Biased against women? Not us, say county Tories

Nigel Huddleston, the Conservative Mid-Worcestershire parliamentary candidate

Nigel Huddleston, the Conservative Mid-Worcestershire parliamentary candidate

First published in News
Last updated
Malvern Gazette: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

TORY activists in Worcestershire insist there is “no bias” against women - and have warned David Cameron they would oppose deliberate attempts to get more into parliament.

The Prime Minister is on a collision course with party volunteers after expressing “frustration” at a lack of female prospective MPs.

In recent weeks more and more local branches have backed men to fight parliamentary contests in 2015, despite pleas from Mr Cameron to go the other way.

It includes Mid-Worcestershire, where Sir Peter Luff is stepping down in 2015 and Nigel Huddleston, an executive at Google, has been selected.

Mid-Worcestershire Conservative Association has hit out at Mr Cameron’s concerns, saying it would oppose any measures against “natural selection”.

The association used an open primary method of selection this time around, meaning four final shortlisted candidates had to take part it a public Q&A.

Around the country, in 53 seats the Tories harbour realistic hopes of capturing at the General Election, 36 associations have selected men and 17 women.

According to reports Mr Cameron has sent out “messages” about modernising the “look of the party” and accepting more women.

Laurie Evans, Mid-Worcestershire Conservative Association’s president, said: “Quite a number of candidates have now been selected in open primaries - it shows the Conservatives are prepared to be quite open about our candidates.

“Of course they need to be members of the party and be Conservative-minded, but the best person gets it.

“We support a natural process of selection and there is no bias in our constituency about whether it’s male or female.”

During the branch’s open contest a final shortlist of four was drawn up, which included three men and just one woman, Gloucestershire-based barrister Victoria Atkins.

Of Worcestershire’s six MPs two are female - West Worcestershire’s Harriett Baldwin and Karen Lumley, who represents Redditch.

Mrs Baldwin, who was elected in 2010 after Sir Michael Spicer stepped down, said she would not support all-women shortlists.

“Here in Worcestershire two of the six MPs are women which is better than the 23 per cent at Westminster as a whole,” she said.

“Of course there are too few women in parliament across all parties.

“In the history of this country only 369 women have ever been elected to parliament, fewer than the number of male MPs in parliament today, so I do work hard to encourage more women to get involved in politics at all levels.

“However, I oppose all women - and all men - shortlists for seats as I don’t think women MPs want to be seen to be benefiting from positive discrimination.”

Comments (5)

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2:36pm Tue 7 Jan 14

MJI says...

All x shortlists are nothing but discrimination.
.
I agree all choices should be open with no pre biasing.
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Other parties should take note.
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No woman MP from an all woman short list has achieved anything of note, as opposed to open selection ones.
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It is insultive to women.
All x shortlists are nothing but discrimination. . I agree all choices should be open with no pre biasing. . Other parties should take note. . No woman MP from an all woman short list has achieved anything of note, as opposed to open selection ones. . It is insultive to women. MJI
  • Score: -1

4:01pm Tue 7 Jan 14

3thinker says...

MJI wrote:
All x shortlists are nothing but discrimination.
.
I agree all choices should be open with no pre biasing.
.
Other parties should take note.
.
No woman MP from an all woman short list has achieved anything of note, as opposed to open selection ones.
.
It is insultive to women.
I'm not sure how you define 'achieved anything of note' but I would have thought Jacqui Smith, (the former Redditch MP (1997-2010) and selected from an all women shortlist) getting to be Secretary of State under the last Government and only the third woman after Maragret Thatcher (Prime Minister) and Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretay) to hold one of the highest offices of state suggests your statement isn't factually correct.
[quote][p][bold]MJI[/bold] wrote: All x shortlists are nothing but discrimination. . I agree all choices should be open with no pre biasing. . Other parties should take note. . No woman MP from an all woman short list has achieved anything of note, as opposed to open selection ones. . It is insultive to women.[/p][/quote]I'm not sure how you define 'achieved anything of note' but I would have thought Jacqui Smith, (the former Redditch MP (1997-2010) and selected from an all women shortlist) getting to be Secretary of State under the last Government and only the third woman after Maragret Thatcher (Prime Minister) and Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretay) to hold one of the highest offices of state suggests your statement isn't factually correct. 3thinker
  • Score: 2

5:12pm Tue 7 Jan 14

MarkSG says...

The article is factually incorrect.. The shortlist consisted of two men and two women, not three men and one woman. There's no bias there at all.

Quite simply, we had four excellent candidates at the open primary, and only one of them could be selected. Nigel happened to shade it over the others due to his better performance on the night.

Any of the four finalists would have made a good MP for Mid Worcestershire had they been selected. I don't think any of the voters were taking their sex into account at all.
The article is factually incorrect.. The shortlist consisted of two men and two women, not three men and one woman. There's no bias there at all. Quite simply, we had four excellent candidates at the open primary, and only one of them could be selected. Nigel happened to shade it over the others due to his better performance on the night. Any of the four finalists would have made a good MP for Mid Worcestershire had they been selected. I don't think any of the voters were taking their sex into account at all. MarkSG
  • Score: -2

11:04pm Tue 7 Jan 14

voledog says...

There should be women only short lists for every seat in the country and for every political party. Let's try having an all female parliament for 10 years or so and see what happens. Us men (and Thatcher who spent her time in power trying to be more macho than all her male underlings put together) have made a complete mess of it over the last few hundred years. We've invaded other countries, let corporate greed take over, kept the poor at the bottom of the pile and been pretty nasty to many people because of their beliefs, race or sexuality. Maybe if the place had been run by women the country might be a fairer and happier place.
There should be women only short lists for every seat in the country and for every political party. Let's try having an all female parliament for 10 years or so and see what happens. Us men (and Thatcher who spent her time in power trying to be more macho than all her male underlings put together) have made a complete mess of it over the last few hundred years. We've invaded other countries, let corporate greed take over, kept the poor at the bottom of the pile and been pretty nasty to many people because of their beliefs, race or sexuality. Maybe if the place had been run by women the country might be a fairer and happier place. voledog
  • Score: 2

7:27am Wed 8 Jan 14

denon says...

Incorrect reporting ...the open primary in mid worcestershire had two women and two men....the selection was made by the voters of mid worcestershire....an
y one on the electoral register could take part
Incorrect reporting ...the open primary in mid worcestershire had two women and two men....the selection was made by the voters of mid worcestershire....an y one on the electoral register could take part denon
  • Score: 2

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