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So that's it then, men can forget it.

I remain interested in the conservative Party. It just doesn't seem to be interested in me anymore.

I believe that I shall now have trouble voting for it, let alone campaigning for it.

Mad Sad and Bad.

In the South West we have Giles Chichester who will no doubt get the number 1 spot.

The other sitting MEP's are retiring so at number 2 we will have woman whether we like it or not.

That does at least number 3 spot for a male candidate, surely?

I expect, therefore, that the SW region will be the only one male candidates bother to apply for.

They can't say they weren't warned. A clause four moment where the leadership has taken the side of the anti-democrats. Since when did modernisation mean discrimination? As far as I can see that is all it means.

Prepare for war.

What is a "procedure similar to that laid down in the Party’s constitution for Westminster MPs"?

In South West resignations and poor showing against UKIP last time at least means that our list for sitting MEPS will be easy;we will have opporunity to rank Giles Chichester as first, first or first.

Then for the next position the choice depends on how many female candidates there are - will there be a double vote for woman preferred against woman or is it just whichever woman gets the highest ranking position leapfrogs to second on list?

Not happy - not as bad as first information indicated but that was presumably a bartering leak; so when some ground was given we would think at least the Party Board had listened.

It's not "too bad". Quite frankly, whether it be a women or a man representing you they are very likely to tow the party line regardless.

Good news. I knew having a vagina would come in handy for getting on in politics!

"Good news. I knew having a vagina would come in handy for getting on in politics!"

This is out of order, even as a man, even I think women are under-represented, and are up against huge odds to become selected instead of a man.

This is unacceptable.

The basic principle of one person, one vote is the only selection process that is acceptable in a democracy.

This is a gift to the Labour Party - it will split the Conservatives, and set member against member.

I will not vote for, nor will I campaign for the Conservative Party if this selection process is implemented.

Any candidate who gets selected under this mechanism deserves to be shunned.

I wouldn't implement it, but it's hardly the great casus belli some on here are making out!

No man in London will bother applying now.

I shall certainly be voting UKIP in the Euro elections in 2009 now, and before anyone says that UKIP will not get the EU reformed, I'm not interested in reforming the EU; I want out. Better Off Out!

"I wouldn't implement it, but it's hardly the great casus belli some on here are making out!"

I totally agree, its not ideal. But I'm not worried about it either. Undemocratic...Maybe

However. the concept that a women conservative MEP would do less well at her job at Brussells/Stassburg than a male conservative MEP is absurd.

I'm beginning to think people are more sexist than they care to admit. Do they rebel because it is undemocratic, or because, perhaps they do not want a woman to become MEP?

"I'm beginning to think people are more sexist than they care to admit. Do they rebel because it is undemocratic, or because, perhaps they do not want a woman to become MEP?"

Jaz, just mention the name "Margaret Thatcher" and most people here (myself included) will burst into songs of praise. It's nothing to do with gender. Gender shouldn't come into it.

Conservatives and people with common sense (the two are often the same) realise that this is discrimination against men, it's offensive to women because it says they can't get their on their own (and if any party has proven that thesis wrong, it is surely ours?), and it sends out the wrong message by making gender the issue, rather than ability.

So bad it is laughable. It's almost weird.
For some reason it reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian involving the "Crack Suicide Squad".

Applying the new rule for women to our 2004 lists and results, this is how our MEPs would have been affected:

In Scotland we’d have Anne Harper instead of John Purvis.
In W Midlands, Jane Doe instead of Malcolm Harbour
In E Midlands, Pauline Latham instead of Chris Heaton-Harris
In Wales, Felicity Elphick instead of Jonathan Evans
In the North East, Amanda Vigar instead of Martin Callanan
In the South East, Thérèse Coffey instead of Richard Ashworth
In the South West, no change
In Eastern, Claire Strong instead of Bashir Khanbhai
In Yorkshire & The Humber, Jane Doe instead of Edward McMillan-Scott
In the North West, Jacqueline Foster instead of Sir Robert Atkins
In London, no change.

So, out of 27 Conservatives MEP’s we’d now have 11 women, not 2. Now I understand why the men are so put-out!

It’s a shame that the Conservative Party needs to be dragged forward this way, but it’s not acceptable that a modern, representative party should be represented by 12 men to every woman.

O give us a break!

I could not give a damn if a women is selected, provided she wins her selection on merit.

