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I note that the second picture was deliberately angled to obscure Theresa May, Cheryl Gillan, Caroline Spelman and Theresa Villiers who were on the platform at Cheltenham. Obviously didn't suit the story to show the capable women in the Shadow Cabinet who got there on merit and without the help of quotas, all-women shortlists and other tricks of the NuLab trade!

Bit silly of the Times really. Was it a slow news day? There are several criticisms that it's possible to make about David Cameron, being unfair to female Conservatives is not one of them.

Is Harlot Harperson working for the Times this week? - she wouldn't be happy unless men are banned from doing anything.

Pathetic stuff from The Times.

I've just seen the paper edition and the choice of photo is very misleading.

Theresa May could have done herself more favours in context today by pledging that Ms Harperson's Equalities Bill, if enacted, would be repealed in the first 30 days of a new Conservative government, rather than hiding behind a bland "not convinced this will work" formula as highlighted on the news thread.

That is one good reason that the "dead tree press" is failing. Poor reportage. Misleading pictures. In this age of digital photography, must we look forward to a leftie newspaper deliberatly removing the women from a group to support its aim of smearing the Tories? Hmmm!

He can hardly be blamed for the make up of a parliamentary group elected before he became leader. This attack makes no sense at all.

sill article.

DC needs talent not pc promotions and he does able women - of whom there are many in the Commons already or about to join at the election - a HUGE disservice by such nonsense. It is they who lose out the most.

Look at the disaster that was Spelman's tenure at CChq.

I agree with your piece Tim. It was an unfortunate attempt to paint Cameron as a bigot and an even more unfortunate attempt to promote positive discrimination.

Meritocracy gave us Margaret and to promote on anything other than talent is bad for the country and bad for women. I'm sure none of the members of David's shadow team want to feel if they're appointed to a great office of state its for PR purposes. Tokenism has no place in politics or society.

It is a rather unfair piece by The Times. A few points about women on the front bench do spring to mind though.

Nadine Dorries should be on the front bench in some role. As a backbencher she is far more well known, articulate and passionate than many on the front bench. Many of the Conservative front bench beneath the rank of Shadow Cabinet I have never heard of. That problem would not apply to Nadine.

It has always been a mystery to me as to why Julie Kirkbride is on the backbenches, and has only once in the last twelve years been on the front bench, as Shadow Culture Secretary from 2003-2004. She seems to be very bright, very articulate, seems to be very passionate about the issues she cares about, comes across well on TV ... in the time that she has been in Parliament she could have risen to the top, but hasn't. Can anyone enlighten me on this one?!

Justine Greening would be a very welcome addition to the Shadow Cabinet. Very clever, articulate, knows her brief well whether its the economy or transport.

Eleanor Laing has been toiling away in the number two slot for years, first in Education, then at Justice. It was first speculated that she would join the shadow cabinet in 2001, and yet still she hasn't. She would be great as Shadow Scotland Secretary.

Caroline Spelman seems much better suited at Local Government than she did as Party Chairman, really knows her stuff in this brief, and should be allowed to carry it into government.

Maria Miller is doing an excellent job as Gove's number two, which makes her hard to move. But she seems very talented and deserves promotion at some point.

Not many people left the front bench in the January reshuffle. It was a shame that Jacqui Lait was one of them, as she is a stalwart of the frontbench, and has government experience as a whip from the Major government.

AS an educated, professional woman I get incensed when Times leader writers and PR advisers and Tory leaders become immersed in the realm of positive discrimation. To have a quota of women in the Shadow cabinet even if they are rubbish outrages me as a woman. It is a policy devised by males for males about what they think is acceptable to women to gain votes. If they actually went out on the streets and asked some women they would all respond in the same way; promotion should be done on merit not gender. If it not done in that way it just promotes mediocrity which does the cause of women no good at all. The problem with positive discrimination is that it only really breeds dependence and a sense of entitlement, it also creates separateness and resentment which is exactly what happened with the A-list. The reality is if you discriminate in favour of some this inevitably involves discriminating against others. In any situation it would be infuriating if a place is awarded to someone with lower qualifications but who happens to belong to an approved group. It is also unacceptable to treat people in groups rather than as individuals, it simply diminishes them, even dehumanizes them. We are not women, we are people! And quite frankly why should men lose out when women receive positive discrimination when they have done nothing to deserve it. Why should they be punished because not enough women have the will or desire or motivation or energy or talent to go into politics in the first place? It’s all PR rubbish and it’s patronizing towards women. Margaret Thatcher managed to do it after all, Why? Because she had sufficient talent to get through and stay there.

