Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thoughts on Candidate Selection

When I applied for Bracknell I made much of the fact that I hadn't applied for other constituencies. None of the other candidates were able to say that. A fat lot of good it did me! It also meant that when the next batch of constituencies were advertised (Esher, Gosport, Devizes & Central Suffolk among them), I felt I couldn't in all conscience apply for any of them while I was still in for Bracknell, as the deadline was a week before the Bracknell final.

Others took a different approach. Rory Stewart was in for Penrith while Bracknell was going on, and Katy Lindsay was in for Woking and Sleaford. For Rory it worked out, for Katy it didn't (but she WILL be a great MP for a very lucky constituency!).

I still don't know whether I was (or am) right to do one at a time. All I know is that I can only apply for constituencies which I feel I can connect with, and which I have some affinity with. However, some commenters on here seem to think that unless you can prove you have lived somewhere all your life you should be excluded from applying. Rubbish. Was Margaret Thatcher a bad MP for Finchley? Is Nick Clegg a bad constituency MP because he doesn't come from Sheffield? Does anyone think David Ed Miliband can't represent Doncaster properly because he isn't a local?

And anyway, what constitutes local? Phillip Lee lived 10 miles from Bracknell and so had a claim to be a local, yet living 5 miles outside Henley was enough to bar him from applying to be the candidate there in the by-election - not local enough, you see.

I live twenty minutes from Beckenham and Orpington. Does that make me a local or an outsider? Is that really the main criteria by which we should be judging a candidate? Shouldn't we be picking candidates who can do the best job in representing a constituency and who would make the best parliamentarians? That person may or may not be local to the area at the time of selection.

