectations. Putting it down to Brexit is far too simplistic. We have had four years of no local plan, and no five year housing land supply, so out of control speculative land development. The performance of the council so far as planning was concerned had been lamentable."

Bridget admitted it was a "clever" campaign and that they were now looking towards the next general election: "I would hope that this would worry the Conservatives and make us a target seat in the next General Election, absolutely. "

6th June 2018

Vicky Ford

Vicky Ford MP for Chelmsford on #Abortion in Northern Ireland

Vicky Ford the MP for Chelmsford speaks about her speech in the recent debate on reforming the abortion laws in Northern Ireland and amending the Offences Against the persons Act of 1861 proposed by the Labour politician Stella Creasey. The Debate was brought forward after a referendum in Southern Ireland where the vote was overwhelmingly in support of abortion reform leaving NI out of step with the rest of the UK.

In that debate there were moving speeches by women MPs from both sides of the House including the Labour MP Jess Phillips and the Conservative MP Heidi Allen, who both told of their own abortions.

Vicky said that as a former Euro MP she had frequently debated Abortion laws in other countries and always voted in favour of a woman's right to chose but also ended by saying the final decisiion should be left for when the NI assembly reconvenes and implored members to take up their seats to meet and take the decision so Britain isn't forced to do it for them. Vicky was born in NI and went to Sunday School there.

Vicky talked to Boni Sones, producer, of the day before the Supreme Court rules whether or not the UK is in contravention of the Human Rights Act on this.

Vicky said: "It is their decision (NI) when to reform the Abortion laws, but it was very clear from a number of speeches in the House that it couldn't go on indefinitely."

Helen Goodman MP supporting Labour's new Brexit Bill Reasoned Amendment

Helen Goodman

Helen Goodman the Labour MP for Bishop Auckland talks about the announcement today that Labour will be putting forward its own reasoned amendment to the Brexit Bill on Tuesday when all 15 Lords amendments will be debated in one day to ensure it does not have to support membership of the European Economic Area. This would have meant the UK would remain part of the Single Market, but would also have to accept all of the four freedoms including the freedom of movement of people.

Helen represents a constituency that voted to leave the EU and as a member of the Shadow Cabinet she fully supports this new amendment and says she will be voting with her leader Jeremy Corbyn on it. She also spoke up in favour of two other of those 15 amendments, including membership of a customs union and the right for MPs to vote on the final agreement.

Helen said: "On the EEA we have put down a reasoned amendment rather than simply supporting the Lord's amendment. My constituents voted to leave. Their primary thought was that they wanted to bring back to the UK control over immigration policy and by staying in the EEA that option is ruled out. The whole point of Brexit is to bring back control and not to give MPs a final say on Brexit would be a betrayal. We know already that businesses are holding back from investments and we see that in the NE, across manufacturing, so this is a real risk of Brexit."

PMQs: Jo Platt MP - Asks the PM if she will help set up a national database of ADHD sufferers

Jo Swinson

Jo Platt, the MP for Leigh and the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ADHD today asked Theresa May the Prime Minister if she would do more to help people with this condition and in particular help set up a national data base to establish the scale of the problem across health authority areas.

Jo together with her co-chair the Conservative MP Helen Whatley the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent launched this APPG for ADHD at the beginning of the year and has been working with support groups to not only set up a proper database but also to enable more research to be conducted about it and to ensure better integration of services.

Here Jo talks to Boni Sones, Producer of about her PMQ and the Prime Ministers supportive response to it.

Jo said: "I was really pleased by what Theresa May the PM said. She acknowledged the need for the data research and the Nice guidelines, which I would like to come back to her on".

June 1st 2018

Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson MP #EqualPower

NI abortion reform, women in the boardroom, women and rape, local election results, & MPs and maternity and paternity leave

Jo Swinson MP is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat's and the MP for East Dunbartonshire, having regained her seat in the 2017 General Election. She has recently published a book #EqualPower: And How You Can Make It Happen in support of gender equality.

