This letter from Penny Wilkins (Regional Candidates Chair, East Midlands & Vice Chair English Candidates Committee) was submitted to LibDem News for publication, but for some strange
Sir, I took on the job of RCC (Regional Candidates Chair) for the East Midlands in September 2000, because no-one else was prepared to do it. I quickly found myself feeling 'at home' in the English Candidates Committee ethos of transparency and fairness in the Approval and Selection of Parliamentary Candidates. Over recent years I have become more and more concerned at the interference (and attempted interference) of the 'great and the good' and now to cap it all we are hearing stories that Steve Hitchins is, allegedly, offering local parties money as long as they pick the 'right' candidate. With my health failing I am unable to continue to fight against those who want to make our party less fair. I am finding it increasingly difficult to administer a system which is continually being interfered with by people who are prepared to compromise our Party's principles in a dash for power. For that reason I am going to stand down from active politics for the next year to see if our party comes back to its senses, values its principles and allows its members to select the most able person for the job without interference.
Yours, Penny Wilkins
Mr Hitchens and the LibDem Candidates Committee clearly have some explaining to do. However, what I am more interested in is the fact that of 69 seats which have selected candidates in the LibDems, only 15 of them are women - a miniscule 21.7%. Compare this with the Conservative equivalent of 38% and you can see which Party is doing better in selecting women candidates. I have no information as to how many ethnic minority candidates the LibDems have selected.