Blair prepares to drop all-women shortlists

JOHN RENTOUL and

DONALD MACINTYRE

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, yesterday ruled out any further imposition of women parliamentary candidates after the general election and admitted that the process had "not been ideal at all".

Today's meeting of the party's national executive is expected to put off further action to impose female candidates on reluctant local parties at least until after the outcome of an industrial tribunal case brought by Peter Jepson, 44, against the party for alleged breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.

Yesterday Mr Blair confirmed that the policy would not be continued after the general election, and said: "It has given us a number of very strong and very able candidates, but the process has not been ideal at all and that is accepted by the most vociferous supporters of the proposal."

Mr Blair's remarks came on the eve of an expected national executive decision today to defer the endorsement of Liz Davies, selected from an all-woman shortlist in Leeds North East. Ms Davies' selection could be overturned because of complaints against her candidacy.

In an unrelated move the executive is also expected to pave the way for this October's party conference to reduce further the union block vote from 70 to 50 per cent. Mr Blair indicated his strong support for the move yesterday.

On the shortlist policy, which aims to put women into half of Labour's winnable seats, Clare Short, Labour's spokeswoman on women's issues, said: "There have been 35 all-women selections already.

"The next House of Commons will be massively different. There'll be 80 or 90 women Labour MPs. The whole thing is not in crisis."

The national executive has already taken over the selection of a candidate in Slough, where the local Labour Party refused to co-operate with the policy. Mr Jepson wanted to be considered as a candidate for a London constituency. Legal action is now expected to include a claim that he has been excluded from standing in Slough.

Ms Short said she was confident that the party would win the industrial tribunal case, but some party officials have said privately that it would be easier if the party lost.

Uncertainty remains over Bethnal Green and Bow, in east London, where a former Labour cabinet minister, Peter Shore, is retiring. The local party has been asked to choose from an all-woman shortlist, but its members voted by around four to one against the policy in a postal ballot. The local party has been told by regional officials that no decision on their case will be taken until after the industrial tribunal expected to start later this month.

Peter Taverner, Labour agent for Manchester Blackley, called for the policy to be dropped immediately. "It is time to let it wither away," he said.

By-election battle, page 2

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week