Jo is about to go on maternity leave to have her second child but is likely to still be in Westminster right up to the birth to enable her to vote with her Remain supporting party in crucial divisions on the government's Brexit Bill when it returns to the Commons. The Lords have voted through 15 amendments which the government will be looking to reverse, so every vote will be needed.

In this special podcast Boni Sones, Executive Producer of talks to Jo about the need to amend the Northern Ireland abortion laws in line with the recent Referendum vote in Southern Ireland supporting a women's right to an abortion, and bringing NI into line with the rest of the UK.

They also discuss Jo's Book #EqualPower, a new report on women in the boardroom, Germaine Greer's recent comments on women and rape, the LD's heartening local election results in May, and the need for MPs to be allowed to take maternity and paternity leave. Jo's husband Duncan was also an MP but after losing his seat now works for a charity.

Jo explained that reforming the NI abortion laws, where women can still go to prison for having an abortion, was not an NI Assembly issue but one for Westminster to vote on as it was a human right's issue. She said: "There is support right across parties for this kind of change, and I believe ultimately there will be a majority in the House of Commons to do this". She said she would be working up until the very last moment before her child is born: "I am 37 and a half weeks pregnant, but we may end up with some crucial Brexit votes in the week before my baby is due so we are still waiting to get confirmation of that. There are plans in the offing to get proxy voting for MPs on maternity leave, so that is another thing I am likely to make it into parliament to vote for and speak in that debate too."

May 21st 2018

Nicky Massey & Katie Thornburrow, take up their council seats in Cambridge

Nicky Massey & Katie Thornburrow

Abbey & Trumpington Wards

Two new Cambridge City Councillors will on Thursday attend their first Council meeting. Both were selected on All-Women Shortlists for Labour, and both campaigned on local issues. Nicky Massey led the fight to get 10000 signatures on a petition to keep Sure Start Centres open in the face of national closures and also campaigned on a host of other issues including traffic flows and garden fences that had blown down. While Katie Thornburrow, an architect, spoke up for environmental improvements: more cycle ways; more electric car charging points; the introduction of water fountains to top up bottles to prevent the use of plastics; and affordable food shops.

Both say Brexit has been an issue on the doorsteps as they campaigned in their respective wards (Cambridge voted by over 70 per cent to Remain) and people are fearful and tearful about what will happen to their families once Britain does depart the EU.

They don't think their selection on AWS is an issue and that more women need to take up and fight for seats at a council level to balance the gender ratio in the UK's political parties in #Vote100 year.

Katie, was elected in Trumpington by just two votes winning her seat from the Liberal Democrats after a recount but she hadn't expected to capture the seat this year. Nicky meanwhile got a thumping majority in Abbey a traditional Labour ward, and is already thinking of how to fight for global women's rights within the UN.

They have campaigned all year long in their wards finding out what issues concern local residents and in the weeks and weekends leading up to the local elections they spent many hours every day and evening knocking on doors and speaking to local residents to attract voters to their campaigns and party.

Nicky said: "We knew where the Labour vote was because Abbey was already a Labour ward but we needed to get the Labour vote out and I also wanted to speak to as many people as I could because as soon as you start talking to people and you understand what issues they have got and how you can help them as a Council you can win them over, and sometimes it is just basic information they don't know."

Katie said: "I knew that I needed to take votes off the Greens, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems and also I needed to get a huge percentage of the Labour vote out on the day. I had a great team and a wonderful campaigner in Kelly Green and I thought it would take a year but we did it this year."

May 17th 2018

Councillors Gerri Bird and Carla McQueen

Gerri Bird

Cambridge City Council Local Elections May 2018

Councillor Gerri Bird is well known in East Chesterton where she is a Labour Cambridge City Councillor and now she has also helped Carla McQueen win her seat on the council for Labour in East Chesterton too in the May 2018 City Council Elections. Carla was elected on an All-Women shortlist.

