Update: The list I had seen of open selections appeared to indicate that Warwick and Leamington was an open selection. I have since been shown evidence that Warwick and Leamington was an AWS selection – that means that no women have been selected in open selections in target seats since 2010. The below post has been amended to reflect that change.
Earlier this week the party’s powerful Org Sub met to discuss the latest list of selections – including which would be “open” selections and which would be All-Women Shortlists (AWS). The use of AWS has been criticised by some in recent weeks, and some may never be reconciled to a system which
stops them getting selected seeks to address the chronic gender imbalance in parliament.
To those who suggest that there is no need for AWS, it might be worth considering recent party selections that have taken place. So far there have been 22 AWS selections in target seats, all of which have obviously selected female candidates. There have also been 19 Open selections in target seats in this parliament – the results of which are below. Can you spot the trend?
|Norwich South||Clive Lewis|
|Crewe & Nantwich||Adrian Heald|
|Chatham & Aylesford||Tristan Osborne|
|Gillingham & Rainham||Paul Clark|
|Milton Keynes South||Andrew Pakes|
|Reading East||Matt Rodda|
|Bristol North West||Darren Jones|
|North Swindon||Mark Dempsey|
|Cannock Chase||Janos Toth|
19 18 “Open” selections in target seats, 18 have been won by men.
In the only “open” selection won by a female candidate – Warwick and Lemington – the only other shortlisted candidate was also female. When presented with a choice between a man and a women in a target seat selection, the party hasn’t selected a woman since before the last election.
Ah – I hear you cry – but what about by-election selections? They’ve selected female candidates. I’m glad you raised that, because you’re right. Here are the by-election selections since 2010:
|Croydon North||Steve Reed|
|Cardiff South & Penarth||Stephen Doughty|
|Manchester Central||Lucy Powell|
|Bradford West||Imran Hussain|
|Feltham and Heston||Seema Malhotra|
|Leicester South||Jon Ashworth|
|Barnsley Central||Dan Jarvis|
|Oldham East and Saddleworth||Debbie Abrahams|
Out of 13 by-election selections (which are always “open” selections) only 4 of the candidates have been women – and one of those was in Rotherham, where the only other shortlisted candidate was also female, which led to a walk out at the selection.
That means in total out of
32 31 open selections since 2010, 27 have been won by men.
Since May 2010, only three women – Lucy Powell, Seema Malhotra and Debbie Abrahams – have beaten male candidates in an open selection.
For whatever reason (and I sense that many of the strongest female candidate are choosing to go for AWS seats, which will play a part), open selections are becoming almost entirely male dominated. Those who would remove AWS need to explain why this is happening, and how they would ensure equal representation for women without AWS in a system that currently seems skewed towards male candidates…