The Times might be better advised to concentrate on the dire consequences of the influx of "Blair Babes" in the 1997 election. For the most part, they have been a disaster. Jacqui Smith is perhaps the most notorious example - completely out of her depth. These blinkered, and often totally untalented, women have been behind the push for political correctness with all the dire consequences.

The Conservatives should be selecting, and then promoting, the most able people of whatever sex, colour etc.

Maybe we could get some gender neutral people (transexual)in to satisfy the pc brigade?

Dreadful article by the Times and so misleading. Their lead story on a day when there was so much else to cover be it swine flu or Browns U Turn on Expenses and the Times has to dream up this. It makes me very suspicious which way the Times will go come the election. No coincidence in my view that this article appeaed on the day that Harman introduced the Equalities Bill.

Tim - you have forgotton Anne Milton who is a junior shadow health minister

As you say, Pauline Neville-Jones and Sayeeda Warsi weren't on the stage at Cheltenham, so that's two more.
Rubbish reporting from the Times.

I don't really know Anne Milton, Marjorie so have no opinion of her either way. I should correct that but, in the meantime, my apologies to you and her.

What we need in government, because that is where we are going, is ability not a balance of the sexes. True equality can not be attained by preference be it based upon colour, race, sex, or any other criteria. Merrit and that alone should decide which job is given to which aspirant in the next government. I want to see competence and dedication to the needs of this nation NOT correctness of any variety, be it political, sexual or any other. Lets have a government that will address our problems be it all female, male or any mix, but it mus be based upon ability other than that what does it matter? This is a non issue blown large by silly interest groups usually with silly agendas. For heavens sake, have we not managed to learn anything from the last twelve years of sexually balanced political correctness which puts incompetence and personal agenda's ahead of the good governance of Britain?

"Nadine Dorries should be on the front bench in some role."

Not wise.

Good to see Cameron going with competence and common sense, rather than political correctness. Villiers, Spelman and May have made virtually no impact compared with eg Grayling and Gove and Justine Greening and Maria Miller need a lot more experience!

For the second time today I agree completely with Jack Iddon. If we want to draw uncomfortable parallels, do we really think that putting a woman into one of the highest offices of State (Ms Smith as Home Secretary) because she is a woman (surely it cannot be based on her ability?) then we will have nothing to gain. The all-women short lists for constituency selection panels are surely not for us. Look at the remainder of the female make-weights that were elected in the Labour interest for Blair`s first term in government.
This is not to say that there are not a fair number of men who fall into a similar category, on grounds of little ability and still less for what they offer to any government. I have recently had the opportunity to watch the Parliament channel on TV and there seems to me to be a marked difference in the standard of Conservative MPs of both genders when compared with most of those in the other parties; to our advantage it must be said. Let us not go down the road of positive discrimination, save on the grounds of ability, which is what really counts

As I had pointed out to me by my girlfriend, the women on stage were all dressed in light colours - while the men were dressed in dark - an attempt maybe to highlight the women who were on stage?

As the article states, a lot of front bench Tory women were just not in Cheltenham – they do exist!

The fact is Cameron only has 17 female MPs to choose from for the front bench team. More than half are in shadow positions - senior and junior - surely the Times cannot be suggesting Cameron should promote more women simple to make up the numbers? A far higher proportion of tory women make the front-bench than men, and make it there on ability. Lets keep the quality of Cameron’s team up, rather than the proportions!

The Times is talking nonsense. Have they so soon forgotten Maggy? We certainly do not want to end up with Wimmin in the way Labour has. Forced in to balance the books Labours back benches is stuffed with substandard MPs many of whom are Female. The simple fact appears to be that men tend more often to be good at the game of politics. That's not to say that there are no good women politicians there are, however they are rather thinner on the ground. I hope that the next Conservative government will have the guts to throw off the PC experiment and done with it.The PC brigade has been very bad for Britain. To take their silliness to the extreme shouldn't 50% of babies be born to men instead of the unfair monopoly woman have in this department? Just because the socialists have no common sense it doesn't follow that we should abandon ours.