Gerri is a former Mayor of Cambridge and as someone who is in a wheelchair has campaigned on disability issues alongside championing the other concerns in her ward. Next year she is Deputy Mayor of Cambridge and may go on to become Mayor again.

Carla had just popped round to Gerri's house for a meeting about anti-social behaviour and dangerous driving in the area when Boni Sones, Executive Producer of spoke to both of them in this engaging 25 minute documentary.

Gerri told Boni: "I said I wanted to be Deputy Mayor one more time which I am going to do, which is exciting. I just keep going. I am 63 this year and I still have a lot of fight in me. I am going to fight fight, fight. And my main fight is for disable people. Whatever disability you have you can lead an equal life like anybody else."

Carla told Boni: "I felt so welcomed by the whole of the CLP and this sisterhood in the women is something to be celebrated, we work together really strongly, it is really good, yes. I'm all for social inclusion and giving our teenagers here a positive focus. Our roads are in a diabolic state so I will be keeping on at the County about those issues and events to bring the community together. People building self-confidence building all those things."

May 13th 2018

Tessa Jowell

Remembering BaronessTessa Jowell & what she did for us!

We play again a documentary we made in May 2015 in which Tessa Jowell and her Labour Cabinet colleagues talk about their achievements in government for Labour.

Tessa is interviewed by Jackie Ashley. Tessa reflects on women in parliament, and her two biggest achievements #SureStart & #Olympics2012.

Tessa died on Saturday after an heroic struggle with a brain tumour during which she fought for better treatment for cancer patients. The government has now said it will double brain cancer research funding to £40 million a year.

Local Elections 2018

Clare King

May 10th 2018

Clare King Labour Candidate for West Chesterton, Cambridge: Local Elections May 2018

Clare King was selected on an All-women shortlist to be the Labour Candidate for West Chesterton in the Local Elections in Cambridge on May 3rd 2018. She didn't quite get in, losing by just 111 votes, but three of her other female colleagues who were also selected by AWS did win their seats elsewhere in the city.

This wasn't the first time the Cambridge Labour Party had used AWS for the selection of candidates to fight ward seats but it was the first time the rules had been applied so strictly. Clare was not only a candidate in the local elections, she was also in charge of the procedure committee, the Cambridge PLP General Secretary, and press officer for her party. Sitting on the procedure committee she ensured objections to candidates on AWS were dealt with properly and that enough women came forward to stand in one case pausing the process to ensure a woman came forward to stand. The Labour controlled Council currently has 10 out of 26 Labour councillors who are women.

Clare previously held a seat for the LDs but changed party after the LDs went into a coalition government in 2010 with the Conservatives, and although she didn't get elected this time for Labour, living in the ward she one day hopes to represent, she feels she did close the gap with her rival in the LD party and will one day, hopefully take the ward for Labour. Clare is also a member of Momentum, and supports the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and says the significant increase in party membership has helped ensure a more active party at the grass roots including on other equality issues such as race and disability.

Clare told Boni Sones, Executive Producer of that: "On AWS I like to think that we played by the rules and we did it right. As I say I am delighted to say that one of the people we paused (our selection process) for Carla McQueen, is going to be a wonderful councillor and some day I hope she will make a wonderful MP. At the moment I am tired, I am tired from all the canvassing, and everything else I did. Because of my other roles I had to play a major role in supporting people in other Wards as well, I am sort of the go-to person in Cambridge for anybody who has a query about anything. Sometimes it is a bit disconcerting about how much they think Clare will know the answer. I have a reputation to keep up. I need to take a breath. I strongly believe that women make a real difference and as I said on the doorstep having a bolshie women on the Council is no bad thing for anybody. Yes I would love to get on because there are things I would personally like to do on the Cambridge Labour Group but I am happy they share my views. My big achievement was as a community activist to build a school."