Meanwhile, I have just finished reading one of the more ridiculous posts on ConservativeHome I have read in many a month. Its readers have submitted twenty ideas to help get more women selected. While some have some merit, others are positively patronising and wrong-headed. I feel in the mood for a light fisk... My comments are in green.
  1. End strong arm tactics: "Strong arm tactics can backfire and probably will in some areas". Another said: "CCO have interfered so much that every Association is suspicious women aren't there on merit. Stop all positive discimination and go back to a level playing field." It's got to the stage where people think some of the men aren't there on merit either. Six is too many for a final selection. Associations should be given the power to kick out one man and one woman before the final takes place, leaving a final of 2+2.
  2. Promotional video: Make a YouTube video featuring Priti Patel and Philippa Stroud and our other impressive female candidates. They could explain how they succeeded in becoming candidates. Fair enough, but why restrict it to women. Many men have succeeded against the odds too.
  3. Headhunt from female-dominated backgrounds: "More women attracted onto the Candidates List from careers where women dominate, including teaching and healthcare" plus "Targeting the public sector and small businesses to encourage more women to come forward who are not Westminster centric in their backgrounds." Exactly. The key to this is to get more women to come forward in the first place. If there are 30% on the candidates list, don't be surprised that 30% are being selected. So yes, headhunting and tapping on shoulders is a good idea.
  4. A more balanced candidates list: CHQ putting more women and less men on the approved list in the firstplace. I agree with this. The key thing to do would be to ensure a 50-50 candidates list, alongside 50-50 final selections. At the moment the issue is being tackled from the wrong end.
  5. Tackle the financial handicap facing women candidates: "Bursaries for full time mothers who otherwise might not afford the process of candidate selection", "Setting up a scheme to give financial help to PPCs on moderate incomes with child care needs" and "More support for selected candidates in fighting elections so that all candidates can balance family, childcare and the cost of the campaign." I suggested a bursary scheme for people who find affording being a candidate difficult back in 2005. But this should apply to all candidates, not just women.
  6. Force rich candidates to declare special help: Make candidates declare whether they have had specialist coaching. Many rich men have paid for special help. Associations should know this. Utter bollocks. I've never paid for any form of coaching and never will, but to suggest that it should be declared is ridiculous. Most of the time it's perfectly obvious who has been coached and who hasn't.
  7. Reduce the burdens on candidates: Many female candidates are put off by the endless Association events and the requirement to attend every by election. Allow them to focus on the essential. And, er, how is this different for men? A decent candidate comes to an accomodation with his or her association over what is appropriate. A candidate who lets themselves be steamrollered is perhaps in the wrong job.
  8. A more family-friendly House of Commons: Better childminding facilities in House of Commons and more family friendly hours. Yes to the first. And a limited yes to the second. I am more interested in hours which get the job done. Being an MP is not a 9-5, 5 day a week job and never can be. Deal with it.
  9. More protection from the media for MPs and their families: A party leadership that protects MPs when the media mob goes after them. Any mother will have noted that Cameron threw his MPs to the wolves. Rubbish and an idiotic interpretation of what has happened. The outside world will never know how much the party leadership and whips do to help people in difficulties with the media. It's not the sort of thing they shout about, strangely enough.
  10. Shadow cabinet mentoring: Every shadow cabinet minister should adopt a female candidate and be encouraged to help her get selected. I have no problem with mentoring, but for a shadow cabinet to "help get her selected" would surely be wrong, depending on what that help entails. No one objects to a CV endorsement - we all have them. But it is difficult to see what this proposal means beyond that.
  11. Move to open primary ballots: It was not an accident that a woman won in Totnes when it was tried. And who will pay for them, exactly? In Totnes two of the three candidates were women. I'd like to see some more of these pure open primaries and then we can draw some proper lessons from them.
  12. Independent guidance for Associations: At the start of every selection meeting a professional headhunter should talk to the Association about the value of female candidates. If this person is a professional and not a CCHQ functionary they will get a hearing. No, a headhunter should talk about what an local association should be looking for in a good candidate, be they male or female.
  13. 'Blind sifting': At sift stage no indication given as to age, sex background etc of candidate. An interesting proposal. Age isn't included on the CV anyway, so we can rule that out. Nor is marital status. How on earth is an Association to choose if they aren't allowed to know about the background of a candidate. Are you saying names should be taken out too?
  14. A less macho selection process: No speeches in selection contests. They favour men. Use sofa style interviews. One respondent wrote: "A selection method that involves more than just the ability to "perform" to a large audience. This is why women don't do well. The entire process is geared up to assess only the ability to perform in a "question time" style arena. Ability to influence legislation, work in committee and connect to constituents is entirely absent from the final stages of the assessment. It is no wonder that we end up with MPs who lack integrity and ability, since they've only been assessed on a single dimension - the ability to charm an audience - which is directly correlated with the ability to manipulate, and almost entirely unconnected with the ability to add real value. We select "talking heads" not good decision makers. It depends whether you want MPs who are good at talking or good at doing. We get the former, but not the latter." Another wrote: "Less focus on just the big meeting. Women are often very good on the doorstep and in chairing, participating in meetings - not just a few gags in a big meeting. As a candidate, the doorstep and meeting side is so very important." This really gets to me. Does anyone seriously suggest that women aren't just as capable as men of making speeches? Making speeches is a pretty vital part of being an MP and a parliamentarian. Some are better at it than others. There are plenty of men who can't make a speech to save their lives. The Open Primary system, with the interview, reduces the importance of speeches, but surely we should expect a politician to be able to stand on their hind legs and string a few words together? Obviously the job entails far more than speechmaking, but much of the other things mentioned above are tested in the day long course which you have to do to get on the candidates list in the first place.
  15. Punishment of sexism: Expulsion of any Tory member who asks sexist questions. No questions of a sexist nature or regarding a candidate's family are allowed at a selection.
  16. ConHome should "bless" "sound" candidates: Too many women candidates are newly recruited and we don't know if they are true conservatives. The grassroots trust ConHome and its blessing would carry weight. You what?! Since when was ConservativeHome the arbiter of what makes a true Conservative?! Possibly the most outrageous suggestion of all. And one I hope Tim Montgomerie will give short shrift to. The Conservative Party is a coalition. The fact that Dan Hannan and Ken Clarke are both true Conservatives should be a cuase for celebration in our party, not a matter for division.
  17. Pooled selections: Multiple selections - people may be more willing to pick a mixture if they have to pick more than one. I have no idea what this means.
  18. Require constituency selection panels to be balanced: Require the selection panel to be balanced by age and gender and allow them to choose from any number of males and females on a shortlist. Most constituencies do this anyway in my experience. The A List is dead for all intents and purposes. So a constituency gets to pick from all applicants, although admittedly the number on the shortlist is now 6 - 3 men and 3 women.
  19. Executive committee selection: Revert to selection by constituency executive committee, thus cutting out the large numbers of older women heavily prejudiced against women candidates and especially opposed to women candidates with children. No. Open Primaries reduce the risk of this, assuming that the risk still exists. I would say selection by a constituency executive would be counterproductive. I just don't buy this line that nowadays it's the women who scupper the women. It might have been true in the past, but not now. Or am I wrong?
  20. Patience: The number of women candidates has grown a lot in last few years. It will grow again with time. Rushing the issue will lead to inferior women candidates getting selected. Much progress has been made. We should never be afraid of adopting new initiatives, but not for their own sake. I think going from 9% to 30% women candidates is not bad progress. To expect it to go to 40% or 50% in one leap was never realistic.
So, what other ideas would readers of this blog come up with for helping the Conservative Party along the way to choosing more diverse candidates. I could never support the concept of all minority shortlists for reasons I have explained before. But it is clear that there is still some way to go in persuading some constituencies of the benefits of selecting a woman - and not just in the Conservative Party. Those who think the Conservatives have some way to go in this area just need to look at the record of the LibDems in selecting woman and ethnic minorities in winnable seats. At least the Conservatives are taking action.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think one of the problems has been that the good female candidates have been spread too thin by appearing in too many finals. For example Katy Lindsay apparently had Bracknell and Sleaford finals on successive days. Even the greatest candidate is going to have trouble relating well in two such different places on the same weekend.

