Diversity Awards

I am delighted to have been named as an inspirational role model in this year's European Diversity Awards.  I am very lucky to support the work of wonderful activists, campaigners and friends in organisations including Unite the Union, Camden LGBT Forum, Disabled People Against the Cuts, the Traveller Movement in Britain, Women & Manual Trades, Be Onsite, the Labour Party, Trades Union Congress, Camden Borough Mental Health Service User's Group, Rape Crisis and many more.  
Through my work in these areas I campaign alongside individuals who both challenge and inspire me.  Above all, I have seen real leadership within community organisations from people who are hugely under-represented amongst our elected political roles.  These are individuals who energise others to collaborate in making a big impact with limited financial resources.  They inspire creativity and no matter what the odds, find a way to bring a spirit of joy and comradeship to all actions.
I feel very passionately about increasing opportunities for these grass-roots community leaders to share their energy with us on a larger platform.  One major barrier to this is the lack of part-time elected political roles.  Far from being the people with the most time on their hands, these leaders are often the ones who seem to be doing it all; co-ordinating multiple groups and campaigns as well as fulfilling caring responsibilities within their family networks.  
As discussed in more detail in my previous blog [http://www.cmurphy.org/blog/july-2014/diverse-flexibility], there are certain groups who are disproportionately more likely to have caring responsibilities:  Those from lower socioeconomic groups, people from black and minority ethnic groups, women and disabled people ourselves are more likely to be carers for others.  Many of these individuals can and do hold down part-time jobs alongside caring for others - now is the time to open up opportunities for them to apply for part-time elected political roles.
The debate around part-time working and job shares for Members of Parliament has surfaced numerous times over the years.  Two of the main barriers are the way in which these positions are voted on and the link to constituencies.  Whilst I do not believe these to be unsurmountable, my approach would be to consider whether there is another area we could look to where these barriers do not exist:  M.P.'s although probably the most high profile, are not our only elected representatives.  
Within the Greater London Assembly we have 14 Members who represent local constituencies.  In addition, we are represented by 11 pan-london Members, who are not tied to a particular constituency and instead work to represent London as a whole on issues which fall within the remit of the Assembly.  So one of our first barriers does not apply here:  Because the pan-London group is London-wide the issue of dividing constituency work disappears.
Secondly, the way in which pan-London Members are elected is different to that of M.P.'s.  They work very much as teams representing the successful political parties.  In this way, areas of work and committee involvement are divided amongst the group.  So, again the barrier affecting M.P. job shares does not apply here.
I am calling for us to pilot part-time elected roles on the pan-London list within the Greater London Assembly.  How would this look in practice?  The answer is very simple; the next time there is a vacancy on this list, selection would be open to choose two part-time candidates instead of one full-time.  
I would like to hear all candidates in the Mayoral race declare their support for this positive change.  Equality and diversity should be cross-party issues, however I look forward to seeing the Labour Party and Trade Union Movement taking a lead on this campaign.  Increasing political representation fits firmly within our values and vision for a fairer future.
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