May 9th 2018

Catherine Smart

Catherine Smart The Cambridge LD Agent: Local Elections May 2018

Catherine Smart, was the Liberal Democrat Agent for local elections in Cambridge in May 2018. She is a former Cambridge LD Councillor, and well versed in canvassing, door knocking, and writing election literature. But as the agent she also had to take charge of the election literature of others, the expenses of the election, which are tightly regulated, and was there at the Count in the Guild Hall in Cambridge on Thursday May 4th the night of the count, until the early hours of the morning.

Here Catherine talks to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of about her role in this important mid-term local election, which her party staged a recovery in. It had a surprise win taking control of the neighbouring council in South Cambridgeshire although in Cambridge itself Labour kept control and the LD's improved their position by just one seat.

Catherine requested that Antionette Jackson, the CEO of Cambridge City Council and the official Returning Officer for the night, conduct a recount in Trumpington Ward which was a knife edge win for Labour by just four votes, but originally two votes had been put in the wrong pile.

Catherine told Boni: "In Trumpington Ward there were only six votes separating us and Labour and I asked for a full recount. The Returning Officer said a bundle count which I agreed to, but they found two votes in Labour's pile which it shouldn't be so their lead was down to 4. So I asked for a full recount and they agreed, but it was the same again, a 4 vote lead for Labour so I conceded. The first return was at 2pm but the last one was 4pm, they had two recounts in Trumpington and one Bundle count in Castle and that holds things up obviously, so I got home at 4.30."

Labour now has a majority of 10 on Cambridge City Council - the same as its majority before the election.

The Lib Dems have 14 seats, one more than they had before. Despite losing Trumpington, the party won Market from Labour and Castle from an Independent.

In South Cambridgeshire the Lib Dems more than doubled their number of council seats taking 30 seats in all and ending more than a decade of Tory rule in the district.

April 23rd 2018

Shirley Williams

The case for staying in the EU #Brexit

The LD Peer Baroness Shirley Williams & the former Labour foreign office minister Denis McShane speak to Boni Sones Executive Producer of about #Brexit and the case for staying in the EU. Both were speakers at the recent @TutuFoundation #PeaceSummit2018 @regentsuni in London.

Shirely said: "I think we should be quite willing to say it is not working, and it is better for us to go ahead with the idea of a customs union and come back and think where we go in another sense. ..We accept that you have a single market and a customs union and we then agree to the European Court of Justice as the European Court for all of us that is when we can begin to start building a serious and constructive Europe. So far Europe has delivered no less than 50 years of peace, they have refused to be sucked into wars with one another. The EU has been successful in creating peace with its elder members. We need to think about what we have got rather than take it down and start all over again. ..I am living with the hard realities of life and realising they need changes and new ways of thinking. "

Denis said: "What kind of country do we want. Will people want to have the political leadership to help them think again in whatever form. My next book is called: "From here to BrexEternity", Brexit is going to be for eternity, there are MPs who are as yet unborn who will have to find a way of dealing with the consequences of Brexit unless we find a way of drawing a line under it now."

Thanks to Carole Stone CBE for organising the 3rd International Peace Summit.

April 9th 2018

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Female MPs Part Two #Vote100 Documentary

In this special #Vote100 documentary selects soundbites from interviews we have conducted with women MPs of all political parties about the issues they have championed during 2018.

In Part Two we speak to: Swinson, Hodgson, George, Powell, Miller, Jowell, McKinnell, Throup, Spelman, May.

The interviews were conducted by Boni Sones.

April 6th 2018

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Female MPs #Vote100 Documentary

In this special #Vote 100 documentary selects soundbites from interviews we have conducted with women MPs of all political parties about the issues they have championed during 2018.

We speak to: Spelman, Trevelyan, Onasanya, Onn, Harman, McGovern, Caulfield, Hodgson, Eagle, Malhotra, Onasanya, Spelman, May, Ford, Whately, Cameron, Swinson.

