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I hardly think a survey sent out by a Tory MP (and who paid for it?) is likely to result in an unbiased sample of returns.

It isn't the individual women that matter, it is the sense that Cameron is prepared to fight for women to be represented in Parliament. There may not be articles about individual candidates but there are plenty of column inches and TV stories on Cameron's plan to increase the number of women MPs.

It was one of his highest profile announcements when confirmed as leader and all his policy statements show he is backing women. As MPs, in flexible working, in policy for childcare ie options, and so forth.

Conservative Home is against the positive action needed to ensure that men no longer make up over 90% of the Parliamentary party, and also convinced women don't care if they are only represented by a sea of men. But it is very much mistaken and the continuing gain in the women's vote proves it.

Well done to Cameron, Anne Jenkin and Theresa May.

Female candidate, Please show me the evidence that proves that female candidates are more likely to win elections than equally well-qualified male candidates?

I am sure they are equally as likely to win. But the party cannot properly represent women with more than 90% male MPs. That, as I say, ocean of male faces does not in any sense resemble Britain. Women want to see mothers who have been through what they are going through, who understand first hand work-life balance struggles, as well as men on the green benches.

I am not going to keep posting. I am well aware that the majority of comments on ConHome will be in favour of the status quo and against the necessart action to change it, and I will never convince ConHome posters. I just want to provide a voice for the pro-Cameron majority and for the women who are flocking back to the party they recently deserted.

Yes. We do care if almost all those representing women voters are in fact men. Not to see this is blindness.

Luckily, Cameron is a man to do the right thing and I thank him for his courage in standing up for women at all levels. The polls prove him right.

Thank you female candidate. Yours is a long way of saying that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT FEMALE CANDIDATES ARE MORE LIKELY TO WIN A SEAT THAN EQUALLY WELL QUALIFIED MALE CANDIDATES. You may be right that the Cameron strategy is working for women but that is about his green agenda, childcare policies and basic personality.

You may be right that the Cameron strategy is working for women but that is about his green agenda, childcare policies and basic personality.

You accept that Cameron’s strategy is working, but rule out that it’s to do with a commitment to more put women candidates in winnable seats… I think the burden of proof is on you!

Umbrella Man - you miss the point. If the party overall is seen as a male dominated one or white with no minority representation then it is less attractive and women/minorities are less likely to vote for it. In an individual constituency the sex/race of the candidate will matter less as most voters vote on party not candidate basis. So some women will vote for a white male because they know that the Tory Party will be putting forward women elsewhere - if they assume all other candidates are male then they & others (including men) may well vote for a more inclusive alternative.

Mark - I asked female candidate for any evidence "that female candidates are more likely to win elections than equally well-qualified male candidates?" She and you have provided none! You say that the burden of proof lies with me but it is not me who has introduced a profoundly unconservative quota-based discrimination system into a party that once prided itself on its meritocratic credentials. I think the burden of proof does not lie with me. Not at all. Cameron's success with women actually seems to reinforce my belief that a sensitive, compassionate male politician can just as easily appeal to female voters. The Women2Win endeavour is one big hoax and Camereon proves it.

Umbrella Man, the "meritocratic" system has resulted in 90% male MPs. If it's truly meritocratic then you're saying that men are more able than women. Is that what you're saying?

I say better a profoundly unconservative quota-based discrimination system than a straight-forward, old-fashioned sexist discrimination system.

I note you still have not answered my question although your silence has in a way. There is ZERO evidence that women do better than men in target seats. The key quality of winning candidates is that they tend to be local and selected early. See David Burrows MP's analysis.

As for your diversionary line of attack... It is still true that 75% of people who apply to be Tory MPs are men (pre and post A list introduction). So there is a major applicant bias already in the system. The rest of the bias may reflect sexism but this should not be tackled by a new form of discrimination like the Alist (two wrongs do not make a right) but should be addressed by talent spotting, open primaries, mentoring and the like. The Alist has many good women but also many inferior women and that is why associations are using the whole candidate list because many do not have condidence in the Alist.

Mark - I agree with you about the inbalance in the parliamentary party. It is self evident. But it is not an inbalance confined to the Tory Party, but extends to politics in general.

What I object to in the whole gender debate is the fallacy that only women care about or have experience of child care and other social issues.

