Monday, August 21, 2006

Candidate Selection: Further, Wider, Faster, Deeper

ConservativeHome has a rather critical, post HERE on the new 'A' List changes to be announced by David Cameron today. The key points to note are...

* 60% of the 150 people on the 'A' list are female
* Associations with fewer than 300 members to be forced to have an Open Primary in which non members can participate and vote
* Target/Con Held seats to have option of Open Primary but if not, full membership of the Association to whittle a shortlist of 12-15 names down to 4. Executive Council to have final choice after 'rigorous job interviews'.
* Two of the final four candidates must be women
* Seats to be given to option of choosing to have an all women shortlist, in which case all members can vote in the final round

I also understand that the definition of 'local candidate' is being revised and will be more restrictive in future.

ConservativeHome points out that nowhere in the new measures is there anything to address the issue of financial exclusion, or indeed any carrot to offer the 450 people not on the 'A' List.

Let's address the positives first. Nearly one third of candidates already selected are women, double the number we had at the last election. That is good progress. In more than 30 selections only 1 constituency failed to include a women in the final shortlist. This would have been unheard of in the past. Ten per cent of our selected candidates are from the ethnic minorities - also good progress. So from that viewpoint the 'A' List is delivering. But if you come from Francis Maude's "further, wider, faster, deeper" school of thought, this progress now needs to be hastened if the Party is to be seen to be changing.

I have heard only good things about Open Primaries. They have so far produced good candidates in the right seats, so I am quite in favour of their role being expanded. However, I remain deeply sceptical about giving non Conservatives voting rights in these selections. Sure, let them attend, participate and ask questions, but I am not sure it should go beyond that. I am also not sure of the logic of forcing smaller Associations to have them but allowing larger ones to choose whether to or not. It's a bit like the old Grant Maintained School logic, where parents were given the right to choose. My argument in those days was that if this was such a great policy, why not make all schools grant maintained and have done with it. The same logic could be applied to Open Primaries. So to that extent I would agree with "further, wider, faster, deeper".

However, the most controversial aspect of these new changes is that for target seats which do not go for Open Primaries, the wider membership will not have a vote on the final candidate. This is being spun as a positive thing in that the wider membership will be involved earlier in the process and draw up the final four, two of whom must be female. I am all in favour of involving as many people as possible at every stage of the process, but I fear that this change will not deliver the result which the leadership expects. By giving the final vote to the Executive Council it may well be that fewer women are chosen. The Executive Councils of Conservative Associations are possibly less representative of the wider populace than the wider membership. Because they are made up of councillors and branch chairmen they may have a higher average age than those who would normally be expected to attend a final selection meeting. Sociologically it is also true that the Executive Council tends to be made up of like-minded people from a narrower social set than the wider Association membership. I live to be proved wrong on this, but I do not think this change will reap the rewards some people think.

Offering Associations the option of all women shortlists will be seen by some as the first step on a very slippery slope. It will be interesting how many Associations avail themselves of this opportunity. And indeed, I wonder how many women would apply for such a seat. As Ann Widdecombe rightly said on the Today Programme: "A woman must be able to look anyone in Parliament in the eye, from the Prime Minister downwards, and be able to think that she got there on exactly the same basis as he did".

Restricting the definition of local candidates is something I can't comment on in depth because I do not know the details. I hope it only means that people not on the general candidates list would have to actually live in the constituency concerned in order to be able to apply for it. That would seem reasonable. But I fear that it may mean that non 'A' Listers who are on the general Candidate's List will find their options restricted even further. If so, it is another blow to those who feel they have been ignored over the last six months.

There are two things I would like to see the Party do now. Firstly, make progress to get a general candidates list which consists of 50% men and 50% women, thus rendering the 'A' List redundant. Secondly, find a way of remotivating and energising the 450 people not on the 'A' List. If that is not done soon we are going to lose an awful lot of very good people.

Declaration of interest: For those who don't know, I was put on the 'A' List in the second tranche.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't be white, don't be male, don't be working class, don't be northern, don't believe in meritocracy.