The interviews were conducted by Boni Sones.

Anushka Asthana

March 26th 2018

Dame Caroline Spelman MP

Yezidi Women: Isis Survivors

Dame Caroline Spelman MP hosted an exhibition of art in Westminster Hall today portraying the work of artist Hannah Rose Thomas who has drawn gold leaf portraits of Yezidi women who had escaped ISIS captivity. Working with the Christian Charity, Open Doors, Hannah hopes her exhibition will draw further attention to the plight of Yezidi women.

"These paintings tell the stories of these women and their families and convey their dignity, resilience and unspeakable grief," said Hannah.

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of spoke to Dame Spelman, Hannah, and Rosie Winterton MP, who has visited the camps, and Open Doors Head of Advocacy Zoe Smith.

Dame Spelman said: "It's Westminster women standing up for women isn't it, whose voice needs to be heard. I was very struck when I met the Yezidi female survivors, of the terrible atrocities they had suffered, I was shocked by it. I was keen to help Open Doors with this exhibition and their suffering and the fact their situation is not resolved. Hannah's pictures are beguiling and the women are beautiful, and they are victims of terrible war crimes of our day. She would want us to speak up for the Yezidi women to help get their lives back together."

March 21st 2018

Anushka Asthana

Review of the Week: Anushka Asthana Joint Political Editor of the Guardian

Anushka reviews her week in UK politics. She tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer of about the stories she has been covering including, the implementation deal on Brexit, the election of Putin again as President of Russia during the spy poisoning stand-off with the UK , the election of a new General Secretary to lead the Labour Party, upsetting some in the Party, and the further closure of Sure Start Centres around the country, with impending local elections in May 2018. Oh! and she did manage to squeeze in today's fishing protest on the Thames in support of the UK fishing industry, who were none too pleased with the implementation agreement which means that they will have to accept the CFP of the EU and fishing quotas until we finally do Brexit.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP Brexit protecting our Fishing PMQ

Anne-Marie Trevelyan the Conservative MP for Berwick upon Tweed speaks to Boni Sones, about her PMQ to the Prime Minister Theresa May MP today on protecting the UK's fishing rights during the Implementation phase of our Brexit negotiations.

Anne-Marie had joined other disgruntled Brexit MPs earlier in the day when they staged a protest on a fishing boat on the Thames outside Westminster throwing haddock overboard.

Anne-Marie told Boni she would be watching the Implementation phase carefully to ensure the rights of those fishing our waters and their fish quotas were protected until we finally Brexit the EU and get the chance to renegotiate the sector deal ourselves outside of the CFP.

#SlingTheMesh PMQ

Fiona Onasanya the Labour MP for Peterborough speaks to Boni Sones about her PMQ to the Prime Minister, Theresa May MP today calling upon her to support and join the #SlingTheMesh campaign to prevent further Mesh implants which can damage women's health. Theresa May said she would be writing to Fiona about her concerns.

Fiona also tells Boni about local authority spending cuts in her constituency, a topic of discussion between her leader Jeremy Corbyn and the PM today, and also about the controversial transitional Brexit deal agreed this week between the EU and the UK. There are concerns in Peterborough about its impact on farming but Fiona welcomed the provisions to give EU nationals the same rights to residency in the interim as before the vote to Brexit.

Melanie Onn MP - Westminster Hall Debate Rejuvenating our Parks

Melanie Onn the MP for Great Grimsby and Labour's Shadow Housing Minister talks to Boni Sones, about today's Westminster Hall Debate on protecting and rejuvenating our parks called by her colleague Chris Leslie MP.

March 15th 2018

Harriet Harman

50 years on and Still NO Equal Pay in #Vote100 year

Economist Vicky says why she thinks women have still not achieved equal pay 50 years this year since those Dagenham women went on strike to demand the same wages as their male counterparts in the Ford car making factory. That strike lead to Barbara Castle's 1970 Equal Pay Act.

