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Transcript of Radio 5 Live broadcast interview between Victoria Derbyshire and Coun.

Eleanor Scott of Portsmouth City Council 28th at 10.42 am January, 2014. VD: Good Morning. A senior Liberal Democrat councillor who resigned after her local party refused to strip MP Mike Hancock of his cabinet position has told this programme: .its awful to be a Lib Dem woman right now. Liberal Democrat cabinet members on Portsmouth County (sic) Council voted on Friday to keep Mr. Hancock on the council where he also sits as an independent councillor after he was suspended by the national party after a report into claims of sexual misconduct towards a consitutent was leaked. Mr. Hancock has also been effectively de-selected as an MP by his local Lib-Dem group who announced yesterday they are in the process of selecting a new candidate for the next General Election. [Brief interview with Nick Clegg is heard] VD goes on to mention that a constituent made complaints of a sexual nature against Mr. Hancock. A police investigation found no case to answer. The alleged victim was currently bringing a civil case against Mr. Hancock. VD: Councillor Eleanor Scott resigned from the Cabinet and from Portsmouth Liberal Democrat Group on Saturday over the decision to keep Mr Hancock on the cabinet. She says there is a misogynistic culture in the party and has complained to the Lib-Dems nationally, and locally, at least five times since she became a councillor back in 2002. Miss Scott says she even took her concerns to Lib-Dem HQ last year but claims the party has no idea what it is like to be a woman in the party. We asked the Liberal Democrats Party both locally and nationally to respond to some of Eleanor Scotts claims but they declined. Lets talk to her now the first broadcast interview nationally since she resigned. Hello there. ES Hello VD: What is the culture like in the party that leads you to describe it as misogynistic? ES: Well I have got some examples to tell you and some of them I cant because its daytime listening. Meetings that I have attended I have had to put up with really aggressive behaviour the sort of rutting season style of behaviour, sulking, shouting, swearing. I have been in meetings where members of staff have been reduced to tears by the behaviour of my predominantly male collagues. And I find it really unbearable at times because that is not a way to get business done.

VD: 2

Was it always from men towards women?

ES: No, er, well my experience is in the context of being the only woman in the cabinet or I was until Saturday, so we have a cabinet of nine and I am the only woman on it. VD: There are other female members of staff in the building arent there?

ES: Yes there are and I find it very difficult to get my voice heard and in group meetings where there are 25 councillors a third of whom are women the behaviour seems to be predicated that he or she who shouts loudest get heard. VD: Whats misogynistic?

ES: Some of the things that are said to me, if I complain that I am not happy with the atmosphere here. I am not happy with people shouting and swearing, inquiries may be made about what time of the month it is for me for instance and I just find that unacceptable. I think there is an issue in my group about why so few women have ever made it on to Cabinet, to a high level, because there is none left now. I am out of my job. Out of this whole sorry mess that has been so badly handled from the top down, I am the one who has not got a job any more. VD: But that was your decision.

ES: It was the only thing I could do to get heard because I have complained and complained. I have raised concerns and raised concerns about the culture, the behaviour, the fact that every time that a woman has got on to the Cabinet in Portsmouth, mysteriously, they havent lasted very long. They seem to get sent off into the long grass. The technique seems to me to invite them to become Lord Mayor. I think I can safely say that every women I have served in the Cabinet with, who is no longer on the Cabinet in Portsmouth, has sat in the Lord Mayors chair it is like the consolation prize Have a parlour, host some nice lunches but dont have any power or authority. VD: ES: VD: What other inappropriate comments have been made to you? Some would be inappropriate over the air. Can you clean them up a little bit?

ES: Well, there is the usual cracks about my hormonal state which is completely ridiculous. People start rumours. People start rumours about me. I have been told things people have said about me which are absolutely disgusting.

VD: What examples. ES: .Things that I have supposedly been caught doing in inappropriate places with some man.for example, absolutely revolting. 3. VD: Untrue?

