Posted by: stelladuffy | May 4, 2016

Voting WE with head AND heart

If you’re voting in London, Scotland or Wales tomorrow and you’re still confused about the ‘why is it the WOMEN’S Equality Party not the Equality Party’ thing, here’s a piece I wrote almost a year ago, when that question was very new and came up time and again.  It comes up far less often now, but it still comes up, so just in case …

The WE question I kept getting asked.

More than a year on, masses of work done, so much more to do, but a beginning. I’m so looking forward to voting for Sophie Walker (Mayor) and WE tomorrow.

As a Londoner I get four votes, two of my votes are going to WE for the many many reasons that have been rehearsed on this blog and elsewhere for years, but chief among them : lack of equal representation for women; lack of equal pay and opportunity for women; unfair burden of parenting, childcare and wider care on women (and the huge value of including men more in parenting); violence against women and girls; unequal treatment in the media; unequal education (esp in STEM subjects – as a STEM to STEAM advocate, I care about this hugely).

All vital stuff, all still to achieve. All STILL to achieve! (Sigh. And … onwards.)

Two of my votes are going to Labour – despite Sadiq Khan’s refusal to answer the very valid questions of Lambeth residents about the absurd and unnecessary closure of our local (and vital) libraries, despite the appalling Lambeth (‘Progress’) Labour council’s behaviour (which promoted me to give up my party membership), I still care very much about Labour and especially the life-long and passionate activists like Cllr Rachel Heywood who had the courage to stand up to her own party in Lambeth against the divisive and damaging libraries cuts.

So – I’m voting WE with my head and my heart, and voting Labour only with my heart because my head is genuinely perplexed about the current Labour party, the divisions between left and right (the right are the ones damaging Lambeth council, many of the left are not helping by refusing to acknowledge in-party anti-semistism), but my heart couldn’t bear Goldsmith to get the job.

There’s a great piece here about canvassing for WE – very like my own experience, so many positive responses, so many enthusiastic men (and older women, LOADS of enthusiastic older women … the carers), so much HOPE.

The Women’s Equality Party has grown extraordinarily quickly, on a tiny amount of money, a huge amount of passion, and a vast quantity (and quality) of bloody hard work. I’m proud to have had a little to do with the early months when it was just becoming, and mostly at midnight, around all of our ‘actual’ jobs – prouder still of the amazing people now involved across the UK in making this difference, day in, day out. In creating a party that doesn’t just talk about change – but makes change, not least by pushing equality for women on to everyone’s agenda. Because, of course, equality is better for everyone.

In London, for the first time ever, ALL of the mayoral candidates were asked about being feminist, were pushed on their position on women’s issues, were asked again and again how seriously they take equality. Deeds not words – WE did that.

I’m proudly here too :



Posted by: stelladuffy | April 10, 2016

Lambeth Libraries Letters

This morning a letter was hand-delivered to my home. This is the second time I have received a letter from this gentleman, someone I have never met, both times hand-delivered, both times about Carnegie Library. I don’t know how he has my address.

The letter is in response to this blog, posted 6 days ago, in relation to the situation of the Carnegie Library and the other libraries in Lambeth, the concern of local people resulting in a 2000-strong march yesterday.

In the letter (as well as asserting that those of us protesting the libraries’ closures are ‘attention seekers’), the gentleman suggests that I have publicly demonised those who do not think the same as I do.

  1. I did not publicly name anyone in the blog
  2. I do not believe that saying ‘I believe this’ is demonising
  3. in the post he is offended by, I am talking about the community of those protesting the library closures. Obviously he and his colleagues are not part of that community, as they are not protesting the closures.
  4. the blog in question has been read by less than 1000 people, clearly he assumes I have a far wider reach than I do.
  5. I have not engaged in or seen the personal demonisation of councillors he alleges, I have however, seen Lambeth councillors block people on twitter for asking genuine questions about the closures, seen other Lambeth councillors speak out about the unfortunate way this whole matter has been handled, and seen Lambeth councillors accuse those protesting about libraries’ closures of not caring about other vital social services.

I do acknowledge, given the many years of service he cites, that the gentleman clearly perceives himself to be part of the Herne Hill community, regardless of views on the library closure and occupation, and therefore of course I am sorry he feels my blog excludes him from this community. I would never want to intentionally offend a neighbour – anyone – whether I know them or not.  (Incidentally, I live in Loughborough Junction, also served by Carnegie and Minet libraries until their closure by Lambeth Council a week ago.)

Obviously I am not the only local person who believes that the Carnegie Community Trust does not represent the community – this is stated clearly in the #CarnegieOccupation demands. I do however wonder, how many others who have spoken up have received a personal letter, hand-delivered to their own home, on a Sunday morning, by someone they have never met, who somehow has their address.

Further, the Friends of Carnegie Library passed a vote of no confidence in the Carnegie Community Trust at the 2016 AGM, stating “They are not a community organisation but a self-appointed group who do not represent or engage with any community groups. This passed by a large majority, the only votes opposed being from the two Trust members present.”

Here is Sara Bredemear’s witness statement from Friday’s court appearance, a document that has been made public, stating the reasons behind the Carnegie Occupation. You will see on page 3 that the statement deals with the Community Trust – and the mistrust between them and other local organisations who protest the libraries’ closures and transfers.

There are some stunning images of yesterday’s protest and march here. I am proud to have been part of it.

I attach a pdf of the letter I received today here, with a request to Carnegie Community Trust that they no longer hand-deliver anything direct to my home. I have blanked his name and address to offer him the privacy that the Community Trust have not afforded me.

CT letter 10.4.2016

I was shaky and upset on receiving this letter, especially as it was hand-delivered by a stranger, to my own home. Now, I simply feel more determined to support my neighbours and community against Lambeth’s library closures. And I’m going to get back to work – Sundays are writing days for me – and libraries also need books.




Posted by: stelladuffy | April 8, 2016

#CarnegieOccupation Guardian video

for those of you who can’t access the facebook version, here’s The Guardian’s most recent report, including footage from inside #CarnegieOccupation

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