Plenty of women deserve to be MP's and MEP's, and those with real drive will make it - this type of gerrymandering demeans those women and their efforts.

This is not about whether a women conservative MEP could do a job better or worse than a man. Neither is it about sexism.

It is about fair play. Fair play for men, and fair play for women. It is as simple as that.

It is not for the Party Board to gerrymander the election process, nor is for them to engage in social engineering.

Labour should have learnt its lesson at Blaenau Gwent - it appears that David Cameron still has to learn his.

The A-List was rejected because it was undemocratic and a bad idea. This bad idea also needs to be firmly rejected.

Jaz, you can't accuse people of being sexist because they believe in choice and party democracy. As has been mentioned, Theresa Villiers topped the voting in London when she was an MEP. I'm more interested in how competent and representative of the members views a candidate is rather than their gender. This decision is an utter disgrace and effectively gives an MEP a job for life no matter how out of tune they are with the membership.

How long before we're filling the positions with former Labour members and Lib Dem donors??

If you are going to launch a "campaign" tomorrow, how about one for getting Conservative activists out on the streets a week before important polls up-and-down the country?

Just a thought...

What is there to stop the party board decided to try this again next time, apart from their saying that this is a one off move?

I would have thought that would be more up to local associations and local campaign teams, rather than in Tim and Sams hands Iain.

Hmmmm.... Therese Coffey instead of Richard Ashworth?? - sounds good to me!!!!

Pauline Latham instead of Chris Heaton-Harris. Sounds very bad to me.

With the exception of Richard Ashworth, all the male MEPs that Fulford mentions would have been reselected for 2004. They were all elected in 1999.

He also shows his ignorance (or should that be sexism). Carolynn Abbot was number 6 in Yorkshire & The Humber.

Fulford is a ignorant and sexist bigot!

Instead of focusing on the headline female issue I wonder if anyone has any idea of what for the reselection "procedure similar to that laid down in the Party’s constitution for Westminster MPs" might be like?

How easy will be be to get the exectutive(s?) to deselect a candidate and if they do will members get to vote on that decision as they do for MPs?

Hmmm......... as ever with this sort of thing the devil is in the details and, since the details are not as yet really clear, it is perhaps too soon to take a hard and fast line on this. At first glance this proposal is at least not as bad as the original NEF nest feathering stitch up.

However even without the full details it is apparent that meritocracy and democracy (normally Conservative traits) have fallen victim to social engineering and discrimination (normally Socialist traits)which is seemingly what is actually meant by modernising as that word is regularly misused by CCHQ.

No point in doing the "poor men, we're being discriminated against" argument. The current system is seriously weighted in favour of men and the present proportion of women is quite disgraceful.

This isn't "positive discrimination", it's a system to reduce the current discrimination.

The meritocracy argument is simply bizarre. People are making the incorrect assumption that the system is fine but comes out with these results. As such, it's meritocratic for almost only men to be selected. Rubbish, if the system is flawed, it will skew the results away from meritocracy.

Let's not get in a flap, I know we all love to be anti-PC, but just like the old system of 'rabble-rousing' speeches for MP selection, changes are a must.

Perhaps the party ought to be a bit tougher with incumbant MPs. This could lead to it being near impossible for bright and creative males becoming MEPs if it's not done properly. If the only winners in the next EP elections are incumbants and women, that is a bit dodgy. But the system changes appear fairer.

"It’s a shame that the Conservative Party needs to be dragged forward this way, but it’s not acceptable that a modern, representative party should be represented by 12 men to every woman."

Remember what happened in Wales when Labour tried to pull something like this? The electorate stuck their fingers up at the whole discriminatory farce. The party that had the only female Prime Minister hardly needs lessons in female equality.

"The meritocracy argument is simply bizarre. People are making the incorrect assumption that the system is fine but comes out with these results."

The old system may well have been flawed but this solution is worse than the original problem. Better some meritocracy than no meritocracy. At least the old system was democratic and didn't attempt to socially engineer an outcome. I thought we believed in freedom of choice?

"Fulford is a ignorant and sexist bigot!"

If memory serves correctly, he's actually a committed feminist.

"No point in doing the "poor men, we're being discriminated against" argument. The current system is seriously weighted in favour of men and the present proportion of women is quite disgraceful.

This isn't "positive discrimination", it's a system to reduce the current discrimination."
Totally agree with your comments Michael Rutherford.