One of the writers of the Time pieces is Alice Miles.

She is a personal friend of Ed Milliband as well as other connections with Labour people.

So why the surprise?

This is just a piece of poison fed from the Labour Govt. McPoison was not the only tool in Labour's dirtbox.

Just a note, and I'm not suggesting anyone is saying this: Just because Jacqui Smith has been the biggest failure imaginable, doesn't mean that is the case with all women MPs. Of course we shouldn't promote women just because they're women. At the same time, we shouldn't not promote women because Jacqui Smith is so awful. Even our least effective female MP is one hundred times better than the Home Secretary!

Dorothy Wilson at 10.05 is quite right:

"The Conservatives should be selecting, and then promoting, the most able people of whatever sex, colour etc".

As she also points out, many of the 'Blair Babes' were disastrous when overpromoted.

We need more well qualified women in government but positive discrimination is not the way to do it.

As with university entrance, it reduces the quality of a university education if admission tutors are forced to allow sub-standard candidates in simply because they have been disadvantaged by their school education. You have to improve the schools.

Equally, I believe much more should be done to help candidates - men and women - who need coaching in public speaking or parliamentary procedures to give them all the background knowledge they require to make a good impression.

How amazing that only about a month away from the Euro elections the party found time to talk about positive discrimination and quotas of women !
Why do so few seem to have spotted the ticking time-bomb in Mr Hague's speech on the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (aka constitution)?
Did nobody notice the all important phrase and the implication about it being contingent on whether or not all the member states ratify it?
Why the ambiguity about a referendum when the original promise for one was given "without strings"?
What has a British referendum on the future of the governance of our country to do with what other countries decide to do about the Lisbon Treaty? How many more hoops must we jump through before this vital and all important consultation with the British people takes place as promised?

The problem that Nadine Dorries has is that she is very effective against any opposition, she will always have the misogynists, pro abortionists, and other rivals trying to undermine her.

When Nadine Dorries achieved what she did with the abortion debate I thought it was a fluke. I had her down as a pro life zealot, a one trick pony. When I saw her on QT it crossed my mind that I had never actually seen a female MP come across as a woman. It occurred to me that all MPs come across in the same android, sterile, manner regardless of gender. When I saw her on Sky during the Easter break (I was on holiday in France), I realised that she was the real thing. I don't think I have ever senn any woman smack it to Labour in the way she did. With charm, style, power, huge beauty and fluttering eye lashes. I'm affraid I melted. I have read the Times and for the first time I doubt Cameron. If a woman with such genuine passion and ability is not in any position within the party, what's going on?

Well said graham wood.
I personally am in favour of our remaining in the EU but utterly resent the shepherding that is going on to deny me a say in the Lisbon Treaty, (yes, as you say, constitution) and I am especially disappointed when folk whom I admire, one of whom is Haigue, slip mealy mouthed getout words into statements that on the surface appear honest and straightforward.

Promote Ann McKintosh

"As she also points out, many of the 'Blair Babes' were disastrous when overpromoted."

The "Blair Babes" were disastrous. Full stop!

I think those who want to argue about 'positive discrimination' need to claim either
(i) claim women are less talented
(ii) claim women are less interested
OR (iii) admit there is still positive discrimination in favour of mediocre men, despite a strong cultural prejudice to declaim the opposite.

Can anybody claim there are fair chances and equal opportunities at present? How do you explain the evidence of systemic bias in all parties? If we believe in fair chances and equal opportunities, we have to be concerned that (across the three main parties) there is overall a one-in-four chance of a new selection going to a woman and three-in-four of it going to a man.

So I think we should acknowledge that all parties need to do more.

The main complaint in this post seems to be about the photographs. The reports are fair when it comes to the facts, particularly given what the leadership has said: they give credit for the progress made. The only unfairness is of the 'politician falls short of ambitious goal' kind, which is part and parcel of life.

Yes, David Cameron deserves credit for the prominence he has given this issue. But he has clearly not achieved nearly as much as he wanted. If the Conservatives were to win a majority of 1, your own projections suggest 15% of Tory MPs will be women. (If it were to be a larger victory, the chances are the proportion of women will be lower than 15% since women are better represented higher up the seats list). Less than one in six isn't great.