It is so so wrong, particularly in today's society. I for example engage directly in the nursery education of my two children. I have just visited numerous schools choosing which one is best for my eldest to attend from next year. I have sat in NHS walk in centres late at night with ill children.

But as I am male it is assumed somehow that I have no knowledge or interest in those issues.

It is wrong headed and politically illiterate.

Umbrella Man

I think female candidate did make her position clear -

"I am not going to keep posting. I am well aware that the majority of comments on ConHome will be in favour of the status quo and against the necessary action to change it, and I will never convince ConHome posters"

She is wrong though to assume ConHome posters are unconvinced - think Mark Fulford and myself are not the only ones who accept that the A list is unfair but necessary. Two wrongs don't make a right but can be less wrong than doing nothing.

As an outsider, I would have more confidence in Conservative pro-women candidate policies if Julie Kirkbride were more prominent in the party. The few times I see her in the H/C she is very impressive. Is there something I don't know ?

One of the problems with Julie Kirkbride, f.r., imo, was that she wasted her time as Shadow Culture Secretary by creeping around the issue of the BBC - kicking the very welcome Elstein report into licence fee reform into the long grass.

What I'm trying to say, I suppose, is that communication skills aren't the only qualities we need in MPs. We need a balance of qualities including courage. Not all MPs have to have every skill obviously but I was personally disappointed at JK's time shadowing CMS.

"Female candidate, Please show me the evidence that proves that female candidates are more likely to win elections than equally well-qualified male candidates?"

Umbrella man, some observations/evidence

1. I would be surprised if many men believed they understood womens issues.

2. If the Tory MPs are 90% men, they are unlikley to discuss womens issues, and will therefore remain oblivious to what matters to women.

3. 90% of Tory MPs then understand little of whatis improtant to 51% of the population.

I suggest increasing the number of women Tory MPs, is a "Clause 4 moment", and if we don't grasp it, (and that means associations not just playing Lipservice and voting for the bloke in the end), then we will not be in power at the next GE.

I agree with you that there’s zero evidence that women do better or worse than men. However, you seem to be jumping from there to a conclusion that the overall makeup of the parliamentary party is irrelevant.

Every leader to date has had the opportunity to tackle the appalling gender imbalance within our party. Every other leader to date has shrugged and moved on. David Cameron is the first to grasp the nettle and understand that reversing institutional sexism requires positive action.

The A-List is not going to be a feature of every future Conservative election. It is a short-term tool to kick-start the process and, in terms of discrimination, slight compared to continued inaction.

Jonathan, I totally agree that that many men care about childcare. My justification in seeking more women MPs isn’t to see social issues and childcare get higher priority – it’s simply that Parliament should be representative. If it’s not representative then something is wrong. If Parliament discriminates against women, it’s more likely that its decisions do too.


I don't want to rehash this again, but the principal objections to the A List are that it (a) narrows, rather than widens the social base from which our candidates are drawn and (b) promotes less deserving people over more deserving people.

Is there anyone else bar me that suspects that Umbrella Man is a member of one of the opposition parties? They post on here regularly, always seeking to undermine, and belittle what the party is aiming to do. That is, win general elections, and get this poor benighted country out of the mess nulab has pushed it into.
Female candidate is spot on. Our female PPC knocked the labour majority far further down than the male candidate did at the election before. Will that do for "evidence"?

Seams darn good evidence to me Annabel.

Most women couldn't tell you the name of their local MP/Tory candidate let alone his/her sex.

It may well be that the "metrosexual yuppie" element concern themselves with such matters but they already have two perfectly adaquate PC parties for which to vote.

The idea that these cossetted, well-heeled bien pensants are going to vote for a party which still contains more or less exactly the same number of "reactionaries" as it did the day before Cameron seized power is utterly risible.

Most of them know what we know only too well - that the majority of Tories who support Cameron are only paying lip service to Political Correctness in order to gain power.

An extremely right-wing businessman who is a long-term party activist said exactly that to me at a dinner on Saturday, with the added bonus that he thinks Cameron doesn't believe a word of it either.

The metrosexuals may be contemptible, but they are not stupid.

There are a number of reasons why the Tories have been doing better in recent polls and I suspect that they have a lot more to do with Labour's problems than they have to do with what Simon Heffer terms the Cameron "publicity stunt".

Sean, correct as ever. Let's just make it clear again that so-called "positive action" is discrimination, pure and simple. There's nothing positive about it.