Great - representative - but exactly who is the party being representative of?

Anonymous said...

Iain - agree with your opinion about letting executives make the decision...but not for the same reasons.

I don't think local executives necessarily are older than the party membership - our local executive includes nearly all the younger and more active members, so is disproportionately people in their thirties and fourties. The membership as a whole on the other hand is as elderly as you would expect.

That said, I still don't see why executives should be expected to make better choices than the wider membership. They are more likely to be cliquey, to be liable to groupthink, certainly it would give an overwhelming advantage to favoured local sons who are mates with all the people on the exec.

If our local association gives the final selection to the executive I'm certain we will re-select our candidate from the last election because the executive is full of his friends and supporters who WILL support him. A full meeting of the membership on the other hand might swing behind a candidate we've not yet considered.

In the case of our local party that doesn't bother me; I very much want our candidate from last time to be re-selected. It would, however, be a bit of a stitch up.

Monty said...

"Further, Wider, Faster, Deeper"
And you said you couldn't write sex Iain!

I agree that something must be done to find a greater number of able women to fight for winnable seats at the next election. But I also want the most able person selected to represent the constituency.

I also feel strongly that the best way for the party to approach elections is to have as candidates local people, who understand local concerns and identify with the local electorate. Could you see this fitting in with your idea of a general candidates list?

John Coles said...

Beats me. How much of this centralised diktat will all of the VOLUNTARY associations continue to take? Will members continue to accept this degree of direction over how they spend their time and money and choose their representatives?

raincoaster said...

I was put on the 'A' List in the second tranche

Is that the B+ list?

There is entirely too much process in this list process. If you're going to the trouble of having a vote at all, why second-guess it with an executive decision at the last moment?

I also agree with you about how voting by non-members is a bad idea. Perhaps this was meant to encourage them to sign up more people and pass the magic 300 mark, but it essentially means that the smaller associations will be subject to gaming by other parties. I'd do it, if I were Labour. And I don't think Labour is stupid enough to pass up this opportunity to ensure the most easily-defeated people get on the list.

bt said...

With the comments I made yesterday on your trailer on this subject having apparently fallen between the cracks in cyberspace, it's time to have another go.

Most voters choose parties that chime with their personal beliefs: to put it crudely, they don't so much join parties as wait for parties to join them, and when the party no longer reflects those beliefs they look elsewhere.
I was a long-standing member of the CP until this year, when I decided I'd had enough of the vapid, content-free, centralising, anti-democratic, don't say anything controversial (or anything with real content, come to that), but-ram-down-their-throats-anything-that-looks-compassionate-and-caring-and-might-get-a-few-soft-votes-agenda that stretched into the future. So I refused to renew my membership and explained why in a letter to the constituency office. (No response, of course. That tells you a lot about this lot, so no vote for Owen Patterson next time.)

Questions:
Has anyone asked the constituency parties or the members if they are willing to sacrifice their autonomy, authority (and possibly, though confirmation from those more knowledgeable than myself would be welcome) their duty as written in their constitution?
Or is it CCO dictat?

I remember voting for leader, but I don't remember being warned that from now on being a member implied becoming a little tin soldier who would be expected to do what he/she was damned well told, because from this date the CP would become the plaything of a bunch of control freaks - and they know best.

OK. To repeat for the umpteenth time - what is happening to the party is reminiscent of what happened to Labour in the 90s. A clique is remaking it in its own image. And like them it's more interested in garnering approving comments in the media than in fulfilling the wishes or aspirations of it's members.

It might be unfashionable and be received with a curled lip, but it's time to go back to basics, to re-assess and ask yourself "What do you really believe in, politically speaking? And does this Conservative Party believe it too? And if not, what are you going to do about it?"
It might save a lot of soul-searching later.

Sorry about the length, but .......

Jonathan M Scott said...

I am absolutely delighted by the reports in today's newspapers that the Party is moving forward on this issue. The low numbers of women selected by Associations was simply unacceptable, and David Cameron is showing the kind of leadership we expect from him; and Francis Maude is proving himself to be a courageous Party chairman.