Also, one small correction - David Miliband represents South Shields (Doncaster North is represented by Ed Miliband).

objet petit a said...

I'd stop focusing on "diversity" as an end in itself and stick to searching for the most intelligent and articulate candidates you can find, regardless of background/colour/gender etc and "diversity" will come of its own accord.

Peace, brother.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Pooled selections: Multiple selections - people may be more willing to pick a mixture if they have to pick more than one. I have no idea what this means.

I was the one who posted that suggestion ad looking back it's not as clear as it could be.

The basic idea is that when more than one association in an area has to pick a candidate, they could have a joint selection. (Labour did something similar for the first Welsh Assembly elections whereby associations were paired.) It's very difficult for an individual association to pick a diverse mix when it's only picking a single candidate, but if you have to pick multiple candidates then it's more likely to happen whilst choice is retained.

Another possibility is to adapt the City Seats Initiative. The downside is that candidates would have to commit to a group of constituencies for longer, but activists would get to see them in action and pick on more than a CV and speech.

Tom said...

The Lib Dems have winnable seats?

trevorsden said...

Seems to me this sorry list just reinforces the need for a temprary all women selection process.
And a lot of your repsonses were - isn't this the same for men? which really is not the point - the argument is that not enough able women are getting through.

Life and circumstances generally mitigate against women candidates. BUT --- if the Party really wants to get more women it needs to act accordingly and give them a leg up.
It ill behoves you and others Mr D to then whinge like stuck pigs when the party does precisely that.

Adrian said...

17 means doing more than 1 seat at a time.

DomFisher said...

8 & 20 only.

Anonymous said...

Really trevorsden? So how has the party managed to have a female leader and female Prime Minister. The issue is females are not applying.. so you can encourage them to apply.

Given open primaries also chose two men which then prompted the party to consider AWS are you saying the public also needs to be TOLD what sex they should have as their candidate.

Do you believe you need to be a woman to represent women? A man to represent men? Homesexual to represent homosexual interests?

Frankly AWS smack of New Labour box ticking and why should the Conservative party entertain it?

paulstpancras said...

You're too honest and honourable, Iain, there aren't enough like you. Which is why politicians are generally loathed alongside journalists and estate agents.

True Belle said...

Iain,

WOW, you are a mind reader. Loved every word of your tearing apart of the Conhome article.