Ted, I don't think that the status quo is/was remotely adequate but "I don't buy the argument that two wrongs don't make a right but the A List is better than doing nothing". There is a perfectly good third way called open primaries, which would bring much greater diversity to candidate choice in an open, transparent and democratic way. Cameron and Maude don't really want that because they want to replace one lot of Spanish practices with another set, implemented from Westminster.

They post on here regularly, always seeking to undermine, and belittle what the party is aiming to do. That is, win general elections,
__________________________________________________

The standard Cameroon whinge.

Does it occur to you, Annabelle, that a large number of longstanding Tories are not prepared to fight an election under what amount to "enemy colours"

I have spent years battling Political Correctness and standing up for the now-debauched rights of local associations. Perhaps you think that brave upstanding Tories like John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy are also fifth columnists?

I am looking forward to the general election after next, when Cameron and all his PC trumpery will be a despised memory.

re Tory Loyalist
Oh Simon Heffer,
Show us the sign
Your children have waited to see.
The morning will come
When the world is mine.
Tomorrow belongs to me!


Michael McGowan is right that there are other ways, but to switch to Open Primaries would be a change too drastic to do without beta testing – which we are doing. Let’s not forget that the A-List is a recommended list, not a definitive list, and local associations have shown themselves perfectly willing and able to ignore it.

I disagree Sean’s objections because they infer that a discriminatory system chooses from a wide base and promotes fairly – which is patently not the case.

Tory Loyalist, if you believe that equality is a PC issue, you’re misnamed.

Fair point in response to me, Mark.....but I am wary of the change being too drastic argument. Not least because I have heard arguments along these lines from Maude himself. I thought these people were all about radical change, not cautious incrementalism. Only when it suits their wider agenda it would seem.

Perhaps you think that brave upstanding Tories like John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy are also fifth columnists?

That dinosaur? Have you not read his paranoic left-wing ramblings about Israel etc on his so-called Democracy site?

"if you believe that equality is a PC issue, you’re misnamed."

If "equality" (you show me an example of it working in practice) involves coercion and discrimination, then of course he's right in saying it's a PC issue.

I don't understand what the party is trying to achieve here. I suppose if you put up a woman candidate, and there have been some very good ones in the past, you may gain some female voters, but you will also lose votes from men and even from those women who think a successful woman is somehow an effront to their own standing.

As for the promotion of ethnic candidates I am at a complete loss. Without for a moment justifying racist attitudes it is obvious to me that in most solidly Tory (ie "white")locations this is simply going to lose votes, not gain them.

It may not matter in a town like Windsor but it could be crucial in a marginal.

It may as you say appeal to the metrosexual set, but they are in London far away from where these problems are likely to occur.

"That dinosaur? Have you not read his paranoic left-wing ramblings about Israel etc on his so-called Democracy site?"

He used to be the Conservative treasurer for this area. Personally I was rather shocked by the unpleasantness of his attacks on Israel which do his cause no favours.

John Irvine, you are presenting a perfect example of why we have to change and why such change can't just be left to happen by accident.

The Conservative Party has and will continue to change. David Cameron's leadership slogan was "Change To Win, Win For Britain". He secured almost 70% of the vote amongst our membership on that platform and is implementing the radical changes he promised. If people don't like them -that's fine; we are a democratic Party and can live them. What is not acceptable is the sheer disloyalty of some members of this site who seem to have ignored Reagan's sensible suggestion that no Conservative should speak ill of a fellow Conservative. I understand that some people loathe our Leader, don't believe the Party should change (even after three terrible election defeats) and praise of opponents (notably UKIP). Such people need to consider their positions - if you truly believe you cannot support the Party, you know where the door is. And ConservativeHome isn't it!

Dear Mr Hinchliffe,

Mr Cameron also won the leadership on leaving the EPP.

What happened to that pledge?

A pledge that was clearly defined in a way that the A-list never was.

In terms of bad mouthing fellow Conservatives you are in no position to lecture anyone.

Y K

Can we ever have a discussion without Europe coming in to it? Speaks volumes about why we lost 3 general elections - and lost badly - and why DC was right to change priorities and the language that we had/used. For the record, the EPP pledge *is* being delivered on.

Mark Fulford "John Irvine, you are presenting a perfect example of why we have to change and why such change can't just be left to happen by accident."