Executive Councils are generally more progressive on the issue of selecting female PPCs. They are less likely to openly discriminate against women and so we should see the numbers of female PPCs selected increasing in the next round of selections.

To those of you who have been attacking the Party leadership, I say - move on into the 21st century and let's get on with attacking Labour and the LibDems.

Anonymous said...

'I was put on the 'A' List in the second tranche'

Advantages of deferred success, surely?

Anonymous said...

Jonathan - executive councils more representative? Get in the real world! What do you base that assertion on?

oop norf said...

Possibly one reason for keeping the final descision in the hands of a few people is that a few people can be leant on by CCHQ more easily than can an entire association.

ThunderDragon said...

Seems to me to be just an erosion of the only power Conservative members have, in the name of 'positive' discrimination!

Rick said...

My local MP is damned good but only has a 400 vote majority. If they play games with his candidature they will lose their only MP in West Yorkshire and an excellent local representative................it is possible to see the Conservative Party implode if they make too many mistakes

dobbin said...

Have one woman and one man selected for each constituency; if that's more mps than we would like then halve the number of constituencies. Local constituency work is so detailed another pair of hands would help enormously in making parliamentary representation more effective, so there's a good case for leaving the number of constituencies as they stand, or most of them. If Scotland and Wales were to be lopped off, except for federal matters,most of which are decided under Crown prerogative and, therefore, wholly within the prime minister's remit, the English constituencies would be better-represented by no greater numbers than are currently in Parliament.

Vienna Woods said...

I really don't know where the party is headed. David Cameron is starting to give me the willies. He doesn't concentrate hard enough on serious topics, but lets himself be bogged down with things which will always end up in tears. He seems to be an 'ideas man', but not many of them are worth a toss. Unfortunately (and I hope I am wrong), but I have experienced many such young men in my life who continually have ideas, but really don't think them through to a reasonable conclusion, but keep hopping about, trying to appear energetic. In business I have usually let this type go so far and then enumerate their ideas from Plan A to Plan Z and ask them if it would not have been better that they had one plan that was really thought through instead of disrupting the company and employees a merry dance for six months, or more. Usually they buggered off to try and destroy someone else's company, but I don't somehow think we really need this conclusion!

Alan Rogers said...

Agree with all that. And what about homosexual men? Surely the women-only rule further discriminates against them, when the party already has a poor record (being asked to bring your wife to selection events etc).

I read Matthew Parris' autobiog on this ad, to be honest, not a lot has changed.

Why make things even harder?

Robin Hoodie said...

How many hoodies are on the A list and how many have been selected?

the northern soul boy said...

Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't real Conservatism about the family (and meritocracy)?
I know it's not particularly fashionable, but I happen to think many of the modern problems the UK faces (crime, mental health problems, the collapse of marriage, falling standards of education, rampaging property prices) are at least in part due to women (or, at least, both parents in a family) working.
Why do we particularly want women candidates?
The meritocracy argument is similarly obvious.
The Tories are getting into all this just as the fatuousness of it becomes clear to a majority of the public.
Like comedy, it's all about timing.

Splashitallover said...

"This is a local selection, for local folk. We'll have no trouble (makers) here!"

Splashitallover said...

Raincoaster - Labour can't organise themselves, let alone sort out a takeover of other party's branches. Besides, they couldn't afford the membership fees - see today's Telegraph.

Anonymous said...

So the 450 people not on the 'A' list need re-invigorating and re-motivating or the Tory Party will lose them, So its good bye then Iain, I'm sure they'll miss you.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is just New Labour lite. Has there been a significant improvement in the quality of government in the last nine years as a result of the presence of the Blair babes.

If Cameron is really committed to this why doesn't he and his chums give up their safe seats and take on some of the marginals. They would then have a chance to test their theories to (self)destruction.

If he wants his party to be representative, he could hand the task over to Mori. No doubt they can put together a representative sample for him. The trouble is the winners are likey to end up voting for more of the same. Gordon Brown must be looking forward to the next election while he salts away the cash to ensure he goes on and on.

