Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 13th November, 2012
During her two years at the Home Office, Lynne Featherstone did great things to promote the equalities agenda, even if she and Theresa May did not always see eye to eye. The Equal Marriage consultation was a real win for the LibDems within the Coalition, and to his credit David Cameron “got” the issue, even if some of his backbench headbangers didn’t. So there was initially some disquiet among LibDems when Lynne was moved in the ministerial reshuffle earier this year to the Department for International Development (DfID). However, as Lynne made clear at an informal briefing to the International Relations Committee (IRC) of the Liberal Democrat Party in Westminster this evening, she has taken equality issues along with her (with the PM’s blessing), and it is especially important that she is able to champion the central role of women in development. She has just returned from a mission to South Sudan, which was rather jumping in at the deep end, though other states she has visited this year include Kenya and Uganda, and Africa is now central to her remit. DfID has of course been directed to phase down its involvement in India (now one of the BRICs) but Africa remains a main area of concern, not only for the traditional problems of famine and disease (including HIV/AIDS) but also for the way that women are excluded and often oppressed within many African societies, including through the persistence of female genital mutilation (FGM). It was interesting that FGM was a major topic in the discussion after Lynne’s presentation at the IRC, but then it is a quintissentially Liberal issue, relating to human rights and gender matters as well as to health. Lynne was a shadow International Development Minister some years ago, so she is not entirely fresh to the field. But it is clear that Africa is offering her a steep learning curve, from which both she and Africa’s development should ultimately benefit.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Africa, BRICs, DFID, equal marriage, FGM, HIV?AIDS, Home Office, India, Kenya, Liberal Democrats, Lynne Featherstone, South Sudan, Theresa May, Uganda | 1 Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 12th November, 2008
Naughty people are so much more interesting than goody-goodies. And few well-bred ladies in the 20th Century were quite as naughty as Idina Sackville, five times married and five times divorced, painted by Sir William Orpen, part fictionalised by Nancy Mitford and Michael Arlen and now immortalised by her great-grand-daughter, Frances Osborne, in her book The Bolter (Virago, £18.99). Frances Osborne — who is the daughter of the former Conservative government Minister, Lord (David) Howell, and the wife of the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne – was the guest speaker at the Biographers’ Club lunch at Shepherd’s Restaurant in Westminster today. She gave a fascinating talk about how she became engrossed in her errant forebear, who walked out on her handsome, sweet and super-rich husband Euan Wallace and their two little boys, to go to live in Kenya, settling in Happy Valley, the land of White Mischief, where she consolidated her reputation as a great seductress.
The book is a compulsive read, but the story of its gestation is gripping too. Originally conceived as a novel, it turned into a family memoir, as Frances Osborne probed deeper into her great-grandmother’s hidden past. The author stumbled on her connection to the subject by accident when she was 13, reading an article in a newspaper about Idina Sackville’s scandals. When she brought this to her parents’ attention, David Howell laughingly said that now her mother would now have to tell her the family secret. It was not easy. As Frances Osborne commented at the lunch, ‘Mother was not brought up to go round saying her grandmother was a nymphomaniac.’ Thanks to several caches of diaries, letters and other primary sources, a wonderfully rounded tale was weaved together. But now the book is launched and selling well, Frances Osborne will proceed with her thwarted original intention of writing an historical novel.
Links: www.biographersclub.co.uk and www.virago.co.uk
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Biographers' Club, David Howell, Euan Wallace, Frances Osborne, George Osborne, Happy Valley, Idina Sackville, Kenya, Michael Arlen, Nancy Mitford, Shepherd's Restaurant, The Bolter, Virago Press, White Mischief, William Orpen | 1 Comment »