I don't have a transcript but he said that there were very high quality women on the candidates list and when by-election rules come into place from the new year (ie CCHQ imposes shortlists of three on Conservative Associations) selecting seats will have the choice of three very high quality candidates and sometimes they will all be women. They'll be chosen on merit and there won't be any automatic all women shortlists, he implied. I can certainly see a great number of All Women Shortlists that would be AAA quality. One that comes to mind would be Fiona Bruce, Chris Emmett and Julia Manning.
So we'll have All Women Shortlists by accident and not by design. Hmmm. If pro-AWS John Maples was NOT drawing them up I could just about believe it. We need to keep the pressure on.
4.15pm: Coffee House's verdict: "Cameron’s comments on women shortlists did, as ConservativeHome notes, seem to mark a bit of a shift in policy. If the proposal had been couched in these terms to begin with, I doubt there would have been such a row — a row that both managed to irritate the grassroots and, in various quarters, reinforced negative stereotypes about the party. All in all, this business has been a poor piece of politics and party management from Team Cameron."