So any Conservative victory is very likely to reduce the number of women MPs overall. That remains a fact which should guard against complacency on this. And it is may be one reason the party has been slow to react to some issues, such as childcare issues. These affect men and women but an almost all-male party was slow to spot their importance.

The Times coverage and the Tory leadership position show that equal chances for women in politics is very much a mainstream issue - not confined to the liberal-left as it was a decade ago. That is successful cultural change, because all parties now recognise that fairer chances for (just over) half of the population are necessary. Those who want to say this is trendy political correctness are losing the argument, as ConservativeHome's own good coverage over time demonstrates, though they remain a noisy faction.

I think ConservativeHome has been absolutely right to try to put more attention on the economic (as well as time) costs of seeking selection. You remain ahead of the game on this point and you should make more of it. I think this is where the debate in each of the parties needs to go. I think the economic/time issues are a big reason why the stats show it is now proving harder to break down gender than ethnic barriers, and why social class is as ConsHome has argued should be legitimately part of this debate, and part of the Speakers' Conference deliberations.

The refusal to engage with the evidence means that few people bother to look properly at the different dynamics around race, gender, class and other issues, which is important to a sensible and effective approach to equal opportunity and no unfair barriers. For example, on the facts, i have been a strong critic of all ethnic minority shortlists, and have shown why they are unnecessary and would quite probably set back progress, as well as broader objections. (Again, giving credit to the Tories for your progress in this area). Those who are stuck in a 'we shouldn't ever talk about this' position fail to recognise relevant distinctions between different issues.

Until the politicians as a whole grasp the fact that the sexes have differences in aspiration they will not grasp the fact that some - not all - women do not want the life of an MP, which - let's face it - carries a degree of public prominence they do not seek. The result is that to get a gender-balanced candidate list parties have twist arms a bit or reject sometimes the excellent for the good !

The other danger at the moment if the polls stay as they are is exactly what happened to the Labour party. More people won seats than ever expected to! The result was that unexperienced candidates expecting to be rejected at their first attempt found themselves MPs to their surprise! Many of those Labour women MPs are of such a background and disproportionately provide classic failures.

The Conservative Party could find itself in exactly the same position and it would be instructive to examine the gender of Tory candidates at various intensity of pro-Tory swing. My gut feeling is that the bigger the swing the more female women Tory MPs there'll be proportionately. ie; inexperienced candidates generally get to fight difficult seats at their first outing.

For heavens sake let's stick to merit and track record and cut out this ridiculous gender business.

Comments in the Times are not very favourable so they've probably shot themselves in the foot. Watch Alice Miles for a limp!

Kitty Rogers: Amen

No Doubt, whoever planted this in the Times felt that it would be worthwhile, even if it only 'converted' a couple of 'don't knows' to Labour! Which of course, H. Harperson's Bill yesterday, was designed for as well!

"Can anybody claim there are fair chances and equal opportunities at present? How do you explain the evidence of systemic bias in all parties? If we believe in fair chances and equal opportunities, we have to be concerned that (across the three main parties) there is overall a one-in-four chance of a new selection going to a woman and three-in-four of it going to a man."

Er, except there isn't. The proportion of Conservative women being selected for seats is similar to the proportion of the Approved List who are women. That would suggest that associations are roughly as likely to select a man as a woman.

The dear old Times again. Totally incapable of keeping its heart off its sleeve and launching what it believes to be a subtle ploy to assist a dying Labour government.

Don't depend on it at the general election, it will still be fuffling away as Brown's buffoons slide down the tube.

You're complaining that four women were cropped? If your comeback is that a whole four women were on stage with him than you have more problems than you realise.

Sean Fear and Christina Speight are choosing (ii) women are less interested as their reason for the imbalance.

Some may believe this is biological or about perceptions of gender roles.

Others might ask whether we might want to change a Parliamentary and/or party culture which generates that result.

I don't think women are put off by fear of the "public prominence". Some may well be deterred by the working practices and culture of the House of Commons as it currently is.

You're complaining that four women were cropped? If your comeback is that a whole four women were on stage with him than you have more problems than you realise.

