Bloggers come good

There's an election going on, don't you know?

To my knowledge the May 3 elections was the first time bloggers provided the public with up-to-the-minute updates as the votes were counted across England, Wales and Scotland. But in Scotland it was an election marred by controversy, something the blogosphere will not let go unheard.

18 Doughty Street provided a live internet broadcast as polls closed, whilst Iain Dale blogged through the night as votes were counted.

He was troubled however, by the apparent knowledge of the Labour Party in Scotland who were telling people the results of postal votes before the main voting had even begun. Electoral law prevents the release of information on postal votes before polling has closed.

The political correspondents across the mainstream news networks were also blogging away keeping the voters on top of the latest developments.

Nick Robinson, political editor of the BBC, alerted us to the problem of spoiled ballot papers in Scotland – this will keep bubbling throughout the week no doubt. It appears voters were confused by how to fill in the different parts of the paper. Scottish voters had two votes for the parliament and a separate vote for the local elections.

The Blamerbell Briefs blog kept us on top of development in the Welsh Assembly Government elections. For someone who said he: “returned home to have a bash at being a journalist and as an almost accidental consequence, a Welsh political blogger,” he should be commended.

And finally, do you remember that candidate in Bristol who used Photoshop on an election leaflet to make it look like he was somewhere when he simply wasn’t. Well he got beaten by the Lib Dems. So I guess he is the one with the egg on his face.

As the remaining votes are counted these elections look set to generate more movement in the blogosphere. Tune in next week for the update.

Adam Haigh studies on the postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University. Last year he lived in Honduras and worked freelance for the newspaper, Honduras This Week.
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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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