And as for the comment by Lucky old me, it was ignorant and offensive!

TFA Tory, taking the 2004 candidates' lists, promoting a woman from each list to the top, and then applying the 2004 results, the 2004 election would have delivered the results I gave. In what respect do you think I am substantially wrong?

Please would you also justify your defamation of my character, i.e. that I am an "ignorant and sexist bigot"?

The answer would be for the party to have an approved list of candidates male and female and then let the members in each region rank them.

That is called localism.... and responsibility which is what DC said we should have more of in a speech today.

So why are these principles not being applied here.

This is an unnecessary fight that is starting right at the time when the activists should be focused on winning on May 3rd.

Mark Fulford:

"It’s a shame that the Conservative Party needs to be dragged forward this way, but it’s not acceptable that a modern, representative party should be represented by 12 men to every woman."

If applicants are 50/50 then I agree, but does anyone know what the ratio of men/women applicants is?

If it's 12 men to every woman, then the actual candidate figure is indeed fair.

"No point in doing the "poor men, we're being discriminated against" argument. The current system is seriously weighted in favour of men and the present proportion of women is quite disgraceful.

This isn't "positive discrimination", it's a system to reduce the current discrimination."

I'm sorry but if the statement 'the top position in each region below any reselected sitting MEPs will be occupied by the woman candidate' isn't positive discrimination then what is?. And how is the current system 'seriously weighted in favour of men'. Have women been barred from applying or something? How did Theresa Villiers achieve a top spot on the list?

All these proposals show is this party only believes in democracy as long as it brings in the results the leadership wants.

Christina, I don’t know the ratio. However, you have men on this list complaining that men need not apply to the new system, even though there'll still be at least two men selected to every woman. I think it's fair to assume that the previous system (that produced one woman to twelve men) has been deterring women...

This isn't "positive discrimination", it's a system to reduce the current discrimination."

Like hell it is! Micahel Rutherford self deception is usually better left to the left you know, they are so much more practised at it.

What a dog's breakfast. It will be interesting to see what guidelines the selection committees are given to ensure that at least one female candidate makes it through to the final ranking stage. This didn't happen in the West Midlands (and, I suspect, in some other regions) last time around.

The main problem last time was that such a small proportion of females applied to be candidates in the first place. (Around 1:16 in the West Mids, if memory serves.) I suppose this exercise in gender-bending might encourage more women to apply. Of course, it will (by definition) mean that we won't necessarily get the most popular candidate by order of ranking but, given the wretched list system, the relative merits of the candidates is perhaps less important - assuming they're all basically competent (and, of course, prepared to wave a fond farewell to the EPP)!

I think I'm doing a fair job in trying to convince myself that I don't loathe this half-baked scheme!

"Christina, I don’t know the ratio. However, you have men on this list complaining that men need not apply to the new system, even though there'll still be at least two men selected to every woman. I think it's fair to assume that the previous system (that produced one woman to twelve men) has been deterring women..."

Mark I can understand where you're coming from and if you were right with your assumption that the previous system has been deterring women, I would agree with you.

I question the assumption though. No one should assume that less women apply (if that is the case) because there is a deterral factor in the process.

The ratio needs to be known.
Enquiries need to be made as to why less women apply (if that is the case)

Applying positive discrimination without the above knowledge would be ignorant in the true sense of the word.

In my experience of life, I have found many more men interested in politics than women. If that is a general truth (found from proper research) then 50/50 is sexual discrimination against men.

No one dares do the research though, because of politically correct views that men and women are the same in their job preferences.

This is no doubt another idea dreamt up by those in CCHQ which is destined to have men running for the exit door. Will they never learn that the only criteria should be Merit.That, and nothing else. This is coming from a Party which had the 1st woman Leader and PM. She got it on merit and we should not be seen to be patronising women candidates who have to be the subject of a quota.It is saying that women don't have to get selected on their own ability and that is a nonsense.

This is no doubt another idea dreamt up by those in CCHQ which is destined to have men running for the exit door. Will they never learn that the only criteria should be Merit.That, and nothing else. This is coming from a Party which had the 1st woman Leader and PM. She got it on merit and we should not be seen to be patronising women candidates who have to be the subject of a quota.It is saying that women don't have to get selected on their own ability and that is a nonsense.

I wonder what proportion of applicants to be Tory MEPs last time were women?

