Jemima Khan joins the New Statesman

The writer and human rights campaigner will join us in November.

Following the success of her guest edit in April, Jemima Khan will be joining the New Statesman as Associate Editor next month.

Her role will involve commissioning and writing for the magazine and working on specially curated issues. She will start on 14 November.

Khan's Free Speech special issue of the magazine on 11 April broke two agenda-setting stories - her own interview with Nick Clegg, in which he spoke candidly about the trials of being a hate figure, and Hugh Grant's undercover exposé of hacking at News of the World.

It featured further contributions from fine writers and fascinating public figures including Oliver Stone, Tim Robbins, Russell Brand, Simon Pegg, Rory Stewart, Alain de Botton and Jarvis Cocker, as well as a major 4,000-word investigation of brutality and corruption in the New Orleans law-enforcement system by the journalist James Fox.

The New Statesman's editor, Jason Cowley, said: "I'm delighted that Jemima is joining us and that I have tempted her away from the Independent. She worked brilliantly with the whole team on her guest-edited issue of the New Statesman.

"She is a first-rate journalist who has strong campaigning instincts and a powerful interest in international affairs and human rights issues. She's very popular among the staff."

Jemima Khan said: "I loved working on the guest edit at the beginning of the year and I am delighted to become a permanent part of the exceptional team at the New Statesman. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Independent but the challenge of a wider role at the New Statesman was too tempting."

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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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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