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Comments

CJ

Update to my last:

the shortlist for Wantage was: Ed Vaizey, Kit Malthouse (deputy leader Westminster City Council, candidate in Liverpool Wavertree in 1997), Greg Clark (MP Tunbridge Wells, was head of the Policy Unit at the time of the Wantage selection), Maria Miller (MP for Basingstoke).

So, with the question mark over the identity of the 'token female' in Witney, out of 15 shortlisted candidates for those seats:

a) three were women
b) (including the current MPs for the seats) nine are now MPs (eight men, one woman) and one is an MEP.
c) three are still councillors

Can't help with info on Peter Fleet or 'token female' I'm afraid.

I've no idea if any of this is any help to you a-tracy, but it is at least some of the info you were after.

Simon C

One issue is that there is now a relatively high number of "super-marginals" where Conservatives are seeking to overturn majorities of less than 1,000. In most of those cases, it would make great sense to re-select the candidates who fought those seats in 2005. They will already have a strong local profile. My guess is though (I haven't done a head-count) that most of those will be men. That would reflect the selections of the 2001-5 parliament more than it would 2005-10. It would be misleading to judge the success of any policy designed to broaden the party's appeal by reference to marginal seats which pick their 2005 candidate - thereby applying the localism criterion which is also an important factor.

We should instead look to the results in marginal seats which select new candidates, and currently-held seats.

 Ted

sorry selection not eslection ( speared my hand on particulary spiky non hary yucca while wrapping up palms and bananas to protect them against failure of global warming

TC

Does anyone have any statistics of party membership by gender?

Ideally, the approved list should reflect this ratio.

wasp

No the candidates should reflect and represent their individual constituencies, not the party as a whole.

Female Candidate

I can see that the general view here is to be outraged at the idea of the All Women Short List and I agree that it is not ideal. Is it not equally wrong that there are regularly All Male Short Lists for safe seats? For those of you who favour "merit", does it not seem strange to you that if the current system runs on merit only, then merit seems so unevenly spread by gender when over 50% of the population/electorate are female?

James Hellyer

No it doesn't. Just because fifty per cent of the population are female, it does not follow that fifty per cent of would be MPs are female, never mind fifty per cent of the "best" candidates.

Kate Castle

"No it doesn't. Just because fifty per cent of the population are female, it does not follow that fifty per cent of would be MPs are female, never mind fifty per cent of the "best" candidates."

I suppose that depends on each persons point of view as to what makes a good MP. Actually I think there is a good chance that in an ideal world a 50% balance would be good, but getting away from ideals for the moment.

The female representation on the Tory benches is very poor (in number not calibre). All women shortlists are proposed by people who have the right general idea, but as Bleanau Gwent & Preseli Pembroke showed they can be a disaster. Truth is though that in both cases it was more a rejection of Labour HQ pushing a candidate on an area rather than that the candidate came from a female shortlist.

One also wonders how many constituencies have an unwritten men-only shortlist in their mind, even if they have women on the actual list of interviewees. I honestly don't know the answer, but I think we need to be aware that 'rules' that are not written down can be harmful to meritocracy too.

The answer to getting more female Tory MPs is less glamerous than one big proposal like all-women shortlists, it is in encouraging more to come forward at grass roots level, and persuading female Councillors, of which we seem to have quite a lot, to seriously consider taking a step up. I think the new leader would be well advised to have an increase of women in high-profile roles, recently only Theresa May has been. It would be good to see Spellman and Laing get posts that could show their ability. These are women who have had parliamentry experience and done well. When we look at the next level Theresa Villiers' MEP experience could be enough to see her take a shadow junior minister role and I'd hope Justine Greening would not be too far behind. We need a far more representative front bench and there are women in the party with the ability to be there. When that happens I think we will see more coming through the ranks.

 Ted

James
Problem is that we surprisingly for a large national party seem to find so few women with "merit "- is this because:
1 talented women aren't attracted by the Conservative party?
2 women in the Conservative Party prefer to stand in no-hoper seats
3 the Conservative Party membership prefers male candidates?

Sorry but while I agree that individually each constituency should look for the best candidate (male or female, black or white, straight or gay, local or not local) taken as a whole we have an abundance of white, male candidates and MPs and a severe shortage of the others. How do we attract and more importantly select a more varied selection?

Rick

Theresa May is a definite reason to vote Lib Dem or Labour; she is just hard to take seriously on any level and has said some really stupid things in her time.

Wasp is quite correct - LOCAL is the key, and is the basis of the Constituency.

There are several institutions which have been perverted in our society. The Church of England was built on the basis of the Congregation in the Parish not the Diocese; the MP was the LOCAl representative of the Voters not The Party; and the Constable was the employee of the Ratepayers and not the Agent of The State; Schools were offshoots of the Church and later the Local Elected Educational Board, not the Council and not some Learning & Skills Council.

