Sandi: Why I quit the News Quiz | Toksvig helps set up Women’s Equality Party © BBC

Sandi: Why I quit the News Quiz

Toksvig helps set up Women’s Equality Party

Sandi Toksvig has revealed the reason that she’s quitting Radio 4’s News Quiz: to go into politics.

The comedian says she left the long-running panel to devote herself to help set up the Women’s Equality Party.

She made her announcement on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour today, saying: ‘We want all our children to be equal, not just half of them. ‘How is it that we still have a pay gap? How is that possible? its time that women after all these years – after 100 years since we got the vote – that women stepped up and took an equal place in society.’

Toksvig told host Jenni Murray: ‘‘I have made jokes over and over again about politics and this election I have had enough, and I have decided that instead of making jokes about it, I need to participate.

So I am involved in the founding of a new political party. It’s called the Women’s Equality Party. It is a fantastic group of women, and indeed men, who have decided that enough is enough and we need to make changes.

‘And clearly if I’m going to be taking part in the political scene, it wouldn’t be appropriate to sit there making jokes about it.’

‘I feel I need to commit to this. I am really excited by it.

’I have watched the mainstream parties blame each other and bicker. I think it’s time we grew up and took a look at the very serious issues you deal with on a daily basis and we look at why women still don’t have equality in this country.’

’Most of the mainstream parties treat women’s issues as if we are a minority group rather that as what we are, which is the majority of the country.’

’And I think if Ukip has taught us anything and the Green party has taught us anything, it’s that pushing your agenda from the outside and pushing the mainstream parties to pay attention is much more successful.’

’The party’s going to be non-partisan, it’s not going to be right or left. It’s going to be a very pragmatic, female approach to things which is to say what is the problem in front of us and say what is the most practical way we can solve this. I want the party to attract people from all sides.’

But she stressed: '‘There will still be jokes. It’s a default position.’

Earlier this week, the Danish-born comic announced her intention to quit the long-running Radio 4 show after nine years, 220 episodes, 28 series. The BBC said it was because she wanted ‘to embark on a new and exciting stage of her career’. At the time, Toksvig tweeted: ‘I’ll finally have time to change the world. It wants doing.’

The Women’s Equality Party is being set up by Catherine Mayer, author and editor-at-large at Time magazine, to fight for gender equality.

She announced her intention to form the Women’s Equality Party at a political talk during the Women of the World Festival in London last month. She stood up and told the audience: ‘Here’s an idea. Ukip, and obviously this is not our model, have stolen votes from the mainstream, forcing leading parties to take their agenda seriously. Let’s form a women’s party and see what happens.’

The party’s key policies are still being defined, although one focus will be to ensure women comprise 50 per cent of politicians and company directors. Its stated aims are: ‘We will urge an education system that creates opportunities for all girls and boys and an understanding of why this matters. We will press for equal pay and equal parenting rights enabling women and men to share opportunity and responsibility in the workplace and at home. We will seek an end to violence against women.’

It will launch in September, with plans to field candidates at the 2020 general election, although Toksvig suggested sitting MPs or peers could join the party before then. Mayer – who stresses that it’s a movement for men as well as women – says she does not want to be party leader.

Toksvig, 56, stands down from The News Quiz at the end of the next series, which ends on June 26.

She said: ‘I feel sad but I think it’s the right moment. The show is in great shape and like a good house guest, you should always depart when people still wish you’d stay a bit longer.’

Published: 30 Apr 2015

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.