At least the sirens are going to get the fight they've been itching for.

The irony is that these rules actually discriminate against women by ensuring that all the top places in the regional lists go to sitting male MEPs.

"Sitting MEPs who have been re-selected following a procedure similar to that laid down in the Party’s constitution for Westminster MPs" - gosh, that's an especially piece of honest Cameroonery, isn't it? As there's *such* a valid point of comparison between selections for single member, first past the post constituencies, and, er, multi-member list seats elected by PR . . . oh, wait.

That, Mr Robinson, is an extremely good point.

Mark Fulford: Where you are wrong is putting a woman at the top of every list.

Unless the regional committees rejected any of the incumbents, the highest placest woman on each list (with the exceptions of the three women going for reselection) would have been the place below the lowest placed incumbent.

Therefore the top three in the West Midlands would still have been Philip Bushill-Matthews, Philip Bradbourn and Malcolm Harbour because they were incumbents. There would then have been a female candidate (if one had applied) at number 4 - instead of Andrew Griffiths.

The only region where the MEPs elected would have been different would have been the South East, where James Provan and Roy Perry would have made the top 5 with Therese Coffey at 6 and Richard Ashworth being in 7th place on the list - and therefore not elected.

I'm sure that MEPs will spot the irony that their Chief Whip would not have had any chance of winning his seat if the new system had been in place.

Ok, its not ideal, but its really not that bad, I cannot remotely understand this talk of 'this means war' and 'I'm voting UKIP now'. It seems to me like some people here have been spoiling for something to complain about, or are just UKIP trolls.

This is not the big deal some alarmists are making it out to be. Stop moaning and focus on something more important, like winning the local elections maybe...

I guess it's better than promised - but its still rather hard to accept. I could probably accept one of the top 3 slots being women-only if the MEPs were up for re-ranking by the membership at large. As others have pointed out the new system would leave the South West with Giles Chichester, a woman and A.N.Other - not very palatable - particularly as I've never seen Chichester campaigning at all in my county.

As a matter of principle though, one has to ask why sex is the only criteria where CCHQ feels the need to enforce quotas - why not race, sexuality or indeed social background. Equally it is rather obvious that, with 25 people in the Shadow Cabinet, and only 4 of them women, Cameron doesn't practice what he preaches in this respect. He can hardly argue other female Conservative MPs are unsuitable or too inexperienced for the role - because he is rather explicitly ignoring those considerations in MEP selections.

I would have thought that, given that the South-West's record, selecting 33% female MEPs without any guidance at all at the last election, is rather better than the 16% of female cabinet member he's managed to select...

Unless the regional committees rejected any of the incumbents, the highest placest woman on each list (with the exceptions of the three women going for reselection) would have been the place below the lowest placed incumbent.

Mike, thank you, you are quite right -- in my tiredness I missed a critical "below".

I was happy for a woman to always get the top slot, so I have to admit that I'm slightly disappointed that the changes will only kick in on the back of growth.

Surely the problem here is not the positive discrimination, (something that I am against in principle, but willing to grudgingly accept for pragmatic reasons)

The real issue is that completely useless / traitorous MEPs continue to enjoy jobs for life. Ranking should be completely up to the membership, with no special favours for sitting MEPs.

A brief aside about pro Woman policies.

A man who aspires to a political career, and now faces a more difficult task, is right to feel upset. As a new candidate, he has not benefited from the past situation as sitting MPs / MEPs might have. Yet he is being told that its only fair, because up until today, men have been at an advantage.

Fair would be to put all seats up for re-election with 50% female candidates, as the men who lose out, would be those who had previously gained.

We may need to tilt the playing field for political reasons, but don't blame unsuccessful aspiring male politicians for feeling hard done by.

Seems a good solution to me! I was never in favour of "positive discrimination" towards women - I always believed that the best ones would always come through "on merit" - but sadly it has time and time again proved not to be the case. Hopefully this system will encourage more good women to come forward - and they should not be put off by any sexist behaviour they may find on these pages (or elsewhere for that matter!)

Sally Roberts - Timothy Kirkhope's spokesperson on this blog.

Alan S - I am quite sure all the MEPs are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. I am only expressing my own opinion - as I am sure you are only expressing yours.

How can anyone be happy about reducing the field of talent? This is a crucial moment, but these proposals make me feel very gloomy about the prospects for the new "reform" grouping. I don't think I could have designed more damaging proposals if I worked for the Labour party.