Are you saying 4 women are worthless?

The post does say admit it's male dominated, but to go with your suggestion that women don't count until their numbers are 5 or greater is just patronising and is an opinion that belongs 2 centuries ago (ie. can be found in today's labour party)

Nadine Dorries is a British version of Sara Palin. Keep her out of the way and on the back benches.

Sunder, very few occupations draw applications equally from all sections of the population. It looks (for whatever reason) as if more men than women prefer a full time political career; just as it looks (for whatever reason) that more women than men want to be primary school teachers.

It doesn't follow that in either case, the people running the system are at fault.

Wannabe MP,

"I don't think I have ever senn any woman smack it to Labour in the way she did. With charm, style, power, huge beauty and fluttering eye lashes."

Hahahaha I see women certainly aren't being stereotyped any more then...

"Can anybody claim there are fair chances and equal opportunities at present? How do you explain the evidence of systemic bias in all parties?"

It isn't as simple as "systemic bias". There are highly complicated issues involved including personality preferences, life style choices, motivational triggers, values and all the complexes of antrophology.

And as the example of the Blair Babes illustrates only too well, simply using the mechanisms of positive discrimination to push people into Parliament who, in reality, do not have the attributes, skills, abilities and talents to perform there just does not work.

And pushing "Equal Opportunities" does not work either. In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect from that intended.

The Times somewhat out of charachter did a bit of PC Tory bashing which was gratuitous and unfair. Our Party is fully committed to more elected women representatives at all levels of governance and I have only witnessed strong encouragement to all those women who wish to stand for office. Thus I was irritated that it showed the MEPs as only having one woman which is currently true and makes us the most male dominated elected body but it singularly failed to mention the Party's bold but understandable one off selection process aimed at enhancing the number of women eurocandidates in 6 weeks time which will ensure probably at least 6 excellent women joining us in the European Parliament as MEPs with a wealth of talent and expertise. So overnight we Tory MEPs will go from an embarassingly low number to a proportion greater I believe than the Tory MPs in the House of Commons. I look forward to working with my new female colleagues as I did in the past with Theresa Villiers whose formidable energy and political abilities as MEP and MP demonstrate how far dedicated women policians can and will go in our party.

I'm not quite sure how the groundswell of support for Theresa Villiers is justified. It's one thing to get publicity for stunts such as opposing a third runway at Heathrow, it's quite another to forge a coherent transport strategy. Apologies for sounding negative but it's not enough to get the soundbites, we need to be capable of doing the structural thinking as well.

Still, with the Budget announcing a 50% cash cut in capital spending from now up to 2013, I'm sure this will help to focus the minds of our transport team...

I am a woman, No!, and I would go along with Dorothy Wilson @ 15.55.

What is the percentage of men to women in the population as a whole - since these days we have to be so 'dreadfully' PC. In the older age groups certainly women out-number men, but in the younger groups I should have thought it was/is more equal.

Someone should not become an MP just because of her/his sex! They should become an MP because they want to change things, or help to 'do good' for the country. Some people still also want to get on the gravy train of course. But I am against women being encouraged to become MP's just because we have got to have X number of women in Parliament.

Mrs. Thatcher had to fight her way up the ladder (with occasional help), and she still became PM. She also understood that it is about hard work and dedication. Not dedication as in being a nun, but as in sitting patiently listening to some boring old fart, drone on etc:, because often thats what you get in Parliament!

Charles Tannock MEP at 15:55 - Thanks for reminding me how fiddled our list system has been by the leadership. That's one reason NOT to vote Tory in the Euros. Every time you post on here there's another reason not to vote Tory.

Dorothy Wilson at 1555 is spot on. It's what I was trying to say earlier. Personally when I was in Central Office myself in 1951 vI toyed with the idea but decided (a) I hadn't the experience and a little later when I had (b) it was not the life I wanted.

Patsy has it right too.

"Charles Tannock MEP at 15:55 - Thanks for reminding me how fiddled our list system has been by the leadership. That's one reason NOT to vote Tory in the Euros. Every time you post on here there's another reason not to vote Tory."

Posted by: christina Speight

I've often wondered about the amount of time Charles spends messing about in chatrooms and sunning himself on foreign junkets and so on.

