Recent Articles

We don’t have an easier time over recess!

by Lynne Featherstone MP     July 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Grrrrrrrrr – so cross listening to the radio on Wednesday morning with Andrew Pierce of the Telegraph opining on MPs going off on ’82 days’ holiday. Holiday? My backside! If he thinks not being in Parliament equals being on holiday, then I trust he applies the same standards to himself – and any time he spends outside of the Telegraph offices he counts as holiday too!

The truth is that for both MPs and journalists the job can and should involve more than being in the main office. Getting out and meeting people, for example, is a major part of doing either job well. When Sunny asked me to write a short piece on what MPs do in recess I didn’t think I would have time before I go away. But I’m maddened by the hatred and vitriol from the radio towards the summer recess as if all MPs do no work during it.
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Anonymous job applications – ending discrimination

by Lynne Featherstone MP     June 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I have blogged several times about my idea to make use of anonymous job applications – so as to end the subliminal discrimination that creeps in with some applications being discarded because of the names on them.

I floated my idea during the Second Reading of the Equality Bill and it caused quite a hoo ha. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development waded in to support the idea – albeit they didn’t think it should be mandatory. Some Human Resource departments were less happy and thought it a stupid idea. Well – it will be interesting to see what they say in response to the evidence that’s now been gathered.
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Why we need more workers in the boardroom

by Lynne Featherstone MP     June 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Tying to put the pieces of the economy and our financial system back together again, it is clear that one of the underlying problems has been the vulnerability of many institutions to lop-sided incentives.

We’ve seen it as its most obvious with dealers – who can run big risks, retire very rich very young – and not have to worry about the long-term consequences, because they’ve long since left the scene. Another example has been in the boardroom – huge bonuses in the good times, and if it goes wrong? A nice little pay off and pension pot.
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Cambridge University’s lacking equality

by Lynne Featherstone MP     February 25, 2009 at 9:05 am

Cambridge – bastion of male dominance – still! So I’ve referred the buggers to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for investigation.

It’s because of the appallingly wide gap between what the university pays men and women. The university’s own Equal Pay Report shows that men are paid on average nearly a third more than women – £37,157 compared to £28,247.

There are two reasons for the gap.
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Digital Britain isn’t ambitious enough

by Lynne Featherstone MP     February 2, 2009 at 1:37 pm

The government’s report into “Digital Britain” – an 81 page pdf – was launched last week.

As an interim report, it would be unreasonable to expect it to have come to conclusions across the board – but time after time, rather than offering up suggestions or ranges of options for further consideration before decision, the report basically says, “we’ve thought about it, and decide someone needs to think about it some more”.
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The roles of Sharon Shoesmith and George Meehan

by Lynne Featherstone MP     November 17, 2008 at 12:54 pm

On Saturday went I on Ken Livingstone’s LBC show.

Most of the time was spent on Baby P, not surprisingly. Just to break for a brief moment from Baby P – Ken said at the end that I could spend the last minute ranting about whatever I wanted. So I did. I made an appeal to Gordon Brown to re-open the sub-post offices in London that he has closed. Having decided to stop any further closures it seems to me that those of us who were unfortunate enough to have had the axe already fall should have the closures reversed.

Back to Baby P – Saturday was the day Sharon Shoesmith received some support in the form of a letter to the media from 61 head teachers in Haringey. Sharon is Director of Education here in Haringey. As Ken put it on air – she’s their boss.

But this isn’t about her competence or otherwise in education – it’s about her responsibility and accountability for the social services side of her brief – which includes having – under the Children’s Act of 2004 – the responsibility for child protection in Haringey. Under this legal framework her and the political leadership side of the equation have the ultimate responsibility.
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Dads have been left out in the cold

by Lynne Featherstone MP     July 27, 2008 at 10:41 pm

It’s all sorts of dads we should be thinking about – not just black ones!

I refer to both Barack Obama and David Cameron’s recently zooming in on the world of fatherless black children.

Now yes – there is a disproportionately high number of black families being brought up essentially by the mother – but it’s also an issue in white communities.

I’ve been a single mother myself since my children were 7 and 12. And two things that used to annoy the whatsit out of me when they were at school were firstly that each year parents got a class list (with contact details of all the class parents) and despite informing the school many, many times that we were separated – it was always (only) my address and number on the list – the school itself was acting as if to exclude separated fathers.
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A nine-word summary of what’s wrong with our journalism

by Lynne Featherstone MP     July 21, 2008 at 10:35 am

“Now Labour plans to bar white men from jobs” – just one of the recent screaming tabloid headlines about the Equality Bill.

What a fantastic nine-word summary of what is wrong with so much of our tabloid journalism: whipping up fear and division based on a fairy tale.

I’m not sure what is worse – believing that the person who wrote the headline was so ignorant of the story they thought it was true – or so cynical they were happy to write it knowing it wasn’t.

Because the truth is there is no provision like that in the Equality Bill. Nowhere. All the Bill proposes is that if two different people are equally qualified for a job (and that is a very big if!), it should be ok to choose between them on gender or race grounds.
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Taking action against Heinz

by Lynne Featherstone MP     June 28, 2008 at 7:48 pm

So – 200 complaints about two men kissing and Heinz – wimps that they are – withdraw the advertisement.

Just when you think that we have moved beyond the bigotry and homophobic hatreds of the past – something like this (or Iris Robinson) pops into the limelight and reminds us that we still have a long way to go to eradicate homophobia. We may have been able to make homophobic behaviour subject to the law – but it is clearly still there in the people – and in corporate cowards.

Would Heinz have pulled an advert if 200 people had objected to it containing a woman? Or a black person? I certainly hope not! But if such blatant sexism or racism isn’t acceptable, why treat homophobia as ok to give in to?

Andrew (a former employee of mine!) has blogged on the subject at his blog – and gives details of how to lobby Heinz. It’s very easy – just an email or a call to their free phone number.

I have signed an Early Day Motion condemning Heinz for their action – and I hope this whole episode does them the damage they deserve.

(If you aren’t a constituent of mine, do pop over to and email your own MP asking them to sign EDM 1889. Don’t worry if you don’t know who your MP is – the site will look it up for you and sort out sending the message.)

Sunny adds:
There is also an online petition, now signed by over 10,000 people, and a Facebook group.

Anyone know what products other than those under the Heinz name should be boycotted?

If I could commission one government IT project

by Lynne Featherstone MP     June 23, 2008 at 8:50 am

I’ve been pretty critical of two massive government IT projects – the existing plans to introduce mandatory identity cards with a huge database behind them and also the Home Office talk of a database of all phone calls and emails made anywhere in the country.

My criticisms in both cases are three-fold: the money involved could be better spent on other projects (such as giving us more police rather than keeping huge databases of the activities of innocent people), they involve a huge infringement of our liberties and privacy, and – thirdly – big IT projects like this are likely to go wrong and to be vulnerable to misuse.

But I’m not a Luddite. Over time I’ve found embracing IT innovations has made my life easier and made me more efficient – whether it was years ago buying a laser printer to speed up production of casework letters or more recently starting to use the text-messaging based blogging service Twitter to help keep residents informed of what I’m up to as an MP.
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