Verity said...

Iain says: "Let's address the positives first. Nearly one third of candidates already selected are women...". Iain, why are you refusing to face facts? That is not a positive. It's a negative. It is hauling the Conservatives back into the failed socialist, Livingstonesque policies of the Seventies. The Tories used to be practical, clear-thinking people (and still are; it's Dave and the other OE's with whom he has insulated himself. I'll bet David Davis did not vote for this lunacy.) Dave probably thinks he's relating to "the little people". Showing how he understands their little worries.

And who TF is Dave to suddenly emerge Aphrodite-like and start giving orders to an ancient, clever party which has always prided itself on its independence of spirit and decision-making?

I never thought I would say this about any individual on earth,including Pol Pot, but I think I hate Dave more than I hate Tony Blair. I wish he would take his Brazilian wax job and get out of our faces and let the British figure out how to repair 10 years of Blair. Has he ever had a solution to anything in his life?

I predict: major loss for the Tories. Mega gains for UKIP and the BNP, which people will use as a protest vote.

Jonathan M Scott said...

Response to anonymous post of 12.17:

I do think that Executive Councils do tend to be more progressive than the overall membership which tends to be older (except in some cases). Many activists are loyal to the Party leadership and see increasing the number of women being elected to Parliament as crucial. They voted for David Cameron - they are not going to shaft him over this issue, are they?

In order to win the next general election we need to be united and follow the lead of our Leader, the next Conservative Prime Minister.

These new rules on candidate selection are being introduced for the benefit of the Party. It is *NOT* about selfish individual members throwing their toys out of their prams and saying 'I don't agree so I'm resigning'. Those members are not team players - we should follow the strategy from CCHQ, otherwise how do we seriously expect to form the next Government?

davyboy said...

As a gay, northern, public sector worker (doctor)with a working class background I'd like to think I'd make a pretty decent non-traditional candidate.

Unfortunately as a white bloke I'd probably loose out to a female city banker with a public school education, kids called Tamara and Oliver and a cut glass accent.

Is this what DC means by diversity? Conservative party's loss I'd say.

Verity said...

Good post by Raincoaster. Dave is stewwwwwwwwwpid. I'd love to see his academic record.

bt - Don't apologise for the length of your post. That was an excellent argument.

jonathan m scott says: "The low numbers of women selected by Associations was simply unacceptable...". To whom, Mr Scott? And why? Please articulate your thoughts. I ask because I find that people who state emphatically "this just isn't acceptable" can never tell you why. They think they've won the argument by adopting the lofty tone.

They're making the Conservative Party into a dog's breakfast, an empty melange of nothingness. Can't we just concentrate on getting qualified, driven, clever, driven people to stand?

Dave makes Tony Blair look shy and unwilling to push himself forward.

northern soul boy - Wise words. Yes, most of the social problems are down to no mother at home. This is how life is; not how Dave and Frances perceive it from the peak. Children need their mothers in the house.

Another point, any women who get shoved to the top of the queue are women who weren't committed or driven enough to get there themselves. Margaret Thatcher, Viginia Bottomly, Edwina Currie, Ann Widdecomb didn't receive preferential treatment. They fought for their place and prevailed.

How are the rest of the Tory MPs going to regard these Prom Princesses being chauffered in, I wonder? My guess: with contempt.

Jonathan M Scott said...

Verity: I apologise for not clarifying why I said "The low numbers of women selected by Associations was simply unacceptable...". I wasn't being lofty, just concise.

It is unacceptable to the Party leadership and to many members. In fact, it is a 'scandal', as our Party Leader has made clear today on ConservativeHome:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/goldlist/2006/08/david_cameron_r.html

"I made it clear from the outset that under my leadership we would take positive steps to tackle the scandal of women’s under-representation in the Conservative Parliamentary Party.

