Will Downing Street let a cooker in?

On The Westminster Hour yesterday, Carolyn Quinn wanted to know what it is like being a woman in the House of Commons etc. This on the back of International Women’s Day coming up on Thursday and a debate on gender in the House of Commons.

Well – it’s still a boys school and we need more women. As to the atmosphere – water of a duck’s back in terms of the male testosterone being sprayed about. Having had my political baptism in the Haringey Council Chamber – three Lib Dems with me as Leader of the Opposition and fifty-four Labour members (then – it’s rather different now!) – the Commons seems quite sweet. However, there is a lot of pointing and jeering – by any other name at school this would be called bullying. And we are meant to have bullying policies at every school – so why not the House of Commons?

However, was grateful for opportunity to flag up the difficulty I am having with Downing Street. I want to deliver a solar cooker (looks like an oversized mixing bowl, covered with reflective silver foil) to Tony Blair. The point I am making is that these solar cookers cost around $2 and save women getting raped and murdered. This is because in many war zones when women go outside of the refugee camps to collect wood to make a fire to cook – they literally risk rape and murder. These cookers, which work of the hot sun, prevent them from needing to leave the safe compound.

So I am trying to deliver one to Tony, wrapped in purple and green ribbon for International Women’s day – but whilst I have permission to deliver a petition they will not let the cooker pass. I did threaten on radio to chain myself to the gates outside Downing Street (ever since the suffragettes I have been longing to chain myself to something for a cause) but that part was in jest!

But if the Downing Street media machine reads blogs – come on guys, let the cooker in: it’s not too much to ask.

0 thoughts on “Will Downing Street let a cooker in?

  1. Lynne, I heard you – you sounded a wee bit nervous. A “Mark Pack” emailed in to say that Frank Lunz, the pollster, works for the Republican Party. Mark made no reference of his employment with the Lib Dem. His point was… ?

  2. My point was very simple – Luntz is a controversial right-wing pollster and active Republican. So his views about Cameron should be taken with a pinch of salt. A fair description of him is to make clear his Republican role rather than to present him as an impartial expert.As for how Radio 4 decide to describe me, that’s a matter for them 🙂

  3. Well done on the solar cooker campaign – a most worthy cause. But why are you going to Tony Blair, when that can only mean going through the delay, inefficiency, and bureaucracy always involved in spending taxpayers money? Why not appeal direct to your constituents and supporters for funding to show this Labour government how it is done, and at the same time to get those cookers delivered now, and with the minimum of talk?At only $2 each, plus postage and packing, you could be seen instead delivering thousands paid for from your own pocket to those who desperately need them, rather than just one to a man who probably doesn’t.

  4. As appealing as it is to roll shirt-sleeves up and dive around the usual channels – I could not put that together myself and continue with the work I was elected for. That’s why it has to be done either by those in the situation to deliver such a massive project or, you might be right, it could be done by a local group who wanted to take it on. So – if someone like yourself wished to take it on and pursue it – I would certainly give my support for such a campaign.

  5. Thanks for replying. I’m not sure I understand though. Isn’t Tony Blair as busy as you are, doing the work he was elected for?And I hadn’t got the impression from your original article that it was a massive project. I assumed that was why you said they only cost $2 each. In any case, there are already organisations out there doing it. I found the link below very quickly, there were many more. It would appear that it doesn’t take the resources of a national government to deliver aid like this.http://www.jewishworldwatch.org/about/events.aspPerhaps rather than supporting a nobody like me, or asking Tony to do it (do you really think he’s the best guy for the job?), you could give your offered support to a more competent organisation like this instead. That would make for an interesting article – how direct action by LibDems and non-government organisations can do a better job than our current government.

  6. Well – Tony has DFID – and DFID is a massive government department set up to implement major policies and strategies. Yes – of course there are lots of NGOs doing bits and pieces with solar cookers – but the point is that they should be supplied to all areas of conflict where women are in danger and DFID has the power and influence to make that happen. Bits and pieces aren’t enough.

  7. So did you ask DFID directly why they weren’t doing it already as a matter of policy? What answer did they give?

  8. Thanks for pointing that out Mark P. There are a few additional points worth discussing.From the reading I’ve done on it, the obstacle is not really the supply of the cookers themselves, but education, training, and addressing the cultural barriers involved. The $2 cost of the cookers is a significant fraction of their expenses, but getting trainers out to remote areas with little transport for the 5-day training courses they give takes a bigger slice. JewishWorldWatch says it costs about $30 per family for everything involved. If you had full-time government employees doing it rather than volunteers, I suggest to you that the price would rise rather steeply.I’m pleased to see MPs give the issue their support – what I’m concerned about is the method chosen for doing that. If it can be shown that the best and fastest way of implementing this is through the government bureaucracy, and the DFID are not already doing it, and their reasons for not doing so are not sensible ones but political or financial, and you think lobbying the PM has a real chance of getting things moving because the man, you know, cares, then it makes sense to petition Mr Blair.But he wouldn’t have been my first point of call if I wanted something done.It’s not a topic to play gesture politics with, and I’m sure Lynne wouldn’t. But I think it would be more effective to first get something done, publicise that, and then call on the government to better it. I’m not questioning the intent, only the tactics.