Any chance of an argument rather than a piece of trite sloganeering?

Justin Hinchcliffe "What is not acceptable is the sheer disloyalty of some members of this site who seem to have ignored Reagan's sensible suggestion that no Conservative should speak ill of a fellow Conservative."

Well, Justin, if you're looking for a good example of that, I suggest you re-read your own post.

The far left of the party does not have a monopoly on loyalty, although it's not surprising that they stand by one of their own.

Dear Justin, when you have stopped hyperventilating, can I make two points:

1. This is a forum for debate for those of a centre-right persuasion, so loyalty/disloyalty doesn't really enter into it. If you want an electronic equivalent of the Nuremberg Rallies, try www.conservatives.com. All credit to Tim for believing that the broad church of centre-right opinion needs to be offered a platform for a wide range of views. I appreciate that this may "infuriate" David Cameron but the days of 1950's reflexive deference to a self-selecting Magic Circle of leaders are long gone....and no bad thing.

2. Before questionimg the loyalty or otherwise of contributors to this sight, perhaps you could take a moment to remind us about the trackrecord on loyalty over the last nine years of uber-modernisers such as Michael Portillo, Francis Maude or John Bercow?

This site is "conservativehome", not "conservativepartyhome", J Hinchcliffe.

I wouldn't claim for a moment that my conservatism is The One True Version, but I reserve the right to criticise people in the party who seem to me to be Whigs, Socialists, or opportunists scurrying hither and yon in search of what they consider to be the populist Centre Ground. I don't consider it to be "speaking ill of a fellow Conservative".

I'm much more loyal than you are.

And my brother is bigger than yours!

You swine...Oh sorry, I misread it.

Any chance of an argument rather than a piece of trite sloganeering?

Most people wouldn’t need the argument spelling out. You apparently believe that it’s quite normal for male voters to be turned off by female candidates and for white voters to be turned off by ethnic minority candidates. Furthermore you have constructed an amazing argument that a successful woman is an affront to other women (men are apparently above such foibles). I imagine that you would agree that women should know their limits.

"Such people need to consider their positions - if you truly believe you cannot support the Party, you know where the door is. And ConservativeHome isn't it!"

Justin - if there was a door that led anywhere more sensible than UKIP then I'd seriously consider stepping through it. Just at the moment, it's rather a case of "better the devil you know ...".

Even if I were to leave the Party, it wouldn't stop me posting on CH which, as others have pointed out, is emphatically NOT a site for Conservative Party members only. Just as well you're not the editor and thus have no say over who can or can't post.

A while ago we were told that a Conservative candidate needed to contribute about £40,000 towards campaign costs. Is this just for the first one, or every time? Either way, you're not going to get that many sons/daughters of toil, are you?

Attempting to get back on topic. I was always led to believe that the public generally voted on the party that they thought would deliver the policies that would benefit either themselves, their families, or their society (generally in that order given that true alturism tends not to exist). I can't ever remember being told on the doorstep that the genetic makeup of the candidate was a crucial issue. However, one assumes that until something resembling a policy statement appears we will continue to have such circular discussions.

Dear Female Candidate,
Are you beginning to wish you hadnt bothered posting your extemely VALID opinions on CH???? It seems to have brought a bunch of Yahoo men out of the closet!! Hey Ho! What are they going to do when Cameron is PM around 2012, which will be the election after this next one. 2009 will be anybodies guess - hung probably!!! Then the squabbles will be about who do we link up with etc. Take it from a mere woman, a YC from the 1950's, women have moved on. Its the 21st century, we cant imagine anything worse than a "big clunking fist" to run the country, we dont need a man's permission to speak, even if, once started, we invariably get interrupted mid first sentence.
The party needed a shove to equal things up, and DC was right to do it. The A list will pan out, at the lowest benefit, CCHQ weeded out a few folk who thought they would do a cake walk into the H of C without any visible charisma or talent. At the highest benefit, it has given some talented women a chance.
We are not all "The Devil in Prada"!!!!!!

Furthermore you have constructed an amazing argument that a successful woman is an affront to other women

_________________________________________________

Perhaps like me he's served on a mainly female Tory selection committee and experienced the bitching!

Obviously, Mark, it's something you have yet to share but the fact that vast numbers of Tories active on selection committees ARE women, and yet they prefer not to select women speaks for itself.