These rules sound like a complete lash-up set not just by a committee but by a kaleidoscope.

Using your skill and judgment can you devise a selection procedure which incorporates all of:
(a) positive discrimination for women;
(b) but which isn't too positive, because we're meritocrats so you may include an element of tokenism;
(c) allows members to rank candidates;
(d) but prevents members deselecting Europhiles (so must include an incumbency benefit);
(e) and if possible avoids the need for expensive hustings (?have they gone?)

Tie-breaker: try to make them sufficiently confusing so that at least one region can get the new rules wrong, or only just look as if they might have got them wrong, so we can enjoy an exciting day in court (because we haven't been sued for months and the Legal Dept are getting a bit bored).

Uncle William's outside bet: if the rules are written up by whichever work experience volunteer drafted the Hague Constitution then they will also be
(f) contradictory
(g) unclear
(h) different in effect to the way they are described as operating.

Looks like we're not going to have the 'hustings' meetings we had last time. I went to one and it's the only time I ever saw or heard of our South-East MEPs (except D. Hannan who is super). It was very well attended, the questions asked were pertinent and the answers told us a lot, and we all voted accordingly.

Regardless of the women issue, the change to a postal ballot makes the selection meaningless if you don't know the people.

Obviously there has to be some kind of pre-selection to keep the numbers sensible, all sitting MEPs should be entitled to appear in the shortlist, but equally the membership mujst have the right to reject or down-rank any of them they don't want.

Nothing wrong with the old system, only very minor tinkering would have been neccessary to encourage lady candidates.

"Regardless of the women issue, the change to a postal ballot makes the selection meaningless if you don't know the people."

We got the chance to attend hustings in Scotland before voting for the MSP's by postal ballot. It seems quite a fair way to do this and will enable more people to take part?

I cannot see how these rules are any improvement on the original proposals. We are being given a chance to rank the sitting MEPs in order - presumably they all have a good chance of being re-elected whichever place they occupy. We are then able to rank in order the remaining candidates - all of whom will be unlikely to get elected.

Even worse our preferences will be ignored if any candidate happens to be a woman. This is an insult to our members and is not a proper selection process. It is merely a sop which most members will rightly think is a waste of time and will ignore.

Theresa Villiers managed to get number one spot in London at the last election without any help.

Tories have always voted for ability, regardless of sex. The problem here is just that not enough female ability applying.

Another bad decision. The last few days have not been pleasant for me at all. I do hope somebody from the party board will attempt to justify this. I had thought after the A list was dropped we had seen the last of this.

Why not have lists that are 50% male and 50% female.

The people on the lists are first vetted by the Party (for their political views) and they produce a selection list on a 50/50 unranked basis. The members in the region then vote to rank all of them.

If an MEP has done a good job in keeping their area informed then he/she should easily get a high ranking. Most have been abysmal at this even though there are EC funds to do it. Lib Dems and Greens in South are much better at it.

The challenge will be attracting enough females to make up the 50%.

Does anyone know how many sitting Conservative MEPs are intending to step down (other than Caroline Jackson)? Given that we can't expect to win many more seats overall, the effect of these proposals, in terms of people finally elected to the Parliament will be as follows (barring unexpected death or incapacity!):

1. Regions where no incumbent is standing down - the mixture as before.

2. Regions where just one of the incumbents is standing down - that person will be replaced by a woman candidate (unless our vote goes down significantly).

3. Regions where more than one incumbent is standing down (there will surely be very few of these) - one incumbent will be replaced by a woman candidate, the other(s) by candidates of either gender, based on merit.

The membership is being conned here. Unless the Board expects a fall in the Conservative share of the vote, there is little point in ranking the current incumbents since they should all be expected to get back in. There is also little point in voting to rank the newcomers, since the members' expressed preference will be ignored if it doesn't happen to be female (and rarely, if ever, will more than one new candidate be actually elected).

On a minor point, if the top female candidate is ranked immediately below the current incumbents for a region and then has the misfortune to fall under a bus (either ebfore or after being elected), will she be replaced by the (next) most popular candidate from the members' vote, or by the next most popular female candidate?

Virtually the only good point of these proposals is the use of a postal ballot of all Party members (ideally, supported by regional hustings meetings). I only wish the ballot was being used to give the members a meaningful choice!