Yes, I also agree with you that Clarke and Hannan are true Conservatives , everyone else is a much paler shade of blue , well almost.

Misogynist ConHome, they will never ever alter, will they.

Bardirect said...

A point I made on ConHome some months go about my own area:

"Never heard of this candidate before today. That is telling.

She needs to get out onto the bloody doorstep and start nursing the constituency and not wait for the stupid "johnny come lately" Editor of "Intouch" sort of stuff and the simple photo op with the Whelan's.

She's got the time to do it.

In 20 years in this constituency I've never had my vote canvassed and previous candidates from Julian Samways to Kim Humphrys have looked like token candidates with no expectation of winning.Now anything can happen.

A good point to make would be that the Conservatives are going to get in so the best representative will be a member of the governing party!"

The fact is that leg work produces results. Where do we see evidence of this sort of effort by candidates? Searching for a "safe seat" like Bracknell is one thing but in anything more marginal leg work is required. Undortunately I suspect that within any Parliamentary constituency decisions are made about which "constituency" will be courted or otherwise. In South London, and other Metropolitan areas, that is not really seeking a "mandate".

Selection is only part of the angram of election.

Tom said...

It was funny on the Daily Politics on Tuesday when they went through the numbers and percentages of female MPs in each party - they gave percentages for all three parties but only the actual number of female MPs for the Tories and Labour - I suppose the Lib Dems' paltry nine was just too pathetic to merit a mention...

Quietzapple said...

I started reading you apparently interesting green comments . . but . . I'm too old or tired . .

As a council candidate and agent I used to take a very strong localist attitude towards fighting where I was and suggesting the same to others.

When I left Labour for the Greens I stood outside the area I had represented and still lived in to fight an attention getting campaign, which worked, while not getting me elected.

Having had my experiences I think you should look to be capable of sufficient empathy for the places you decide to apply for. Do you think it could be mutual?

It isn't like love, it is like applying for a job, and that is an obvious and excellent analogy.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your early point about standing in multiple constituencies.

At the last election I found it incredibly annoying, in spite of the fact that I helped our MP get elected that a) he wasn't a local and b) that those around him seemed to be equally if not more disconnected with the constituency.

By local, I simply mean a person who is in some convincing way, connected to the area. They don't have to have been born there, they might have moved in in recent years but I don't just mean the last 24 either. They can have a different accent but still be knowledgeable of the local issues, that wouldn't bother me. They could have run a business, worked or had some other kind of stake in the constituency.

They need to have some way of saying to the voters that they know the place and they understand it. I expect candidates to have a comprehensive knowledge of my area if they expect me to vote for them to look after it.

You might think, with this view, I am purely of the mind that you can only stand for one constituency. I am not. BUT, if you are going to stand for another I would expect the same criteria to be met and feel that that would dictate the surrounding constituencies as your other options. Standing in two areas some 100 miles apart would not be appropriate.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Agree with you that "being local" should not count in determining who will be an excellent MP, both as a parliamentarian (especially this) and as a good constituency MP. However with the system of "primaries" adopted by the Conservative party (which btw I applaud and would love to take part in even though I am merely a potential Tory voter) it seems to me that the "local" candidate will always have a fairly hefty advantage. People generally have greater faith in a local person to represent them more conscientiously than an outsider. I would take local to mean someone who has lived and probably worked within close proximity to a constituency for at least 5 years if not longer. Its just a fact of life.

As for "promiscuity" in application for candidacies I would say that not being promiscuous is the principled approach, endearing to a lot of people. Being promiscuous is "real politik" for which potential candidates cannot be blamed. Its a matter for your own conscience though it would be hypocritical to take the moral high ground (of the variety that you are really really interested in helping out folks from constituency xyz when really all you want to do is get you foot in the door) when being promiscuous.

Roger Dodger said...

Can somebody please give me a reason why we should actively encourage women?

Who really gives?

gordon-bennett said...

This issue is only about putting the Conservatives in a bad light.

If we reach the position where the Conservatives have a larger percentage of women than nulab, whether by evolution or mad schemes, then the topic will be dropped immediately.

Elliot Kane said...