On the whole, I'd say it's a good thing. The last thing we want is an MEP who'll spend his life beavering away in Brussels, creating laws and regulations and general mischief.

No, when it comes to electing an MEP, stolid indolence and an air of permanant distraction are the two main qualities I look for.

This is a blatent dishonest smear by the Times. It comes after another smear attempt by the Evening Standard about Boris and Cameron. We must expect more smears through corrupt jounalists, since that was Blair's main methods in the 90s and it was so effective

No doubt Eric Pickles is writing to the Times pointing out the facts since the lesson has been learned about how Blair did so well. Er, not holding my breath.

Dear Francis you couldnt be more wrong -today I was in London speaking at a womans conference in Bexleyheath. For the record yesterday I was at the launch of the poster campaign then off to Brussels for an important vote on asylum and immigration and other committee meetings before catching the first train over this morning. No I do not spend my time idle I just enjoy on my laptop when I take a break from babbysitting my young family, answering work emails or thinking about my next speaking engagement to sneak a peek at ConHome and from time to time when inspired add my thoughts. Many MPs and MEPs also look at ConHome but rarely post, perhaps I shouldnt either as it generally generates invective from the likes of Ms Speight but I believe the blogosphere is the future and the way to get your thoughts and ideas across by engaging with it particularly as an MEP covering huge regions when virtually no one in the media generally listens to what we do and say in the european parliament although in fairness Tim has been generous in giving us much more coverage than before.
In case you still believe me indolent I suggest you checkout my track record on mine or the EP website...

Dear Mr Tannock - The invective - as you choose gto call trenchant criticism - comes from the fact that from reading your writings you are of that sector of the Tory MEPs who have consistently backed that faction defying head office of the party which got your cushy job and have 'gone native' in Brussels. Some of us bother to know the 'goodies' from the 'baddies' in the MEPs and are furious that we were cheated out of the chance to de-select those that we didn't like. That would have been an exercise of democracy - a concept alien to most MEPs and to the europhile Tories in particular.

So if you are a red rag to my mad cow it's your own faultg.

"Many MPs and MEPs also look at ConHome but rarely post, perhaps I shouldn't either as it generally generates invective from the likes of Ms Speight but I believe the blogosphere is the future"

MEPs are welcome to join in the blog space, and its always really nice to see one bothering to post. I can understand a little of the reasons why senior politicians would not, but they would be very foolish indeed if they did not recognise the power of this media. Of course Blogs will never be direct power that would be ridiculous, but they are very quickly becoming a powerbase for key players. It a great shame that you work so hard for us in europe and we are so very ungrateful, but we would be lying if we pretended that Europe is exciting to us. Of course we know its a reality but for many of us, our beings are set on recovering Great Britain. It is that which I think the blogs are able to do, far better than any single speech or slogan or natty dressed individual.
It is through the blogs that we can find out who we have become as a Nation. It is as a Mation that we can recover the Spirit of the One Nation. I welcome MEPs who are open to British Nationality and British determination. I want to hear what MPs are doing for Britian in Europe. I would like a commitment to reverse the Nu-labour name change from United Kingdon to Great Britian.
I am willing to except that Conservative MEPs are the best sort of MEPs.

I would be more interested to know why so few MPs bother to turn up at the Spring forum at all. I would guess that there were more MEPs than backbench MPs present - of either sex!
The faithful volunteers turn out in droves and at their own expense!!

I wonder if Times has ever heard of a lady from Grantham by the name of Margaret Thatcher? So much for Conservatives not having successful women....!

Christina and Francis - I think your bile and spite towards Charles Tannock is entirely uncalled for. Charles has explained some of what he does and he most certainly does not spend his time "messing about in chatrooms" or "sunning himself" on foreign junkets. There are plenty of others who work equally hard and the fact that Charles takes the trouble to come on here and share his thoughts with us on a variety of political subjects does him great credit - especially as he has to duck a continual volley of brickbats virtually every time he posts!
Christina I do worry about you sometimes - you seem so full of hatred and invective and I am sure it cannot be good for you.

A few years ago Stephen Glover wrote an article in “The Spectator” headlined: “If you want to see Labour getting a soft ride, look no further than the news pages of the Times” – and this is still true today – as evinced by these articles [although the paper is becoming ideologically split with some right-wing writers].