"It is of course unfortunate that we need to discuss candidates in terms of their gender and ethnicity, as if these factors matter more than their character or abilities. Commentators on this thread have made much of the reforms being anti-meritocratic. But does anyone actually believe that meritocracy has applied in the past? It cannot be that the Parliamentary party is 91 per cent male and 99 per cent white, because the men who apply to be candidates are 91 per cent better than the women, and whites are 99 per cent better than minority ethnic candidates. The sad fact is that we have not been open to all the talents of the country in the way that a properly meritocratic party should be.

"I hope that members will not see this issue in terms of local power versus central power, but as a necessary change to improve the way that local associations select candidates. The aim is clear: we must make our benches in the Commons more truly representative of the country we aspire to govern. It is about fairness, it is about better representation for women – but above all it is about effectiveness. We will only be a really effective political fighting force when we are using the talents of all our people."

David Cameron has expressed the reasons why, just as I would have had I had more time to do so i.e.:

* Fairness
* Better representation for women
* Effectiveness

I hope this clarifies the reasons why the Party had to take these steps to address the lack of women PPCs.

m. thatcher (ms.) said...

When will the Tory 'elite' realise that what they think doesn't count?

What counts is the number of 'X's against their candidates name!

Umbongo said...

Sorry Iain I didn't get past your statement "Let's address the positives first. Nearly one third of candidates already selected are women . ."

What's good news about that unless they're good candidates? Oh, I see, they're women and will appeal to . . . who exactly? Anecdote, of course, but no-one I've ever met seriously cares tuppence about "more" women as candidates. Anyone who is remotely interested considers the model for this nonsense - the "Blair Babes" - as the worst thing that's happened to representative democracy since the Test Acts. What "real people" care about (and are appalled by) are the limp "I can spend as much as you" non-policies of Messrs Cameron and Maude: the policies they just will not vote for - even if every Tory candidate is a woman.

Graham E said...

Of all the issues that Cameron could be concentrating on, crime,economy,immigration,Iraq, sleaze ad infinitum, he foists this on the public. Along with his 'hug a hoodie' nonsense this f...king idiot has shown just how out of touch he is. A total f...king idiot who will ensure Brown will reign for years to come.
Get real Cameron...the real people deserve a leader in touch with reality.

Pulsar said...

Bournemouth-cricket boxes no longer optional!

UK Daily Pundit said...

Oh Verity, Verity, Verity. Have they let you out of your room again? Given you access to a computer? They should know better. But I'm sure Nick Griffin will welcome you with open arms. Do you have a release date?

Kate said...

This is a nightmare problem to resolve. We can't continue to have so few women in Parliament, and leaving things as they were and making general 'we need more women' noises clearly wasn't working (I was involved in selecting a candidate for a safe seat a few years ago, and a couple of older female members told me at the final selection meeting that they didn't think a female candidate would be a good idea).

However, if I were looking to secure a seat, I certainly wouldn't want to be there for any reason other than that I was the best available person.

Given greater numbers of women have been selected in recent months, I am a bit disappointed that CCHQ are intervening in this way at this stage.

Adrian Yalland said...

Iain, Open primaraies are a great idea, because they show what the 'wider' pool of voters think, but their decision should not be binding.

The process should be in three stages:

1. The Exce committe invites 6 candidates (three men and three women, one of which at leasr one must be an A lister and at least one of which must be local) to a 'Question Time' format primary. The primary then votes to whittle this selection down to three candidates, of which one must be a women.

The actual maths of the votes should noy be announced (at this stage anyway) in order not to prejudice the second round, where...

2. ...the Association membership then choose the final candidate after a hustings event.

This gives the Executive the ability to choose a wide selection of candidates from the approved list (keeping the executive happy), as well as the A list (keeping DC happy) and the 'local pool' (keeping the locals happy). The primaries sort out who are the strongest three candidates (keeping the local press happy) and the association make the final choice (keeping the local association happy). All the candidates have a fair crack at the whip (keeping the candidates happy), and hopefully, we win the next election on the basis of having better quality candidates, selected from across geogrpahic, gender, sexual and colour backgrounds (keeping the country happy)!