I'm pretty much persuaded by open primaries as the great equaliser, honestly. Douglas Carswell makes a great case for them and his idea of 'piggybacking' the polling sheets on other things sent out anyway to keep costs to a minimum would make it far more viable than the cost of the Totnes primary would suggest.

There's simply no way a selection process can be biased for or against any candidate if all the locals have a say in selecting that candidate. It's likely the best will win regardless of all else, which is the way it should be.

What all parties need are not more candidates of type X, Y, or Z, but better candidates full stop. Open primaries will hopefully help.

J R Hartley said...

To answer your question Iain.

Yes - Ed Milliband can't represent Doncaster properly.

1) He has never had a real job in his life.
2) He's a carpet bagger.
3) He is a metropolitan liberal.
4) He is a career politician - ie interested in his career.
5) He won't have the stomach for opposition politics.

In essence he's a policy twonk who has n o t h i n g in common with the good people of Doncaster. They have been badly served by their locally elected Labour officials until recently - they don't need a proxy-MP such as Milliband. He has no affinity with his constituency. Not too dissimilar to Mr Balls!

If you're thinking about a constituency - try and imagine whether the locals would have affinity with you - are you comfortable enough in your own skin amonsgt yuor constituents or do you have to fake it ala Milliband Jr?

Mike Law said...

Having previously been a Labour Party member for many years in East London (and now a Conservative Party member), I think it all about how the party is perceived by Joe Public.

If the Tories want to have a more diverse group of candidates they must first attract a more diverse membership; sadly, Labour propaganda has been, and still is, very effective at labelling the Tories the "Nasty" Party and a Party for the elite.

Anonymous said...

Come to Orpington Iain - we'd love to have you!

tapestry said...

I am not sure Cameron really wanted women only shortlists. It was like a reversion to an earlier David Cameron, when he was up against Blair, and he said things that placed him onside with Labour spinmeisters.

Funny how Blair, speaking through Rimiband, is now back in the game, alleging holocaust denial against Cameron, isolationism and other fury - all caused by his standing up to Lisbon.

As regards women only shortlists, it's like Cameron went back to throwing some crumbs to the control freakery of the europhiles, for a minute or two, to throw off the Lisbon lynch mob.

I like the idea of male and female sections in arriving at a final four 2 + 2. Nice compromise.

Women: Know your limits said...

People are totally fed up with this political correctness, yet no one has the courage to just up and say it's all a load of bollocks.

Blair had more female MPs than ever, and what difference did it make, other than the most supine parliament in history.

Sean Haffey said...

I think a few things have been missed.

1. Stay legal It is staggering that political parties can do things (like all woman lists) that would be illegal in business. This behaviour - one rule for them, another for us - is a classic example of why politics has fallen into deep disrepute.

2. Stop patronising women Women and men are different, not just biologically but also behaviourally too. Yet we don't recognise this and so expect women to succeed in a male-dominated environment and when that's harder for them to do we bend the rules to enable them to succeed. Which gives us female politicians like Maggie Thatcher (a great machine gunner, right?) rather than building on areas where women's strengths can be played to.

3. Sort out the selection office at CCHQ After I blogged on my own issues getting through the process (18 months after first expressing an interest I am still waiting to hear back) I had a number of people contact me to explain some of the issues. These apparently include just 2 people sorting though thousands of applications. Did they not realise this will take an age, thereby putting off many of the very people they should be encouraging?

4. Local Candidates Whenever this is raised, examples of Maggie Thatcher are raised. This is exactly the wrong way of thinking about it: how many excellent people have been rejected because other candidates, who know little of their targeted constituency, are parachuted in? And having been parachuted in and won, go on to pay a lot more attention to the party machinery that put them there than their constituency.

--

We are building a political elite: those for whatever reason favoured by CCHQ in an increasingly obscure and non-meritocratic process. There are many good people on that list (like you, Iain) but many many more who don't tick the 'right' boxes. This is profoundly undemocratic.

We worry, rightly, about too few women Tory MPs. Why don't we worry about too many Etonians, for example? I guess about 0.1% (and probably a great deal less) of adults went to Eton: how can it possibly be that about 10% of Tory MPs are Old Etonians? Where are the middle class MPs, who've worked a career, or been a stay-at-home parent and understand the real issues?