In #Vote100 year when women are celebrating 100 years since some women achieved the vote Vicky said that women in boardrooms are making no difference to what women are being paid, but that getting more women into senior executive roles in companies is a better solution and that there should be government imposed quotas for this.

"Where we are lacking is in ensuring that women stay, and continue to contribute and they are treated in a way that allows them to have the same opportunities as the man, to rise through an organisation and not get put off by culture. In my view we need quotas for senior positions. If you change the culture, and allow more flexibility, it benefits and works for all minorities and everyone."

Philip Hammond's Statement to the Commons & Brexit

Economist Vicky Pryce tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer about her reaction to the Chancellor Philip Hammond's March Statement to the Commons this week and his optimism over the performance of the UK economy. The debt maybe reducing by Vicky thinks it could all have happened sooner without the Conservative's austerity policies.

Vicky goes on to tell Boni why she is an optimist on Brexit and why she thinks that in the end after all the fractious debates the UK will be heading towards a "soft brexit" to everybody's advantage.

"I think what we have done is the wrong type of austerity. We have cut capital spending, we have not encouraged investment, either by the public sector or by the private sector as a result as studies show we have lost some 14 per cent of national income. If things had been different we would have been 14 per cent richer right now."

"Whether by another referendum, or through parliament exercising its authority, or by Theresa May being very practical, one way or another I think post Brexit we might end up with a regime that is quite similar to now."

March 6th 2018


Harriet Harman

Harriet Harman, Q & As for #IWD 2018

Harriet Harman MP gives her view on getting more women and BME MPs into Westminster and the barriers they face. She says "mentoring" is fine but "training" is not. She commented: "What are we training them for, to become Winston Churchill in the Darkest Hour!"

She is introduced here by Alison McGovern the Labour MP for Wirral South who chairs the House of Commons Works of Art Committee which hosted the #IWD2018 talk Harriet recently gave to Parliament.


Alison McGovern MP talks about Harriet Harman MP the Mother of the House, and those all too male works of art in Westminster.

Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South was just one year old when her colleague Harriet Harman the Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham was elected to Parliament. Here Alison tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer of why Harriet is an inspiration to other women, and why Westminster needs more female works of art.

Alison Chairs the House of Commons Works of Art Committee which commissioned the fabulous Mary Branson New Dawn artwork which hangs over the St Stephen's entrance and just recently a portrait of the Labour politician Dame Joan Ruddock which now hangs in Portcullis House.

In celebration of International Women's Day 2018: Harriet Harman MP Speaks about her life in politics.

The Mother of the House Harriet Harman the Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham delivered her 2018 International Women's Day speech to a specially convened House of Commons Works of Art Committee audience in Westminster today.

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of was there to record it. Thanks to Melanie Unwin of #Vote100 and the House of Commons Curator's Team.

Thanks also to Harriet for being an inspiration to women including her Labour colleague Alison McGovern MP, the Chair of the Works of Art Committee who introduced her. Alison was just one year old when Harriet was first elected to Parliament in 1982. Listen in, Harriet has much to say and it is amusing too.

22nd February 2018

Maria Caulfield MP

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Helping Children with Autism get better care

Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes is campaigning for better care for children with Autism. She is a member of the APPG on Autism which has recently published a report calling on the government to ensure teachers, schools and Local Authorities statement children with autism earlier.

She says if LAs published proper data on the numbers of children with autism in their area it would help to stop them falling through the educational attainment gap and ending up with poor employment prospects and poor mental health.

Maria told Boni Sones, Executive Producer of that she hopes the government will be capable of delivering on the APPG report by the end of 2019.