If someone had landed in Britain and shouted "All Power To The Soviets" the current state of England would not be much different from that.

facts not fiction

The reality is that less than 15% of members on the Conservative Party are under 45. This is about the same proportion who get selected, and lower than the percentage of women on the Westminster List. The problem is not therefore selection pannels, or bias, but a lack of younf women members.

Whilst we are on a reality check "Female Candidate" should be aware that there have been no short lists for safe seats which have been all male in the past 4 years. There has actually been bias towards women on short lists(eg over half at K&C of the origional 20). Despite this in many cases they have not made it through to the general meeting. In part this has been because local links have become more important and a polarised list emerges with some very high quality names there on merit and some CCHQ proposed canadidates, often promoted because they happen to be close to the center, not necessarily talented, shoiwing poorly in contrast. As a result they have a poor record of coming through.

DougR


> Quote - Charles Murray

"Since we live in an age when students are likely to hear more about Marie Curie than about Albert Einstein, it is worth beginning with a statement of historical fact: women have played a proportionally tiny part in the history of the arts and sciences. Even in the 20th century, women got only 2 percent of the Nobel Prizes in the sciences—a proportion constant for both halves of the century—and 10 percent of the prizes in literature. The Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, has been given to 44 people since it originated in 1936. All have been men.

The historical reality of male dominance of the greatest achievements in science and the arts is not open to argument. The question is whether the social and legal exclusion of women is a sufficient explanation for this situation, or whether sex-specific characteristics are also at work."

James Hellyer

Problem is that we surprisingly for a large national party seem to find so few women with "merit "- is this because:
1 talented women aren't attracted by the Conservative party?
2 women in the Conservative Party prefer to stand in no-hoper seats
3 the Conservative Party membership prefers male candidates?

Or how about 4) fewer women want to work in a combatative enviroment where they would spend a sizeable amount of the year away from home, as well as working odd hours.

That would explain why women are unrepresented in party politics in general.

The other reasons may be contributing factors as why those women who are interested don't always make it through, but it stikes me that any assumption that the split should be 50/50 is massively flawed.

How do we attract and more importantly select a more varied selection?

Why is the enthnicity, sexuality or skin colour of an MP important? Can women not be represented by men? Or whites by blacks? Or Muslims by Jews?

It strikes me that it's a very superficial way to select candidates. I don't care if my MP is a man or a woman, I just want them to be a good MP and not some figleaf for diversity.

 Ted

James

Agree it's not about quotas - but having such a paucity of women overall reflects something is wrong. It's not about representation on a constituency basis but about overall composition.

To a large extent it's the Parlamentary Party that sets the policy agenda - I think more women or more minorities would reflect their real and differing concerns and priorities and give us a broader and more effective offer to the electorate. And one that is more likely to be accepted - not assumptions from white men about "womens issues" or "minority concerns".

I don't know if its true that women are put off by the hours or the working environment. I look around at the women I work with, the women who are active members of my local village community and I don't see an unwillingness.

Female Candidate

Facts and Figures - in South West Norfolk, the final 6 were all men, in Tunbridge Wells the final was all men, in Windsor the final was all men. Another poster gave some other examples above. Why does no one think All Men Short Lists (or finals/semi-finals if you prefer) are a problem if you all object to All Women ones? Is it a surprise that the party has so few female members under 45 and this is an area where our vote is falling?

James Hellyer

"I don't know if its true that women are put off by the hours or the working environment. I look around at the women I work with, the women who are active members of my local village community and I don't see an unwillingness."

Are the women in your village community working away from their homes and families for most of the week and for most of the year? In an adversarial environment?

Mark Fulford

James, I'm not sure if the point of your rhetoric is that the job of MP is not attractive to women or not suited to women. Please clarify.

Sean Fear


There are probably very few political parties in the Democratic World (and almost no centre right parties) in which the proportion of male MPs does not exceed 50%, usually by a very big margin.

That suggests that overall fewer women than men want to pursue full-time political careers.

The Catholic Rees-Mogg is only making up for his lack of influence on the all-male Catholic priesthood by seeking to impose all-women shortlists on the Conservative Party. Incidentally, one only has to look at the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council to realise that modernisation for its own sake only earns you a kick in the teeth- no-one is fooled.

And look no farther than the Labour MPs to realise the quality implications a policy as disastrous as all-women shortlists . When talented women see Conservatism as a path to power, these issues will solve themselves. They cannot be solved artificially.

Gillibrand

The Catholic Rees-Mogg is only making up for his lack of influence on the all-male Catholic priesthood by seeking to impose all-women shortlists on the Conservative Party. Incidentally, one only has to look at the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council to realise that modernisation for its own sake only earns you a kick in the teeth- no-one is fooled.

