Labour women lose out

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The Independent Online
JOHN SMITH, the Labour leader, was preparing last night to reshuffle his shadow cabinet after two prominent women lost their places in the annual elections, writes Patricia Wynn

Davies. A new rule requiring all MPs to cast votes for at least four women, compared to three last year, appeared to have backfired.

Harriet Harman, shadow chief secretary, and Ann Clwyd, national heritage spokeswoman, lost their seats, taking the overall total down from four to three. A substantial number of votes also went to women candidates with poor chances of winning, indicating a concerted effort by male MPs to keep the number of women elected to a minimum.

But the results bring new blood in the form of George Robertson, the deputy foreign affairs spokesman, and an architect of Labour's strategy during the passage of the Maastricht Bill.

Robin Cook, trade and industry spokesman, topped the poll, while Tony Blair, shadow home secretary, and Gordon Brown, shadow chancellor, lost ground. John Prescott and Frank Dobson came joint second.

Modernisers hold firm, page 6

Andrew Marr, page 21

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