FOR the first time in Wokingham’s history, a Women’s Equality Party candidate is standing.
Louise Timlin is asking Evendons voters for their support in the local elections on Thursday, May 2.
The senior director of an international pharmaceutical company has lived in the area for 15 years and is married with two children.
She is standing for the party which was launched four years ago to highlight gender equality in the UK. Its leaders argue that the country has a political and economic architecture rigged against women and diversity with a media that reinforces gender stereotyping and a society that underpays women.
The party has 45,000 members and supporters across the UK – half that of the Liberal Democrats, and 4,000 more than the Green Party. By comparison, the Conservatives had 124,000 members while Labour has 512,000. UKIP has just 21,200.
Louise was one of the first people to join, attracted by the party’s desire to stand up for important issues, which it says include challenging cuts to local services which often adversely affect women, reducing the gender pay gap and ensuring that more women are represented in politics including local councils such as Wokingham.
“For me, there is a lack of diversity in politics. We have a shining example in Wokingham Borough Council.
“The vast majority of councillors are from one party. It’s a bad thing.
“Forty out of 53 councillors are male, so for me, that’s not equal.
“People clearly make decisions based on their own life experiences. Having a variety of life experiences on the council can bring different perspectives to it.
“It’s important to have that diversity on the council.”
Being a new party has meant that Louise has had to start from scratch. With her team of volunteers, she has sent Women’s Equality Party leaflets to all homes in Evendons, and started door knocking last weekend.
“We are quite small,” Louise admits, “so not a lot of people have heard of us.
“It’s been interesting to hear people’s opinions. People have been interested to learn about us, we’ve been piquing their interest.”
Unsurprisingly, the main issues that are coming up on the doorsteps in Evendons relate to development. Louise said that ‘infrastructure is something that comes up time and time again.
“If I’m elected, I’ll listen to residents’ concerns and make sure they know what’s going on,” she said.
And she felt that voting for the Women’s Equality Party wouldn’t be seen as a protest vote.
“The two-party political system is antiquated,” Louise said, adding that she felt people wanted to vote for other parties and backed proportional representation over our first past the post system.
“If we don’t have independents, we’ll be stuck with this two-party system.”
Evendons is a five-way fight, with a challenge from independent Lynn Forbes, Daniel Hinton for the Conservatives, Tim Lloyd for Labour, and Adrian Mather for the Liberal Democrats. But Louise has promised that even if she doesn’t get elected on her first attempt, she’ll carry on.
“I’m in this for the long haul,” she said. “Equal opportunities for women is something I’ve always been passionate about.”
For candidates statements, log on to www.wokinghampaper.co.uk/vote-2019-evendons