As for ethnic minority candidates there is obviously now more acceptance than at the time of the disastrous by-Election in Cheltenham, but it would take a lot to convince me that any marginally positive effect would outweigh the marginal but more significent effect of colour prejudice.

For a start, the type of person who is likely to get excited (favourably) about the ethnicity of a candidate probably won't actually vote Conservative and if you think racists are a thing of the past you obviously haven't heard about the recent successes of the BNP.

Now don't tell me you don't want their votes. It's your side that is constantly arguing that winning is all, damn the principles.

I'm surprised, Annabel, that you have such a pessimistic view of the likely 2009 result. If DC doesn't deliver a clear victory in 2009 then I suspect there'll be rather more than "a bunch of Yahoo men" leaving the Party. Whether he would then survive to be "PM around 2012" is, I would have thought, questionable to say the least.

A lot of people simply don't like the A-List because people who have worked tirelessly for the Party over the years have not been put on it or kicked off. The notion that good delivers and door-knockers will make good Parliamentarians is wrong. Just look at the Labour benches! Once the election is called and the real battle begins and where back in governmnet with really talented MPs, we'll all be looking back and joking at how silly we all were for getting so worked up about it all.

Following an election defeat, I would hope that Cameron would do the decent thing and resign immediately, as did Hague and Howard, each of them worth fifty of him

* we're

>>Once the election is called and the real battle begins and where back in governmnet with really talented MPs, we'll all be looking back and joking at how silly we all were for getting so worked up about it all.<<

Justin, you're having a laugh.

The appalling and disgusting A list will be remembered for some wimpish little soap star with a cute bottom, a bonkbuster novelist, and an assorted bunch of turncoats who crawled out of the LibLab sewer.

It's probably the greatest disgrace in the history of the Conservative Party.

Tory Loyalist, nice time to forget your principles. I’m going to leave it that I believe you are so bigoted and disagree with you so totally that there is absolutely no point in arguing with you.

Cameron's popularity as reported by Philip Dunne MP Ludlow and many polls should not be confused with Conservative popularity. The Conservative brand is still struggling while the Cameron brand lifts.

Gord Brown knows that there is a weakness here, and he also knows that most men are more tribal in their politics than women. If he can colour in the Conservative label as a negative - toffs without balls - he could defeat Cameron.

The changes to the Conservative Party, much heralded by modernisers are in danger of missing the point. If we had a sprouting of working class regional accents in senior positions, and not another bunch of public school 1970's Maude clones, Gordon Brown would find it harder to exploit the situation. The modernisers are the ones who need to modernise.

Well, I think you're all wrong.

"Our female PPC knocked the labour majority far further down than the male candidate did at the election before. Will that do for "evidence"?" 12:05

Strictly speaking it doesn't, given the political climate in the country had altered from 2001 to 2005 and hence the greatly reduced Labour majority. Such comparisons are very difficult to make, albeit that I do accept that you might well have had a far superior female candidate compared to the previous male one.

Personally, and I might be wrong, I feel the problem with the argument about male/female candidates is the assumption that at the moment an equal proportion of men and women in our population have a desire to become MPs, I suggest that that is not the case. One can of course argue that if more women were in Parliament, more women would want to become MPs, and I do accept that argument.

Of course there is a thought that the wisest and maybe the most able women see that they can make a far better contribution to the country by doing something other than becoming an MP......that is of course if their pathway is not blocked by men. ;)

"Most of them know what we know only too well - that the majority of Tories who support Cameron are only paying lip service to Political Correctness in order to gain power.

An extremely right-wing businessman who is a long-term party activist said exactly that to me at a dinner on Saturday, with the added bonus that he thinks Cameron doesn't believe a word of it either.

The metrosexuals may be contemptible, but they are not stupid". Posted by Tory Loyalist.

So Cameron is a Tory in sheeps clothing?
Well I would like to believe you, but if that is the case, then Norman Tebbit (has Norman got a windmill on his roof), some members of the Cornerstone group and eurosceptics in the Party have not been let into this cynical secret. Why not?

Maybe the 15:57 poster would have credibility if they posted in their own name, ditto a few others as well. ;)

Following on from which, why shouldn't an actor or a writer make a good MP, after all a large part of the job is about being able to communicate effectively with constituents, seems to me that career politicians, barristers and college lecturers etc haven't done that well for the country.

