Deputy Labour leader promotes gender equality in the Welsh capital
Harriet Harman took to the streets of Cardiff today ahead of her appearance at this weekend’s Welsh Labour Conference.
The deputy leader of the Labour Party is in the capital to take part in a summit on women’s equality in politics at the Labour conference held at the SWALEC Stadium.
Speaking before attending a gala dinner on the eve of the conference, she said: “There have always been strong women in Wales speaking up for and fighting alongside other women but the important thing is to actually ensure that our team of councillors is women and men on equal terms and our team of Labour MPs is women and men on equal terms.”
A 2011 Equality and Human Rights Commission report, Who Runs Wales?, found women made up only 18 per cent of Welsh MPs, 25 per cent of Welsh councillors and only 5 per cent of Welsh council leaders.
The report said it was only because the Labour Party used all-women shortlists that Wales has had even this many female MPs. The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have never had a woman MP in Wales.
Ms Harman said: “You need to have special processes to redress the inequality otherwise nothing would change and that is why we have had all women shortlists and that is why we have had positive action for selection in the Assembly because the important thing is for women to know there are people speaking up for them in council chambers in the Assembly and in parliament.”
Against a background of poor female representation in local authorities, Cardiff council performs better than the Welsh average with 36 per cent of councillors being women.
Despite her focus on female equality in Welsh politics, Ms Harman said she was also arriving in Cardiff with a strong message of support for Carwyn Jones’ beleaguered government.
She said: “The Welsh Assembly government is working to ensure that there are jobs in the Welsh economy and that there is growth in the Welsh economy.
“There is a big task to ensure that people have jobs and that there are prospects for business in Wales. They are taking forward that drive.”
But with statistics showing Wales is the worst performing nation in Britain for unemployment, where are the results of this drive?
Ms Harman said: “Overall the Welsh economy is being affected by the governments reaction to the global financial crisis. The austerity drive is making things worse, like cancelling the improvements in the rail line between Cardiff and Swansea which could have provided jobs and taking economics further into the west of Wales.”
“They are working against the background of the government cutting too far and too fast.”
The first thing Ms Harman did after arriving in the city was doorstep Gabalfa homes with AM for Cardiff North Julie Morgan.
The shadow Deputy Prime Minister said: “It will be great to meet people and I might do a bit of shopping as I will be on the high street.”
But with David Miliband canvassing in Splott last week it seems as though the entire Labour top brass is descending on Cardiff before May’s local elections. Is the former Labour leader’s appearance in Cardiff a sign the party is pushing for gains in the city?
Ms Harman was anxious to move on from any question involving the other Miliband brother but said it was just a coincidence. “We are working hard in Newport, Swansea, Gwent. We are working hard across the map in Wales.”