Maria said: "We have had a very positive response. Our launch of our Autism Report was one of the very first Damian Hinds attended in his first few weeks of being Secretary of State for Education, and he was very positive so my job now is to follow up on that. We are not saying to all of the LAs that they have to capture all of the data by the end of 2019 but to plan for services you have to know what is required and the level. The autistic spectrum is huge some children need a little bit of support some need a huge amount. If you don't know what that level is it is very hard to commission services and to then argue for provision to provide those services."

#Vote 100 - 6th February 2018

Lady Astor

Women Speaking up for Women

The Conservative Women MPs speak about their speeches and debates on the 6th February 2018 as they celebrate 100 years since some women first got the vote.

You will hear Dame Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden, Theresa May the PM, Vicky Ford MP for Chelmsford, Helen Whately MP for Faversham and Mid Kent who speak to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of

We then speak to Angela Eagle MP Wallasey at the Labour women's photocall on College Green, before moving on to talk to Seema Malhotra MP Feltham and Heston and Fiona Onasanya MP for Peterborough in Central Lobby looking at the Acts of Parliament on display for one day only that gave women the vote.

Finally we meet up with Sharon Hodgson MP, Washington and Sunderland West, about her debate in Westminster Hall on Free School Meals and her moving speech in the Chamber last week on her painful experiences after the birth of her stillborn daughter, Lucy which she was not allowed to register and now wants others to be able to do.

February 1st 2018

Emily Wilding Davison being arrested

#Vote100 our Suffragette and Suffragist tour of Parliament

Dr Lisa Cameron the SNP MP for East Kilbride and Jo Swinson the LD MP for East Dunbartonshire and Deputy Leader of her party take us on their suffragette and suffragist tour of the Houses of Commons as women celebrate on February 6th 100 years of women being given the Vote. They are escorted by Boni Sones Executive Producer of as they look at five important tributes to those brave women. The tour begins in Central Lobby as they look at the Grill, then onto a statue, down to the broom cupboard where Emily Wilding Davison hid, and then to the modern artwork New Dawn which hangs over the St Stephen's Entrance before arriving at the scarf Emily Wilding Davison wore on the day she was knocked down by the King's horse at Epsom races.

31st January 2018

Personal Independence Payments Debate

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Westminster Hall 31st January 2018

Sharon Hodgson MP, the Labour Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Public Health Minister, and Ruth George the Labour MP for High Peak and a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee talk to about today's debate in Westminster Hall on the impact of new rules introduced for Personal Independence Payments on constituents.

This week the government said it would review every person receiving PIP after the DWP decided not to challenge a court ruling saying that changes to PIP were unfair. It had limited the support received by people with mental health conditions.

Sharon said: "Some of these people may die before they ever see this resolved".

Ruth said: "This is one change that affects 200000 of the 3 million who have claimed PIPs, but a very small number will benefit from this review. It is great for these people but what we have heard from the Minister today gives us no hope that the government will go away and consider this wasteful and cruel system as a whole."

26th January 2018

This week in Parliament: Maria Miller MP, Lucy Powell MP, Baroness Tessa Jowell

It was a week when Parliament brought to life the humanity of the work of an MP and those in the upper Chamber the Lords. Sexism and charity dinners, a call for criminal justice reform, and the need for better cancer treatments were all major talking points. Here we put into one 30 minute audio podcast our three interviews with those Parliamentarians pushing for change.

You can RT our interviews from or from our twitter account @bonisones2.

Maria Miller MP

The Presidents Club Charity Dinner

Maria Miller the Conservative MP for Basingstoke and Chair of the Equalities Select Committee gives us her reaction to the FT's exclusive report on the President's Club Charity Dinner. The all-male event employed women as hostesses and has led to complaints of sexual harassment against them and with charities refusing to accept donations from the event.

Maria Miller MP said: "It is right the Charity Commission is investigating if they were in breach of the rules. It could also constitute sexual assault. Women don't feel confident in bringing these sorts of claims because of how it might impact their ability to get work in the future."