When I survey the House of Commons and see the political energy, the charisma, the leadership, the intellectual power, dignity and morality radiating from the Conservative benches I say, why change a winning system ? It is inconceivable that women MPs could do better.

Editor, here is a story you may have missed.
The French version of Winning with Women in today's Telegraph. Please read and inwardly digest.

Ségolène urges Britain to choose between Europe and America.

She believes that as far as Britain is concerned the Channel is wider that the Atlantic. More ammunition for the Better Out then In Party.

Mark Fulford:
"Tory Loyalist, if you believe that equality is a PC issue, you’re misnamed"

1. Mandating equality of opportunity is classical liberalism, not PC.

2. Mandating equality of outcome is Marxism, in this case cultural Marxism, aka PC.

As far as I can tell the party leadership is addressing a perceived lack of equality of opportunity by mandating equality of outcome, through discrimination in favour of female candidates. My impression is that there are a good number of strong female candidates and at current selection levels this won't result in female PPCs noticeably inferior to the male PPCs (the Blair Babe phenonomenon); but if the discrimination were any stronger this would certainly be a danger.

Eeeh you're a little tease Savonarola, 16.27
;):D

Skirts on the backbenches are acceptable. I served with many fine soldiers who wore skirts. Admittedly, most were hulking Scotsmen with legs like a mature orang-utan...

The A-list serves its purpose – it boosts morale and, as long as there is fine leadership from the chap at the top, shouldn’t do any harm. A chap has to look at something if he’s stuck in the House ‘til 11pm of an evening and, frankly, before the A-list, the pickings were meagre indeed.

Even Margaret Hodge was beginning to look promising…

Strictly speaking it doesn't, given the political climate in the country had altered from 2001 to 2005 and hence the greatly reduced Labour majority. Such comparisons are very difficult to make, albeit that I do accept that you might well have had a far superior female candidate compared to the previous male one.

Comparisons are are difficult to make but it at least stands in her favour that Maggie Throup (the candidate in question) bucked the regional trend of a -1.7% swing away from Conservative with a personal swing of +2.3%.

As far as I can tell the party leadership is addressing a perceived lack of equality of opportunity by mandating equality of outcome, through discrimination in favour of female candidates.

I agree with your analysis – but CCHQ is adjusting opportunity not the outcome. Associations still get to interview whoever they want and still make their own decisions.

Mark, they are not creating equality of opportunity: CCHQ are deliberately engineering inequality of opportunity.....as many perfectly good white male candidates have discovered to their cost. I am no fan of what passed before as a selection procedure but this is a badly botched compromise by any standards.

Justin Hinchcliffe is a prime example of what is currently wrong with the Party. Blind loyalty is the worst form of loyalty. If any of us speak out and object to the changes this Party is going through, we get told the opinion polls are increasing and that we should bow to our Dear Leader for the acheivements. The fact is that we are polling in the 38% area, which is a hung Parliament if we are lucky. Our policies arent well thought out and do not fit a framework. The policies are stretching the Party by looking to the left and the right at the same time. Being everyones best friend is impossible and when will Cameron realise this? Telling people to stop objecting when they have perfectly reasonable objections is ignoring the problem. You can be loyal to the Party whilst questioning what the Patry is doing.

Michael, I disagree with you. Its not equality of opportunity Cameron is looking for. Its equality of outcome, which is worse. Social engineering isnt about equal opportunity. Its about equal outcome. It is clearly a socialist trait. Scary to think that Camerons policies fit less a conservative framework than they do the Socialist International principles...

Wait a sec...I was agreeing with Michael. Duh! I was disagreeing with Mark. Its not adjusting. Its engineering through threats.

Mandating equality of opportunity is classical liberalism, not PC.
_________________________________________________

Actually Simon I don't agree with that, although I support the rest of what yousay.

Mandating equality of opportunity in the civil service, armed forces etc is entirely correct in a democratic society, although there is little sign that this has ever percolated into such institution as the Brigade of Guards, which we all pay to maintain.

Mandating equality of opportunity by statute within private businesses and other non-governmental bodies is an abuse of power. It is a negation of liberal, let alone conservative principles.

And with quasi-Marxist opinions such as the weasel-line "CCHQ is adjusting opportunity not the outcome" it's not surprising that Mr Fulford prefers flight to debate.