Everyone's a winner on my world!

Adrian Yalland said...

Verity - can I (as a man) tell you why it is unaceptable to have so few women in Parliament, particularly on the Tory bebches.

1. Because 50% of the population are women!

2. Because there are 'issues' which affect women much more than men, and whilst men 'can' represent women on these issues, and we 'don't have to' have women to resolve these issues, I feel that with input from women on these issues, they might get resolved better and faster

3. If there are more Labour and Lib Dem women in Parliament, then we need more Tory women to counteract them

4. Women in general are a civilising influence on men, and men are nicer people when women are around (or at least I am a nicer person when around a women that when around a man - but maybe I am just old fashioned)

5. Because the public feel they want to see more women in politics

6. Because more women want to get into politics, but they feel there is no point as they will be discriminated again simply because they are women

7. Because the 2nd best prime minister this country has ever had was a women

8. Because variety is good, women are pretty, the central lobby smelles nicer when there are women around, and because women simply have things to contribute and to say that are worth listening to!

9. Because all (or most) of the people I love most are women (my wife, my sister, my mother and my daughter), and they all have wonderful qualities which I would love to see more of in politics

10. Because not all women are obsessed with shopping for shoes or polishing their nails, or want to be stay at home mums (some do, some don't).

The question should be "Why shouldn't there be more women in politics"? Perhaps you could give me ten reasons why?

chicken said...

Totally agree Verity

Anonymous said...

Mr Scott - again based on what experience? Of one constituency maybe?? Execs are not representative and at least with the whole association it opens it up to everyone - Arent we all about democracy?

My god "we should follow the strategy from CCHQ" must be the most amusing comment Ive heard in a while!

I wouldnt quote CCHQ as being the font of all knowledge. Wasnt it from CCHQ that plans to remove the vote from the membership in the last leadership election came? Perhaps you'd advocate that too?

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced open primaries have produced particularly good candidates. Maybe my knowledge isn't great enough but I don't think many if any candidates selected by such a process have actually become MPs, have they?

Verity said...

jonathan m scott says it's a scandal because the party leader says it is. I think you will detect a lack of logic in that reply if you think about it.

uk daily pundit - On the other hand ... men are less articulate when they're offended, aren't they, Mr Pundit? You are so angry you could only try to insult me (failed) and couldn't make a valid point. Pathetic.

Adrian Yalland, Yes, we get it. You're a fan of women. That doesn't mean they should be legislating. I don't want a Parliament so full of apes that they need some women around the modify their behaviour.

I would be delighted to be represented by an intelligent black man who shares my points of view and who is an effective debater. Or a Chinese man. (I'd vote for Martin Li in a NY minute!) My representative doesn't have to be white just because I am white. And they don't have to be a woman just because I am a woman. What next? Age quotas? With so many OAPs, they ought to be entitled to an entire tranche of their own candidates.

This is one more stupid, vapid PR wheeze that Dave has come up with without having accorded the Conservative Party the respect of having thought it through. Devised over a dinner party with lots of shrieks of knowing laughter as another bottle goes around. Dear God.

Where is the outcry among women for more women legislators? Where? There isn't one. It's not an issue to women. It's an issue to stupid men who think they can see inside a woman's brain. (Smart men do not so presume.)

Let us get smart, alert, driven people to do battle for us. If some of them are women whose driving ambition has always been to get into Parliament,fine, let's give them a hearing. They will get themselves onto short lists by hook or by crook.

But enforcing political correctness (which is so bloody passé now anyway) on the party reeks of lunacy.

As I said on another thread on this issue, this is the longest, fussiest, most fidgety political suicide note in history.

Heather said...

Hello Iain,

Good God, you've got lots of comments! Huge fan of your blog... slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Ok I've eaten my supper, done the washing up,fed the dog, although she doesn't deserve it after eating my lunch. Have just added your link to my site. Can I ask where you are going to put me? I like to think I'm funny, but my friends tell me I'm not at all amusing.

Does this mean I have to vote tory now? Actually I'm a "floating voter", so I may well do. My family will be so pround.

