In My View - 15th February 2018

BBC Question Time is in Yeovil this week and I hope that everyone going enjoys the live television experience and a sense of the national stage. An enquiry from a local man has made me think about whether the local MP should be asked to appear on the show in each location as it moves around the country. I certainly wouldn’t mind the opportunity to talk about some of the issues that matter most to us in the West Country and I think it would also be an interesting chance to see how their local representatives relate to some high-profile politicians and others. I understand that it is a programme for the whole country and the issues are broadly national ones but of the five panel members maybe one should be the local elected representative. Ultimately it’s a matter for the BBC but one I may raise with them in the future. I would be interested to hear what people think.

The BBC is one of our great national institutions and despite hugely increased competition in the broadcasting world it remains highly relevant to policy today. Sir David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet has seen public awareness of plastic disposal rocket with an immediate impact on our behaviour. I understand milkmen are reporting a rise in demand for old fashioned bottles as we look to reduce our dependence on single use plastics. Sky Ocean Rescue is also tackling the issue and together the organisations are changing the world with excellent journalism.

Where both the BBC and Sky have had difficulties in recent years though is with sexism and opportunities for women. The NHS is also battling a persistent pay-gap and allegations of discriminatory contracts. Westminster too has its problems - of 650 MPs fewer than 200 are women and, of course, there have been cases of some fairly shocking sexist behaviour.

It is a hundred years since the Suffragette movement and the 1918 Representation of the People Act. We have come a huge way in that time in recognising the importance of equality but there is more to do. A campaign which is having an effect in Westminster is called 50:50 Parliament, Ask Her to Stand. Details are available online and if you are interested in politics I would encourage you to take a look.

Much of the outlook we have is shaped by choices in education and that’s why I am a big supporter of girls studying technical subjects like engineering. In the South West we are doing well with breaking down stereotypes with young women locally taking apprenticeships and starting careers in traditionally male dominated worlds. Hopefully it won’t take another hundred years before old fashioned sexist views are truly a thing of the past.

Parliament is in recess this week but resumes on Tuesday. As usual my office is open so if you would like to get in touch about any of these issues, if you have a problem I may be able to help with or if you would like to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries please do email or call 01935314321.