Solar cooker day

Well – Lorely Burt, Annette Brooke, Lynne Featherstone, Jenny Willot and Lindsay NorthoverSolar Cooker Day dawned! And you should see the size of the one that we managed to borrow from ‘Engineers without Borders’ – from Imperial College. Thank you sooooooo much Imperial Engineers!

My researcher, Mette, spent six hours sewing green, white and purple ribbon together to make the colours of International Women’s Day – and then she and a helper carted the precious object to College Green (just outside Parliament). Whilst we had been going to do this outside the gates to Number 10 Downing Street, what with the size of the object and the vagaries of the blustery and rainy weather – we opted for a venue closer to the House of Commons.

A stream of Lib Dem Parliamentarians came to support the campaign and so now for International Women’s Day we will present a petition to Tony Blair to ask him to ensure that women in war-ravaged conflict zones are supplied with $2 solar cookers so that they do not need to go outside their refugee compounds and risk rape or murder any longer.

And of course, today is the first of two days of debates on Lords Reform. I just hope that we get a conclusion – and that that conclusion delivers an entirely or predominantly elected House of Lords!

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.