Keep up the good work. From one "disgusted" resident to another.

Heather

Iain Dale said...

Heather, your blog links disappear when your blog looadsl. In fact the whole right hand column does.

UK Daily Pundit said...

ICM poll out tomorrow showing Cameron at 40%. It's getting interesting.

Heather said...

Hello Iain, ok all sorted, sorry I'm a complete twit with the computer.

Adrian Yalland said...

Firstly, I must learn not to type after my 47th cup of Cawfeeeee!

Verity, yes I am a fan of women, but that is not the sole reason I want more of them in Parliament (and it is athere shouldn't be more women in Parliament?

I agree that many of the problems we face stem from family break down and kids having no mother. But why does that mean we shouldn't have women in Parliament? I don't see the link?

In fact, a women who would much rather be at home with her kids but is economically unable to stay at home, would, if allowed to get in through St. Stephen's entrance, make a great Parliamentary advocate for issues which would enable more women to stay at home than a man who is just reading from a pressure group breifing paper and will never benefit from the changes he is arguing for!

In other words, I can argue for changes in the provision of child care (or whatever the argument might be), but I won't have as much credibility or motivation as a women who will actually see her life drastically improved by it!

I was raised by a single mum who had 4 kids, two jobs, a mortgage she couldn't afford and manic depression. But she worked her butt off at being a great mum and also tried to fill the gaps that an absent father left behind. I never lacked for love, food or fun! That kind of experience and success (which cannot be reflected on the bottom line of a balance sheet, or in the number of cases won in court) would bring wonders to the political process if only it were allowed through the door!

I don't feel at all that women’s issues can only be dealt with by women, or that Black issues only by black people. But the fact that women’s issues can be dealt with by men does not mean that they should only be dealt with by men!

If women want to be politicians, then they should be encouraged to be so - and not prevented from achieving their goals because (a) old farts think it is a man's job or (b) the Tory Party is afraid of being accused to selling out to political correctness for recognising that an injustice needs addressing!

Not to do this is anti-choice and in many cases wrong!

Talented and able candidates and women candidates are not mutually exclusive! We can have talented women candidates - as the women you point as examples prove. But what you fail to recognise is that if a man has to get 10 out of ten to get selected, a women has to get 12 out of ten! That's wrong - and all I want is for a level playing field for women in the Tory party! If we don't have that then we don't have the meritocratic party we claim we are!

It's not about elevating tokenism, but bringing down prejudice and sexism! Try looking at it from the other way!

Also, the fact that many of the population now 'demand' more women MPs means that the political party's should start 'supplying' them!

Finally, I know from personal experience of knocking on doors canvassing and the studies on the issue that I did at University (many moons ago) that many more wavering and floating female voters would vote for a party that has a 'feminine side' as well as a masculine side. Mrs. Thatcher illustrated many aspects of 'masculine politics' which were very popular with men. Tony Blair had many feminine 'qualities' which means he connected with women (and David Cameron is doing the same - making emotional rather than logical appeals - it's a 'Mars and Venus thing').

If we create a party which is able to reflect the qualities of both males and female - tough, firm, but caring, then we instantly widen our appeal without having to resort to endless policy explanations or yah-boo politics.

It's the politics of emotion as much as the politics of policy these days!

Jonathan M Scott said...

Adrian's excellent post on the ten reasons why it's unacceptable (oops, used that word again) to have so few women in Parliament is exactly why I think it is so.

Verity, I did not say I think it is unacceptable because the Party Leader said so. I used his post to indicate some of the reasons why it is, in my view, unacceptable. As an academic, I am perfectly capable of freedom of thought and I can assure you I know my logic from my illogic!

vikki said...

You guys lost me! I was pretty sure I was reading a PhD thesis:-) adrian yalland?

Verity said...

Adrian Yalland says: "I agree that many of the problems we face stem from family break down and kids having no mother. But why does that mean we shouldn't have women in Parliament? I don't see the link?"

