Some very odd things are happening in some of our local councils. Just recently, two women Conservative Councillors resigned from a small Devon Council and changed their allegiance. They are now Independent. Why did they do this? Because the Leader of the Council declared that he had become a Freemason. They resigned in protest against Freemasons, so one Conservative blog stated.
One of them challenged the Conservative Group Deputy at a group meeting that happened before the council AGM. She was unsuccessful in her challenge. I have read that she ‘stormed out’ of the meeting because she failed to be elected as Deputy Leader of the Council. Stormed out? Emotive language. Methinks this Conservative publication doth protest too much.
Her protest was, I believe, because she felt she could not work with a Mason controlled council. She has a point. Why was this not discussed, democratically? Why was she allowed to ‘storm out’? Did she really storm out or just express an emotion? To express emotions is a very necessary way for human beings to protect themselves. That goes back in evolution to long before the days of Mason dominated councils.
Five councillors on this Council are Masons, as declared in the register of interests. As it happens all are Conservatives. I know nothing about Freemasons, except that they roll up one trouser leg and participate in men only rituals, and that is hearsay. Could anyone enlighten me? I believe they swear allegiance to their organisation, above everything else. Does that include UK law, I wonder?
Bernard Levin has been quoted in some Conservative publications that have reported this unfortunate incident:
“Freemasonry hysteria … is paralleled to the same principles as those of anti-Semitism, and indeed it has often been to a very considerable extent a stalking-horse for the more ancient vileness. It could hardly be otherwise; attacks on suspect Jewry have almost always been inextricably entwined with anti freemasonry. Hitler lumped them together without distinction of any kind. Thousands of freemasons from Germany, Vichy France and Nazi-occupied Europe were killed in the gas chambers.”
I couldn’t agree with Mr. Levin more. Any sort of persecution is vile and Hitler’s actions were totally evil. But in printing this quote by Bernard Levin in one Conservative online blog, are the Conservative’s suggesting that because these women Councillors protested against what they perceived was a Mason controlled Council, their actions might be aligned with Hitler?
The Leader of the Council who has joined the Freemasons has defended his actions and it is right that he should be given the chance to do so. I believe this is what he said:
‘I joined the Masons, although I have only been to three meetings in the last 12 months because I have been busy. If that offends people, well there is no politics involved and I have not used it to my advantage.’
That is reassuring and there is no reason to suspect that he will do anything other than this. But the emotive way in which the protest made by the women Councillors has been reported in some of the Conservative press, makes me wonder if dominance by male Councillors et al, is also an issue here?
I remember talking to a local Devon MP last year, who told me that he was hoping that some parts of Devon might finally be dragged into the 21st century. I hope it happens soon. There does seem to be a sense that certain groups have influence while others do not. That is a dangerous situation. Democracy means equality for all and that means respecting and listening to everyone.
35% of councillors elected on 3 May 2012 were women, an increase of 4% on 2011 and 2008, when these seats were last contested.
The increase was caused by two main factors; Labour’s use of positive action measures in candidate selection over a period of 8 years, combined with a reversal of Labour’s local electoral fortunes since 2008. As a result, many women in marginal seats won where in previous years they would not have done.
40% of councillors elected for Labour were women, 34% of Liberal Democrats and 27% of Conservative.
However, the net impact of these results on the percentage of women councillors overall is less than the percentage elected; it is unlikely that, once the membership of all councils has been analysed, the net level will rise much above 32% (it currently stands at 31%).
CFWD’s Director, Nan Sloane, said: “These improvements, though small, are very welcome, and suggest that the level of women’s represntation in local government may finally be moving after a decade of stagnation. However, that improvement is heavily reliant on the ability of political parties to field women candidates in seats they have a good prospect of winning, as well as on the parties which do that doing well on polling day. We would like to see women’s advance being put onto a more secure footing, with all parties taking real steps to ensure that the diversity of local councils continues to improve, and that the rate at which it does so speeds up.”
The report published today is the initial report of a series of three; the second, in June, will deal with the results in more detail, but with particular reference to retention issues, whilst the third, to be published later in 2012, will examine the recruitment, retirement and retention of women in local government in depth.
The report can be downloaded here: Representing Change: Women in the 2012 Local Elections
Here are few quotes from women I think are worth reading:
Feminism is the most revolutionary idea there has ever been. Equality for women demands a change in the human psyche more profound then anything Marx dreamed of. It means valuing parenthood as much as we value banking - Polly Toynbee The Guardian, 19 Jan 1987
The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off - Gloria Steinem
Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently – Rosa Luxemburg. Economist and Philosopher.
….Local Councils, please read the above and take note.