Iain Lindley: "If you are going to launch a "campaign" tomorrow, how about one for getting Conservative activists out on the streets a week before important polls up-and-down the country?

Just a thought..."

Thanks for that Iain! It should be said, of course, that the Party Board has decided the timing of this issue.

Richard Wetherill - next EU election should see a better performance from the Tories so there should be an increase in our MEP numbers perhaps another 8-10. Labour likely to do slightly worse (they had a poor showing last time ) but LDs much better. UKIP without the razzamatazz will suffer but a small chance BNP could get one MEP

I think the weirdest aspect of this, as people have noted, is that it manages to discriminate against women to a certain extent because it protects the incumbents. Let's see - In the SW we have 2 people standing down. In the E Mids we have Chris Heaton-Harris standing down to be an MP. In London Syed Kamall wants to be an MP (I think) but isn't a candidate yet. I guess what we do now is write to the regional committees and demand that the Europhiles be ditched by them.
I personally think that women would have been helped more by opening up the selections wholesale and allowing the members to remove the incumbents.
Without a growth in votes or more retirements, the net effect of these changes as things stand is: one woman stands down in SW and other is selected to replace her. One woman is guaranteed to be number 2 in the E Mids. So we'll have 2 female MEPs in the next parliament. Well that's progress for you!

Ted - do you think UKIP will wither away if this election falls on the same day as the GE? My worry is that it will boost their standing in the GE. While I agree that we fell back quite a bit last time (down 9% on 1999), on a very rough and ready reckoning we'd need big steps forward in our vote, or very substantial falls in other parties' shares, across all the English regions to win 10 more seats!

I agree that UKIP aren't going to get 16% of the vote next time round though!
Actually the more I think about it the more difficult to predict it is. We would kill to be 1.7% behind Labout in the Yorkshire and Humber in a general election - and tha's the result we got in 2004.


I'm not sure what we'd have gained by seeing Chris Heaton-Harris and Martin Callanan displaced in favour of a woman candidate.

It's hard to know what to make of this without seeing the details. As others have commented, it seems to act unfairly towards both men and women, in different ways.

Jaz, just mention the name "Margaret Thatcher" and most people here (myself included) will burst into songs of praise. It's nothing to do with gender. Gender shouldn't come into it.

And I wonder what %age of women were Tory MPs in Margarets time? Not too many, so just think how good the party might be if we had 50% women, instead of dull lawyers and oxbridge politicos?

I don't have too much of an issue with the woman aspect in itself, but the key point, as stated above, is how the re/de-selections of the sitting MEPs will work, and whether there is any role for the membership at large. Also, doesn't that make it "all or nothing"? It may be that a sitting MEP is OKish but not up to much, in which case under the old system he might drop down a few places and only get back in if there is a swing in our favour. This way you have positively to sack him, which is much more confrontational (and incidentally much more likely to be done on primarily factional grounds).

A postal ballot is also more likely to lead to factionalism as what else will people have to go on if most members voting won't have heard them speak?

The connection with voting UKIP is because the connection, and ownership, that members previously had with the candidates they had selected (whether they agreed with them all or not) will be gone. If the centre wants to run it their way, then they'll have to do the whole campaign themselves - we'll sit on the sidelines and decide, depending on how we feel on the day, how to vote. If at the time it looks like it might promote certain activists' views on Europe more to vote tactically for UKIP, they will be much more likely to do so. Actually, if the Euro election coincides with a General Election, they might be even more inclined to do so. An election of a Tory Govt with a simultaneous desertion of its vote to UKIP in the Euros would send a pretty powerful message to the incoming Government wouldn't it? And without any loyalty to candidates that they had had any material part in choosing, much more likely to be on the agenda of at least a significant minority of Tory activists.

Re RobinClash a short way up, lamenting "lawyers and oxbridge politicos". He might recall that Mrs Thatcher was a qualified barrister and Oxford graduate. Clearly unsuitable then in his eyes.

Is this what David Cameron meant when he said the party had to change? That we have to give up on democracy, disenfranchise the members? That we must no longer select on merit? If we get any more 'modern' we will be back in the Dark Ages.

What's wrong with 'trusting the people' and what's wrong with choosing the best candidate regardless of sex, race or religion?

"In London Syed Kamall wants to be an MP (I think) but isn't a candidate yet."

I asked him about this recently at a London event and he said he is enjoying his current job, and is planning to seek reselection.

