New party leaders need to step up to tackle inequality in Welsh politics, say campaigners

Posted on the 15th August 2018

An unprecedented series of leadership elections in Wales is a unique opportunity to stamp out abuse in Welsh politics – and one which must be seized, according to campaigners.

ERS Cymru have written to  each of the candidates for party leader in Welsh Labour, the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru calling on them to sign up to a series of commitments on diversity prior to them becoming leader.

This would ensure that each of the parties take significant steps forward and follows ERS’s New Voices report, published in July, which looked at the scope of inequality in Welsh politics and found significant levels of abuse in the system.

Among the recommendations ERS Cymru is making to the parties are:

  • A commitment to fielding at least 45% female candidates in Assembly elections
  • The introduction of measures to encourage a broader range of candidates from ethnic minorities, a wider age spread and those with disabilities, as well as monitoring processes to ensure progress
  • A commitment to deliver the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Assembly Reform on gender parity
  • That they commit their party to signing up to a joint code of conduct on intimidatory behaviour along with other parties in the Assembly
  • A commitment to delivering better political education in Welsh schools

Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru, said:

“By the end of this year the people who lead the main political parties in Wales will be very different from those that have been in charge to date. These leadership elections offer an unprecedented opportunity for Wales to take the lead on tackling issues of inequality.

“We know that politics currently fails to properly represent the communities we have. For example, the Senedd has never had a female BAME Assembly Member. Tackling the barriers to getting better representation in Welsh politics could change the very foundation of our democracy.

“In addition we also know the levels of abuse and harassment politicians face are untenable. At present, there seems to be a real lack of appetite to do anything about this.

“These candidates have a duty to step up on this issue and make substantive commitments that could change the face of Welsh politics and make it work so much better for the people of Wales.”

The New Voices report revealed that harassment is rife, with politicians reporting being sent excrement through their letter box, opening letters filled with razor blades, and women being harassed by male politicians.

Its findings were based on surveys of over 250 Welsh representatives, as well as in-depth interviews with key party figures.

Of the 266 respondents to the survey, 121 said they had been abused or harassed either in office or while campaigning, which is 45.5% of total respondents and includes 54% of female respondents.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  1. The ‘New Voices: How Welsh politics can begin to reflect Wales’ report can be found here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/new-voices-how-welsh-politics-can-begin-to-reflect-wales/

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