In my view, the problem is less at the local constituencies and more at the centre.

lilith said...

As a feminist, I am appalled by the idea of women only shortlists. Patronising and undemocratic. Who does Dave think he is? The People's Prime Minister?

Anonymous said...

iain.

Just keep trying !
You have much to offer and evidence to show your ability and competence,especially regarding handling the media.The latter likely to be much in demand if DC wins the election. The `rabid left` will be ranting and raving at the unfairness of it all.
Potential of Junior Culture Minister at least.... Providing you get a seat!

Fenman

waddell said...

Iain - I read your list and found myself nodding with you all the way through. With regard to point 17, I wonder if it means six constituencies joining together to choose six candidates. Then there might be more diversity among them and more flexibility to choose six rather than one! But it strays too far from local accountability and how would the constituencies negotiate the candidates between them.

My big idea is simply "time". Great strides have been made and if the will is there, a more representative parliament will come about in time.

waddell said...

Iain - I read your list and found myself nodding with you all the way through. With regard to point 17, I wonder if it means six constituencies joining together to choose six candidates. Then there might be more diversity among them and more flexibility to choose six rather than one! But it strays too far from local accountability and how would the constituencies negotiate the candidates between them.

My big idea is simply "time". Great strides have been made and if the will is there, a more representative parliament will come about in time.

Quietzapple said...

Alternatively . .

. . . If Labour abandoned (somehow) its "wimmin" who so annoy so many Tories and so fourth . .

. . . might a reciprocal arrangement for All All women tory shortlists be adopted by Mrs Thatcher's party?

You might enjoy being an agent, Iain?

Anonymous said...

I'm a woman on the list.
a sales professional - perhaps sales sounds off-putting.
But a career in sales has given me every attribute that I need. from having the right attitude towards the selection process; the skills for running a successful campaign and ultimately to being a good MP.
Now I come to think of it - perhaps i'd better make that the basis for a short article somewhere.

trevorsden said...

Of course women only short lists are patronising and undemocratic - but this sorry list pints to the difficulties of getting able women in the frame for selection. I can only repeat IF you (and its clear that some commentators do not) want to get more women and more diverse representation in the short run then there is not much alternative.

"So how has the party managed to have a female leader and female Prime Minister" -- Oh dear that old chestnut.
First - its clear that Thatcher was a wholly remarkable candidate in the first place (we were lucky she got through).
Second - where is the next 'Thatcher'? busy being blackballed no doubt.
Third - Thatchers own preferred choice for leader was Keith Joseph.
Fourth - she only stood in the end because the male alternatives were wimps.

And lets not forget - how many women are there now in the PCP ? 19. Who is saying that is right? Don't tell me in the face of nut-jobs trying to get their moat cleaned and their duck house painted that the men in the party are so brilliant that we can only find room for 19 women.

No one is answering that question -- tough for you to face the fact - but your bigots.

Your upset? Well prove your not, do something about it.

Unsworth said...

Women and speeches. Dunwoody, Thatcher, etc - all very inspiring. Yes, some women can give superb speeches - as can some men - but that should be allied to ability and integrity, too.

J R Hartley said...

Who 'da thought it Iain. Political Class apparatchik and carpet-bagger gets the Barrow labour nomination afterall....

http://www.nwemail.co.uk/home/new_labour_candidate_revealed_1_628336

Another "non-jobber" tring to get in to Westminster ....

Caligula's horse said...

In other words, if a women is elected she is there because she was put there by decree (or bought the position, like certain people have been known to already), not because she is competent. A bit like soviet restaurants that had a great menu but actually only two icky dishes on offer...

The BNP will get lots of votes I fear... not only because they still select by merit, but also, because the Tory process guarantees mediocrity by putting the mediocre in charge, and it goes against the very grain of democracy too because it reduced voting to a formality that merely rubber stamps the leaderships' decree.

None of those special needs politicians will be able to stand up against any real politician who has learnt the trade properly, paid the dues and won the votes the honest way.