Neither do I. I cannot think we you have loaded family breakdown etc onto my arguement, as I never made it. I don't think it's the government's business to be concerned with family breakdown. People must look after themselves.

The government should be running the economy and that is all.

I have said consistently that clever, motivated women who get themselves elected to Parliament are probably valuable because they are so motivated. Women who would never have stood for Parliament without massive help from the party are of absolutely no value whatsoever, and are indeed, counterproductive.

I admire your mother for her accomplishment, but this has nothing to do with women getting shovelled into Parliament.

Average guy on the street said...

I have spent some time reading with interest Adrian Yalland's and Verity's "arguement" - sorry, but I can't think of a better word there. You both have valid points. There should be more women in Parliament but only on merit.

Why is it, however, that this has taken so long. It is coming up to 90 years since when women had equal rights to stand for parliament as men (or so I think, I was a little confused by this as it appeared to me to be the equivalent now of the country being run by 9 year olds - due to the diference in the voting age back then). I could go on for hours about this but I won't. Just because I am interested in social and political history (particularly early 20th century) it doesn't mean anyone else is.

Having said all that, however, I don't care if my local MP is male, female, or even monkey! As long as he is the best person for the job and is local.

For information, I am actually a woman - the "guy" in my pseudonym is meant to mean "person" and not "bloke". I believe passionately in an equal society.

Sorry for the rather long rant, by the way.

Adrian Yalland said...

Verity, my mother has everything to do with 'shoeveling women into Parliament'! The point is that, had she wanted to go into politics, she would almost have certainly have been prevented from doing so because The Tory Party would never have let a women stand who didn't at least have a very rich husband and a pretty impressive career, and because she wasn't posh, rich or plummy enough. Thank God that is changing, and women (indeed men as well) outside of the traditional MP recruiting groiunds (the Unions, the public service, law and busines) and now stand a chance of contributing their skills and expereince - to the benefit of all!

Adrian Yalland said...

Average Guy. I too could not care less if the person representing me was black, white, male, female, gay, straight, or a mix of the above.

What I care about is are they the best person for the job.

Now, those who take Verity's view would say 'how can they be the best person for the job if they have been unfairly advanced simply to fill a quota'?

A great question. But I reverse it. How can I be sure the person representing me is the best person for the job if I the selection process routinely discriminates against 50% of the population!

Verities view rests on an assumption that we are already living in a situation where there are no barriers to advancement for women as long as they are 'forceful' enough. I take the opposite view, which is women are still largely discriminated against, and as a result the 'man' that might just be the 'best person for the job' is actually a women who will never get the chance to prove it!

Verity said...

Adrian Yalland - You are overlaying your own thoughts on my posts, or you are wifully misunderstanding.

I have not read your last two posts all the way through because you are too prolix. And repetitive. I've already answered all your points

Adrian Yalland said...

Verity,

Firstly, if you have not read my last two posts all the way through, then how do you know that you have answered all my points?

Secondly, I said those who 'take Verity's view'..... Not 'verity says....'

I then went on to make a fair critique of your view, which I can prove from your own words on this very blog.

So far from overlaying anything, I am merely refelcting your own argument back to you and asking you to justify it.

Incidently, you also stated "I find that people who state mphatically "this just isn't acceptable" can never tell you why".

I disproved your point and gave you ten reasons why it was unaceptable - none of which you tried to answer, except by dismissing them all in a quite foolish way - by saying "yes we get it, you are a fan of women"!

So, far from 'having answered all my points', all you have done is dismiss them rather than challenge them.

Finally, I don't know if you have ever sat on selection committees for Tory Associations. Well I have and I can tell you that until recently, if you were a women, black or gay, you had a very much reduced chance of getting selected than a white married middle class barrister! On many occassions, the person that I felt was one of the strongest candidates, and even in some cases, the strongest candidate, didn't even get invited for interview or shorlisted because the selection committe thought she should be at home baking cakes and supporting her husbands political ambitions!!!

That, I am sorry to say, is fact!

Scally said...

Adrian,

re Verity -

just leave her, she's not worth it