ES: Of course it is untrue. I mean, it beggers belief that thats the style of keeping somebody in their place. I have put that particular complaint to a senior colleague and other colleagues and nothing got done. Nobody was ever spoken to, that I know of. I never received an apology. It just goes on and on. But I am a pretty robust person, you have to take the rough with the smooth in politics, you have to have a thick skin, I get that, and I am not nave enough to misunderstand that some of it is just political manoeuvring and posturing. But at its heart, what has happened to me and the position that Nick Clegg down[wards] have put me in, is not a Liberal Democrat position; the ethos, should be better than this. I heard the LBC interview with Nick Clegg when he says he took action. Mike Hancock resigned the parliamentary whip at the beginning of June last year and Nick Clegg claims credit for that. My understanding is, and I may be wrong, but my understanding is that Mike Hancock resigned the whip because the deal was You resign or we will suspend you anyway. The point is that was up in London [and] that protected Nick Cleggs reputation up in the Parliamentary Party in London, but what about Portsmouth.? VD: You spoke with the Liberal Democrat chief executive Tim Gordon at the partys headquarters? ES: VD: Yup, to put that point to him. Right. How did that meeting go?

ES: Well it was a long meeting. I was able to finally get in touch with him through Helena Morrissey who was running the inquiry into the problems that we are having [inside the Liberal Democrats]. She brokered a phone call where I invited myself up to meet him in London, and that was one of the points I made, that if a person, okay we are talking about Mike Hancock but we could be talking about anyone, if a person has driven Nick Clegg and Alastair Carmichael the chief whip, and Simon Hughes I believe was in the room also, to effectively say You have got to resign the party whip, why does that just happen up in London? What about the fact that that same person has a position as a Liberal Democrat in another city? What about the people that are expected to work him? I

have not understood the logic of that decision to this day. But now of course Nick Clegg has fully suspended Mike Hancock from the Liberal Democrat party because they claim they are only now aware, in Cleggs words, only now aware of the nature of the allegations, but of course they were aware the nature of the allegations - they were published in The Guardian over a year ago. 4. VD: One of the criticisms towards the party as a whole is the slowness of any response from the party hierarchy at the top to deal with these kinds of allegations. What do you say about that? ES I think thats a fair criticism of the party. I know the party rules are incredibly convoluted and that is one of the reasons but, on the other hand, if the party rules are so convoluted you cannot get justice done for women in the party do something about it. We are in control of our own destiny. We write our own rules, they have not come down from Mount Sinai on tablets. They are our rules and we can change them to make things better and to streamline the process. I am not the only woman who feels that her career in the Liberal Democrats, her career, her job as a politician, has just been taken away, all for nothing, because there is a fair amount of protectionism going on. VD: So, is that your career in politics over because of this misogynistic culture that exists in the Liberal Democrats? ES: Well, there is a long answer to that because of what I understand misogynistic culture is and what I mean by misogyny. Misogyny is not men being horrible to women, misogyny is a structural issue, and it is about womens behaviour towards women as much as mens behaviour towards women. VD: Have women made inappropriate comments to you within the party? ES: They have. VD: Like what? ES: Yes, they have made comments, they tell me that I am too feminist, they are somehow scoring a point against me. I just want to do my job. VD: (talks over her) an outright insult. ES Well, it was a couple of women in the group I believe who started the rumour about me being caught doing something wildly inappropriate with this man in a wildly inappropriate place. I found it really quite disturbing, actually, that there is really no support for each other. It seems to be people slugging it out at the moment anyway.

I do feel..I put twelve years into being on the council. I am still a back bench councillor and I am still a member of the Liberal Democrat Party. I believe people make problems and people fix problems. Thats one of the reasons I became a councillor in the first place, to try to help fix peoples problems. I have done a lot of that over the last twelve years. 5. I do not know whether or not I am finished. It depends on whether I can now actually persuade Tim Farron and Nick Clegg to listen to me, because I have written up a journal of the events of last year and my attempts to get people to listen. I know there are senior party members who have been present in meetings when they have been appalled at the behaviour themselves. They would be foolish to deny it because there is a lot of material on e-mails, for example, where people are expressing absolute despair and disgust at the behaviour, the aggressive [inaudible] behaviour that we have had to experience in Portsmouth. VD: Okay. Thank you very much for talking to me this morning. Ends.