James Maskell and Mark Fulford disagree and argue passionately for their beliefs - I'm more on Mark's side in this argument but at least they are both open and honest and passionate about the party and it's future.

Consider the following postings from so called Tory Loyalist (NuLab troll?):

"Conservatives believe in a pyramidal social structure with God and the monarch at its apex and the various other elements of society reaching downwards towards the base."

"doesn't that mean we're still the Nasty Party, indeed the same thoroughly unpleasant party which betrayed the saviour of our country,"

"The majority of Tories who support Cameron are only paying lip service to Political Correctness in order to gain power."

"An extremely right-wing businessman who is a long-term party activist ... with the added bonus that he thinks Cameron doesn't believe a word of it either."

"Perhaps like me he's served on a mainly female Tory selection committee and experienced the bitching!"

"As for ethnic minority candidates.... the disastrous by-Election in Cheltenham"

"little sign that this has ever percolated into such institution as the Brigade of Guards, which we all pay to maintain."

I see you believe in playing the man rather than the ball, Ted, but I can well understand why you would like to believe that I am something other than the thoroughly disillusioned Conservative Party member that I am.

Since you have taken time out to make such an impressive collection of my quotations maybe you would like to tell us which you disagree with as to matters of fact and what internal inconsistencies you find as to matters of opinion.

I am an occasional contributor to Roger Scruton's Salisbury Review, which is generally held to be a Conservative journal. I think you will find little else in there that differs widely from my "High Tory" opinions which seem to upset you so much.

Boys, boys boys, your bickering is giving me a headache!

As a young woman, I generally disagree with any form of discrimination (+ve or -ve), and I am saddened by the A list.

HOWEVER, the make up of the party does need to be changed. As has been stated above 90% white male cannot represent ethnic minorities or women as well as the actual people themselves. This doesn't mean it has to be proportionately spot on, but there is room for change.

Aside from the representation issue, women often have a different way of viewing things or going about things to men. I can say this from experience as I am on the committee of my local Conservative Future branch which is me and 10 boys. I will often bring up something that has been overlooked or not thought of. I am NOT saying I am better than them, but just different with different things to offer.
Having more women in the parliamentary party would benefit us wholly, not because women get a bigger swing or win seats more easily (I think it would be impossible to prove this anyway so you may as well all stop talking about it), but because we all have slightly different things to offer.

What disappoints me about the A List is that like has already been said, there are some candidates on there that may not be of top quality. I personally think that a pre-requisite should have been that you had previously fought at least one unwinnable seat and/or been a councillor etc. I think this would have helped the credibility of the list. Although I do think all in all the A List is a flawed idea which has caused a lot of annoyance among loyal supporters which is a shame.

Tory Loyalist:
"Mandating equality of opportunity by statute within private businesses and other non-governmental bodies is an abuse of power. It is a negation of liberal, let alone conservative principles."

I take your point, but equality of opportunity without regard to a particular outcome is a liberal rather than socialist principle. Of course mandating equal treatment of job candidates reduces freedom of the employer, as you say, so liberals engage in a balancing act between the two interests. Typically this results in employment law where once a company reaches a certain size it's not allowed to discriminate.

Actually I do agree that there is a striking imbalance in the number of women MPs (not just Tory ones). I can think of a large number of reasons why there are proportionately fewer Tory women MPs now than there were say 30 years ago.

I will give two. Firstly the kind of lady bountiful hatted type who used to sit on the Tory women's committees now barely exists. There were plenty of that type who became MPs in middle age with the support of CCO.

Secondly, few successful people of either sex now wish to be MPs, and anyway they cannot afford the loss of earnings. Since the number of highly successful businesswomen is considerably fewer than the corresponding number of men it's obvious that the minority who want to enter politics will be smaller still.

Women have always received special encouragement in the party. It was so when I joined in the 1970s and I understand that this was the case even in the 1920s and 30s.

This rather paternalistic "favouritism" really didn't matter as long as it didn't blatantly discriminate against other talented candidates.

The A list does so discriminate, and it does so in a vain attempt to impress a section of society who are no friends of ours, and no friends of our country either.

Will Tory Loyalist et al please get ready to choke on their G and T's.
Both Joanne Cash AND Priti Patel have been selected!!!! Up the girls!!!!!

Let's play Conservative Home bingo.