Maybe the sexist and racist Tory selection policy is not the worlds' longest suicide note, but actually, the world's most effective...?

Will 883 said...

I agree with 'Anonymous' 11.45pm - not being local should not exclude you from standing, however surely in depth local knowledge and a connection with the area helps you to represent it properly?

Everybody moans about career politicians, but surely it is the ultimate career politician who picks their seat based on chances of being elected rather than because they actually want to represent the people living in that particular area?

Also would like to make the point that 'Tom' is being petty about Lib Dem female MPs - "the Lib Dems' paltry nine" is actually much better in % terms than the Tories, given that they have 63 MPs (9 female) compared to 193 (18 female) for Tories. Labour is 94 out of 349 MPs I believe.

Anonymous said...

12 An association near me here in Lancashire/Cumbria engaged a head hunter or panel to assess candidates and then ignored the advice given.

Were they wise to do so?

Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

swimsuit competition?

Anonymous said...

As I think the person who suggested blind sift, yes, take out the name, what relevance has that to what the individual says and believes. A paper from each candidate stating belief, e.g. stance on Europe etc, that is the important thing. That way only those whose core beliefs chime with the Assoc would be brought to interview and if it was all women so be it.

David Lindsay said...

All-women shortlists should be called what they are: all-London shortlists.

The sex of the candidate is really as immaterial to the proponents as to us opponents of this nasty little device. Shortlists entirely of Georgia Goulds (and supporters of abortion up to and including partial birth, if of nothing else) on the Labour side. Shortlists entirely of K&C "trust fund babes", with few or no political opinions, on the Tory side. That is the point.

Of course Parliament should be more diverse. More diverse in terms of opinion.

But then, Parliament is bicameral. And one House remains politically diverse while ticking most of the PC boxes: more women, more people from ethnic minorities, a broader range of ethnic minorities, more people with disabilities, vastly more people from less exalted backgrounds these days (never mind after the forthcoming General Election). The removal of the hereditaries has made it older and much more metropolitan, and has not been good for political diversity. But even so. No wonder that all three parties want to abolish it.

Gallimaufry said...

How about a Dale only shortlist? Let the voters choose between you or Mr Winton.

Anonymous said...

Iain.
Lets get rid of all the rot first THEN stand.
Easier to keep clean than get clean
As my old mum used to say,whenever she ventured into our bedroom(3 girls sharing).

Anonymous said...

women do tend to be weaker there are very few really excellent women MPs, they may be very well meaning and intense but very few of them tend to be stars, this actually reflects society as a whole.

Paul Halsall said...

Ref The Guardian today re Rory Stewart

"He was educated at Eton, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied modern history and politics, philosophy and economics"
-http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/26/rory-stewart-penrith-tory-seat

Here's the question, Iain. Don't you think you'd have a seat if you'd been to Eton and Oxford and not been a pleb who went to UEA?

This is what Cameron's Tories are all about.

Anonymous said...

The local or not debate is depressing, but in the case of Bracknell, as a resident I can testify the strongest reaction of many was not some of the dubious claims, but the fact he has been our MP since 1983 and never lived in the constituency.

Also, I appreciate your eagerness to feel a link with the constituency, but sometimes you may have put your foot in-it. You talked of your love of Bracknell when discussing Wellington College, which maybe in the Constituency, even the Borough, but is certainly not in Bracknell.

John Chaytor said...

Point 10: Shadow cabinet mentoring...

Surely, this will simply end up with PPCs who are potential arse lickers who have had any idea of independence knocked out of them by a senior party member with influence of their career.

Anonymous said...

20 minutes from Beckenham. That speed awareness course obviously did you a load of good.

That said I do hope you chuck your hat into the Beckenham ring. It's just a shame I wouldn't be able to vote for you if you were selected because of the boundary changes. Grrrr

Quietzapple said...

The late Sir Gerald Nabarro wrote a fine book about his life as an MP.

He was renowned for his work attacking the Luxury Sales Tax (forget the proper name), and as a constituency MP.

He asserted that it was unwise to actually live in the constituency, MPs need a break from constituents, but that surgeries should make the MP as available as necessary I recall.