On the subject of slipping standards at “The Times” – handily coupled with Alice Miles – who also wrote a nasty little piece of Times-Tory-bashing – “Dr John Crippen” headlined a post on his blog recently: “Alice Miles - The shit in The Times”. He also said: “Alice Miles, a well-known commentator, is having a go at hospital consultants. It is an unusually illiterate and offensive article, full of poison and vitriol. The sort of article that a decent editor, a Rees-Mogg, for example, would have spiked. But the Times has gone down the tubes and behaves more like a tabloid newspaper these days, and so I suppose articles like this go with the territory.”
Link: http://nhsblogdoc.blogspot.com/2006/04/alice-miles-shit-in-times.html

Turning to the two main Times-Tory-bashing’ articles, the co-writer is "The Times" Deputy Political Editor Francis Elliott who has a book to promote about David Cameron – and “The Times” so kindly gave him more publicity the other day – in the form of another article openly publicising his book – which prompted Boris to go on the record to refute some of the book’s claims!

As for the subject matter that these Lefties are howling about – it never ceases to amaze me how the political arm of the Trade Union Movement [aka the Labour Party] doesn’t bow its head in collective shame at NEVER having elected a woman to lead their party. So much for the ‘egalitarian’ Left! Instead it was the Conservative Party who elected Lady T as leader, and the electorate who voted her our first female Prime Minister. That is what makes these Lefty bigoted attacks all the more irksome. With Marxist zeal they first of all condemn using “sexism” – and there is a hidden agenda of “racism” [a word first coined by Trotsky] – with liberal [very punny] use of the adjective “white” [written with a sneer]. All they’ve missed is the third of this Marxist triumvirate – class. They must be slipping as that’s the default position of Lefties to attack so-called “Tory toffs”!

Considering Tim has clarified the cropped nature of the photograph used by “The Times” – it is very naughty of Alice Miles to end her piece with: “The Tory party is still in its white, male comfort zone and that, in the end, is what that photograph represents.” On the subject of white males – check out this link from Wikipedia regarding a story revealed by Guido – concerning Alice Myles, and someone else with the same initials!
Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marr

Finally, what these series of articles really indicate is that Lefties are panic-stricken, and dredging up anything to throw at the Conservatives in a desperate attempt to avoid what I hope will be inevitable – a Conservative government.

Sally - You can worry about me if you like but I worry about the party and what it has become. You can't go through a political life without controversy - you and Dr Tannock seem to regard it as a dirty word.

My complaint about Dr Tannock is entirely derived from his writings here. He conveys - rightly or wrongly - an air of condescension to us lesser mortals and I don't like being preached to who was not born until 10 years after I joined the party. Wandering through his writings as found in Google, I don't like what I read - more visions for Europe than for Britain. . I also find his touchiness odd in view of his former medical speciality

I'm not by any means saying four women are worthless. I'm saying that if you think four women is sufficient to show the Tories grasp the importance of equality than you you appear to have a rather tokenistic grasp of representation. The fact that expanding the photo and still only finds four women on stage is an embarassment.

Kate - Try a little arithmetic. The Tories and Labour put roughly the same number of people on the stage. But just for a 'suppose' it's 24 people. That's 12.1% of the Tory party's MPs and 6.7% of Labour's. It is therefore nearly twice as easy for Labour as for Tories

It is very frustrating. The Party has worked hard to bring forward talented, intelligent, and committed women - there has been a genuine effort, well resourced, which the leadership has supported - but which has not been altogether successful.

I watch PMQs on TV and I see a swathe of grey suited men, some passed their prime, over promoted Blair Babes out of their depth usually in fushia or turquoise - and I watch with mounting irritation. The women I know in the workplace are hard working, able, successful, and with their natural empathy, diplomacy, negotiating skills and sense of community would make wonderful politicians - why, why, why can we not tap into such people? What is it that switches them off politics?

To an outsider politics at the grass roots level can seem weird. It is not always easy to break out from the stereotype that it is the the women who do the social/fundraising (no matter how many letters they have after their name) which in itself requires organisation and hard work and the men take on the serious business of policy, plotting and politics.

One Margaret Thatcher is not enough - but oh so infinitely preferably to a 100 Jackie Smiths.

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