You could hear it throughout the great hall of Friends House last night, a persistent murmur of where's Boris? Why isn't he here to answer our questions? What's his excuse?
The grand finale of Fem 11, organised by UK Feminista was a question and answer session to the 3 candidates standing for Mayor of London next May. The panel comprised of Ken Livingston (Labour), , Liberal Democrats, and , Chair of Green Party Women (for Jenny Jones) and it was chaired by , broadcaster.
We, the 1000 odd feminists (women and men!) wanted to hear from the candidates what they were going to do regarding women's rights in London.
Would funding be continued for Rape Crisis Centres?
Would facilities like Surestart be kept in place?
What would be done to ensure our safety on public transport at night?
Why were more women cyclists dying a year than men and what could be done to provide safer cycling routes?
Some good answers were provided:
Rape Crisis Centres would be core-funded so they would never be subject to bidding for funding and insecurity and the fact they exist would be better communicated to rape victims so that they could be used efficiently.
Funding for Sure Start would be increased and more services similar to that would be created.
Brian Paddick would introduce a stop on demand bus service at night so people can get off closer to their homes.
Wider and more noticeable cycle lanes, for them to be situated somewhere on the road which doesn't leave them in harms way (away from left turns) would be built.
Bringing these 3 candidates together was the feminist cause, a will to demonstrate their passion for women's issues in London. Again, my question is: Where were you Boris, and why don't you care?
A excerpt from Samira's Ahmed blog on Boris' no show:
"It’s become clear that Johnson is a terrific public performer except in certain situations, which he will always avoid. (Like a feminist conference). While there was plenty of humour and banter at Fem11, Johnson would have been well out of his comfort zone. To be fair the strongly anti-Tory mood among most of the conference participants makes the decision to stay away perfectly logical, and yet it’s hard to think of anyone else in the Tory party, who has the ability to take on such a challenge."