I think he still wants to be an MP eventually, but he has time on his side.

Certain groups in the party have made it clear that when it comes to MEP selection they're not interested in a balanced slate representing the broad spectrum of party membership, but will do all they can to stitch things up to go their way. Perhaps if those who like ranting about the Party Board a lot would devote some of their spotlights to this the very problems wouldn't arise in the first place!

Oh and everyone claiming that Thatcher's rise had nothing to do with her gender is mistaken. She only got on the front bench and later into the Shadow Cabinet because of a dearth of presentable female Conservative MPs, at a time when the likes of Barbara Castle were at the forefront of politics. Even in the 1975 leadership election some of her supporters used the argument "if she doesn't get a good showing in the ballot it'll make the party look anti-women".

I just hope this kind of weighting does not tempt talented female potential Parliamentary candidates into the Euro fold...

Tim - I hope you include yourself and the current MEP delegation leadership within the people who have made it clear that they do not want a "balanced slate". A ConHome survey in July last year showed that 66% of party members were sympathetic to Better Off Out's aims.

Tim - I hope you include yourself and the current MEP delegation leadership within the people who have made it clear that they do not want a "balanced slate". A ConHome survey in July last year showed that 66% of party members were sympathetic to Better Off Out's aims.

Any woman who gets thus selected/elected should take no pride from her' achievement. It would be based not on any merit she might have (arguably none, since no self-respecting human being would allow him/herself to be promoted over others on such artificial grounds) but only as part of Cameron's trendy-left anti-sexist cardboard cut-out image building.

This has nothing to do with sexual politics. They can easily select Europhile females onto their lists, in the pretence that this is an exercise in promoting feminity. Likewise they are banning deselection of eurofanatic MEP’s, preventing their replacement with MEP’s who represent the views of the vast majority of Conservatives.

Those who violate democracy deserve to be violated themselves. They can disguise their evil trickery in any way they like, but this is exactly what they are – slimy, dishonest, riggers of the democratic process. Execution would be the only appropriate measure for the misuse of the power they have somehow seized unto themselves, as they extinguish the right and freedom of British citizens to live as part of an ancient democracy. Much blood was spilled in the building of acquiring of those democratic rights. It is only right that more will be spilled now to regain what is here being eroded by stealth.

One of the problems will be if the woman who is the next on the list polls significantly less than some of the men who are placed beneath her. This will stir up resentment and promote apathy in the party.
Since we are unlikely to win more than one extra seat in any region only the south west with two vacancies offers any opportunity for new male candidates.
So in summary the vote is to rank the sitting MEPs and choose a woman candidate.

It is right and proper that we have more female representation in the party. All this means is that there will at least one women MEP in each region. This doesn't sound OTT to me. Would some members rather keep the party 'pure' (as they see it) and in opposition rather than having us exercising power and putting into practice the policies we believe in?

CCHQ is becoming obsessed with PC. The next diktat will be that after the woman, the next on the list will be an Asian/or Afro Carribean, followed by an anoth PC person. Margaret Thatcher did not become an MP through an all female list.

Wake up Maude, diktats always end up causing resentment all round.

I think it's vitally important that women become MEPs for the Conservative Party

The current mix in Europe in embarrassing for the Conservative Party, one woman Caroline Jackson MEP, who is retiring then what no one!

The problem comes from a grass roots level, without this forced change we would not select women in winnable seats; otherwise we surely would have already done it by now.

As a woman, and a young one (I know very rare in Tory ranks!) I would never in a million years get selected for a winnable seat in Europe. Not because I am a lesser candidate than any other (in fact I feel that most women would make much better MEPs than the men!), but because us young women have a slightly tougher time with some associations at grass roots level!

Ask most young Tory women and they will tell you they have faced some kind of 'discrimination' at grass roots level, after all I am a woman so what do I know.

It's a shame but some members of the party will never change their sometimes outdated, old fashioned opinions and it's sad because women bring so much to the mix which is great for our electorate.

Let's just make sure the women who get selected are on a par with the male opposition then I don't see the problem.

Change is difficult for many Tories, but a female change seems to be so much harder!!

I agree with you that we need to ensure there is a level playing field so equal treatment is given to everyone but then people get angry because the outcome is that less women get in or more whites get in. There is a massive difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Too many people, especially those in the upper echelons of politics, believe in equality of outcome not equality of opportunity and thats not fair on anyone.

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