You get a point every time someone says

"playing the man rather than the ball"

with extra points if it's said from a frankly amusing position of moral superiority, given the gap between the self-perceived status of the writer and what s/he has revealed about her/himself through style and content of post.

You get another point if someone works in a reference to Europe, regardless of the topic. Two points if the poster murmurs fondly about UKIP, in a "more in sorrow than in anger" tone, which they imagine to be appealing, but which is of course revealing.

Another point if [name deleted] pens a hysterical ad hominem attack on DC, regardless of topic. You can pause here to giggle at the gap between the constant personal attacks on DC and the likewise constant complaints that the non-dinosaurs sometimes use funny language to describe their blogging opponents.

You get a whole row or column for statements about the A-list being the greatest threat to British society since the fall of the Raj. Personal narrative recrafted as universal law sadly gets no points - just have another giggle.

Oh! House!

Graeme, that is a brilliant assessment! It would be funnier still if it wasn't so very true!!!

Annabel - I agree with you totally - but I think maybe you could phrase it differently?!

Hilarious Graeme. Had me in stiches.

Ever thought about actually arguing your case.

Oh sorry. I forgot you didn't have one.

Graeme - how many points does Jamie Oliver's Sausage get for that contribution?

Jamie Oliver's Sausage: yep, there's the frankly amusing position of moral superiority inherent in your sneery tone.

Line! What do I win?

"moral superiority" ... Graeme Archer's post ... pots ... kettles ...

I guess it's about time this thread was put out of its misery.

Oh Richard!! As Hyacynth Bucket would say. Why cant you just accept that the constituencies are selecting on merit, whether the candidates are female, male, black white or khaki. And the last two to call have done just that. Congrats to Joanne and Pritti.

Annabel, why do you assume I have any reservations about the selection of either Joanne or Priti? I haven't been following these particular contests all that closely, but have no doubt that they were both selected on merit. I'm delighted for both of them.

The point of my previous post was simply to point out that Graeme's contribution too reeks of the "moral superiority" that he purports to despise - even if he doesn't seem to realise it. (Now how's that for a "morally superior" sneer?!)

Will Tory Loyalist et al please get ready to choke on their G and T's.
Both Joanne Cash AND Priti Patel have been selected!!!! Up the girls!!!!!
__________________________________________________

On the contrary, Annabel, I am delighted that the charming and very able Priti Patel has been selected.

When I met her some years ago she was working for the late Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum campaign, and the fact that she has also worked with William Hague is very much in her favour.

Having reviewed the "opposition" candidates she defeated I have no doubt that I too would have voted for.

I don'r know Joanne Cash, but if she is Bill Cash's daughter that is excellent news also.

As for Graeme's droll contribution it would indeed appear that the Cameroons have run out of arguments, but that comes as no surprise at all.

I think she is Johnny Cash's daughter so the next fundraisng event will probably invole line dancing.

Responding to BEE at the start of the exchange yesterday morning: the Ludlow constituency survey was conducted and funded by me (not the taxpayer or the Party), the second year running I have surveyed all those who bothered to vote in 2005 to find out their local and national priorities. This is extremely helpful in my work in trying to represent my electorate in Parliament. I commend it to my parliamentary colleagues and PPCs (irrespective of gender and other background).

As a hook to encourage replies, I have also asked questions about party leadership changes (last year Conservative, this year Labour). This has led to very high response rates (15.5% last year 16.6% this year) for a political survey, and much higher than for any national opinion poll.

Inevitably the responses will be skewed in favour of Conservatives taking the trouble to reply. BUT 7% of replies are from those who identified themselves as voting Labour at the last General Election (compared with 10% vote share in Ludlow for Labour in 2005); and 19.5% are from those voting LibDem. Of those 3,350 counted so far (it takes time to input over 6,000 replies in to one computer!) 617 were from LibDem voters in 2005. This is more than would be found in a national opinion poll. It is likely that this under-represents the strong LibDem activists, and may overstate the views of the floating LibDem-inclined voter, but this is precisely the sort of LibDem voter which the Conservatives under David Cameron need to attract.

Whatever the purist pollster watchers may say, I believe this is a very important signal about the impact which David Cameron is having on the electorate beyond the Conservative core.

Why is there a need for discussion to be arbitrarily ended, Richard?

There isn't really, James. I was just concerned that the thread was decending into the kind of name-calling which sometimes spoils these discussions. (No doubt I'm guilty myself, on occasions.)

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