And look no further than the Labour MPs to realise the quality implications a policy as disastrous as all-women shortlists . When talented women see Conservatism as a path to power, these issues will solve themselves. They cannot be solved artificially.

Mark Fulford

Sean, all the Nordic countries have more than 35% women MPs. Even countries such as Turkmenistan, Namibia and Rwanda have better balance in their parliaments. We have scope to improve!

I suspect that if we gave women a fairer crack at the whip, we'd get more women interested.

Sean Fear


The Scandanavians believe in feminism like a religion. It's part of their culture. It's not part of ours. And even in Scandanavian countries, the number of men in Parliament is still significantly greater than the number of women.

a-tracy

I don’t agree with all women shortlists, in the same way that I don’t agree with all men shortlists! I don’t agree with cronyism either.

“Lord Rees-Mogg believes that the Conservative Party needs many more women on its benches - gradually replacing the "grey-suited, grey-haired assembly of male elders of the tribe" that currently represent the Conservative Party.”

I can’t make my mind up whether the party has so few female MP’s because there aren’t enough high calibre candidates who apply, or the decent candidates are finding it hard to get put into ‘high majority’ seats. Thanks CJ for the information you posted earlier.

I don’t think that female Tory MP’s do sufficient to get noticed; I don’t know whether that is by their choice or instruction from above? I read Ed Vaizey’s articles in the Guardian and saw him on TV (with the QC chap) before he became an MP and thought he looked like a winner. How many female MP’s other than Widdicombe, May and Spelman regularly appear on shows like Question Time? Or is it just a numbers job presently and the present female MP’s perform the bare minimum on the London circuit and stay in their constituency? I’ve asked today at work how many female Tory MP’s can you think of, try it yourselves tomorrow! The answer wasn’t good.

Ultimately the problem you’ve got looming here is that the true power of the party is in the hands of the people who produce the selection lists and if you fall out with them you don’t get on a selection list full stop. Doesn’t this give rather too much power in the hands of too few unelected people?

I can’t stand the thought of a parliament full of nice looking, presentable young media savvy people, all fresh faced with their university degrees in politics and economics or law without much nitty-gritty experience of life or the world of work outside of London. In the same way that teachers can appear institutionalised going from school to college from college to Uni from Uni back to school.

James my parents don’t even know the name of their MP let alone care about whether the person is male or female, he has made no impact on them whatsoever. They often can’t be bothered to vote because the result is such a foregone conclusion they see it as pointless wasting their time.

As for the ‘local’ issue just what is your local area, the County you were born in, the ward you grew up in, the area you went to University, or the place you found your first job? How long do you have to live there before it’s local? I grew up in Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire – I consider myself a local to Stoke and Staffordshire and have relatives and friends that live there. I spent six years in Oldham, Lancashire and built a business in Manchester so I consider myself a local to those areas and have friends and relatives still there. I’ve spent the last 16 years in Cheshire and started my family here this is where I call home and it is my current local area.

Plus if your local area has a firmly embedded MP who isn’t likely to be going anywhere for a good few years would you have to move home? and what does it matter anyway when the MP’s that get the best roles are all in London for the vast part of the week? I don’t think that all of this time is necessarily spent on party/constituency business either, otherwise how could they have directorships and other earnings.

I don’t think women worry about ‘an adversarial environment’ I know I wouldn’t. The hours away from the home especially if you represent a Northern seat I feel would be an issue but that isn’t the preserve of women is it?

James Hellyer

I'm not sure if the point of your rhetoric is that the job of MP is not attractive to women or not suited to women.

The job and environment. Women can be excellent MPs (or terrible ones like Emma Nicholson). They can be great leaders. The point is that over all the parties, there is not the number of women wanting the same level of involvement as men. This would seem to indicate that there's something about the job, rather than just our party, they don't like.

"I don’t think women worry about ‘an adversarial environment'"

The yah booh nature of our politics is often cited as negative by a higher proportion of women then men in opinion polls.

"The hours away from the home especially if you represent a Northern seat I feel would be an issue but that isn’t the preserve of women is it?"

But you see the same dichotomy in other industries: few women in the top jobs, because they've put raising a family above a career.

It's silly to discriminate against a woman on the grounds of gender, but it no less silly to discrimiante in favour of them in the name of diversity.

Mark Fulford

a-tracy, there's an interesting report by the Equal Opportunities Commission that shares many of your thoughts - particularly with respect to the barriers. It finds that 'yah booh' isn't a big deal.

http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/manenoughenglishforweb.pdf

I've been thinking about your famous-females observation... yes, 3 out of 17 tory women MPs are prominent. By the same ratio we'd expect 32 prominent men from our 181 male MPs. I'm not sure I can come up with 32!!! I don't think there's a gender difference in effectiveness.

James - I agree with everything you've said, but we can't ignore the ingrained discrimination that happens in selection panels.

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