Lucy Powell MP

#JointEnteprise Debate & JENGbA Gloria Morrison

Lucy Powell the Labour and Co-op MP for Manchester Central called on Parliament to reform the laws on #JointEnterprise. She received widespread support from fellow Labour MPs such as David Lammy, and Stephen Pound. Pound said the law was "nonsensical, cruel, brutal" and that "This law stinks." Conservative MPs too supported reform including Bob Neill and Andrew Mitchell. The debated was watched and supported in the public gallery by the reform group @ JENGbA and its spokesperson Gloria Morrison also talked to us.

Baroness Tessa Jowell

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The former Labour minister Baroness Tessa Jowell received a standing ovation for her ten minute speech calling for better treatment for brain cancer patients. She herself was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier in the year. In a power finale to her speech she quoted Seamus Heaney's last words "Don't be afraid" and said "What gives life meaning is not only how it is lived but how it draws to a close"!

Here from the Lord's Press Gallery we recorded and play Baroness Jowell's full moving 10 minute speech.

17th January 2018

Jo Swinson MP AI and Ethics

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Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire and Deputy Leader of her Party talks about her debate in Westminster Hall today on Artificial Intelligence and Ethics.

Jo said: "There will always be a need for people to look after us into old age, and when we are ill. This is the time to review these care roles because they have been traditionally under-valued and disproportionately done by women. I think that as our humanity becomes more of an appreciated asset because more of the drudge work can be done by machines, then we really need to start to value that human interaction and those interpersonal skills and caring in society."

Maggie Throup MP Junk Food debate

Maggie Throup the Conservative MP for Erewash talks about her debate this week on junk food and its impact on children's health.

Maggie supports the government's moves to clamp down on the sugar content of foods but says advertisements for junk foods should not be shown when children are likely to be watching. She hopes that the presenters of family programmes that children watch will work with her and others to get such ads dropped. She also thinks more home cooking could help solve the problem of childhood obesity which is at an all-time high.

Maggie said: "There is a lot of junk food advertising that is really influencing children and the way they eat. And the obesity epidemic in children and adults is getting worse. There is a huge cost to their health and to society and at the moment junk food advertising is banned on children's programmes and other social media aimed at children, but it is still played out on other family programmes."

Catherine McKinnell MP: Carillion and apprenticeships and childcare vouchers

Catherine McKinnell the Labour MP for Newcastle North talks about her debate this week on the government's introduction of a new system to help parents with the cost of childcare which replaces the previous system of vouchers. Her debate follows a petition that asked the government to think again before making the changes and phasing out vouchers which will cause hardship to some. Catherine also asked Theresa May, the first PMQ on the order paper today about what will happen to apprenticeships now that the construction company Carillion has gone bust.

Catherine said: "I am the co-chair of the APPG on apprenticeships so I have been very concerned about the situation with Carillion. They employ 1,400 apprentices I have met some of them locally but they are now seriously in jeopardy and they are now left hanging not knowing if they will get paid or if they can continue training. The Childcare voucher system has been in place since 2005 there are 780,000 parents currently using it and millions who have benefitted from that support. I wanted the government to recognise not just the importance to families and often women to get support with childcare but also how fundamental it is to our economy and to our productivity."

2nd January 2018

#Vote100 Readings by Elizabeth Crawford

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In celebration of 2018 and 100 years of women and the vote asked Historian Elizabeth Crawford to read from her book: Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle.

Elizabeth tells us about politics, education, the home and culture of the Garrett family and their campaigning friends.

This special documentary is produced by Boni Sones, who grew up in Sizewell and Leiston, where successive generations of her family worked on the Garretts' Engineering works.

The book:

Enterprising Women tells the story of a group of women around the Garrett family, who in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth changed the position of women in Britain forever. Pioneering access to education at all levels for women both in academic and vocational subjects as well as training for the professions - medicine, architectural decoration, landscape design - they also involved themselves in politics and the campaign for women's suffrage. You can buy the book here: