The Conservative party will not introduce all-women shortlists for parliamentary candidates because its members would likely resent women selected under such schemes, the party’s chair has said.
Patrick McLoughlin told a Women and Equalities Committee hearing on increasing women’s representation that all women short-lists would restrict the “freedom” of Tory members.
“We don’t try and impose all-women shortlists because we do try and give local associations as much freedom as possible in the way they go about selecting their candidates, particularly for a general election,” he said
“I think imposing that on Conservative associations would possible risk a resentment which would not help that Member of Parliament or candidate once they were selected.
“I’d rather do other measures, helping women trying to get on the candidate list. We’ve got various organisations that we do that through.”
Mr McLoughlin added that there was “nothing to stop all-women shortlists going before associations” as long as they “naturally happened”.
The Conservative party has 68 women MPs compared to 263 male MPs. Its record in overall representation is much lower than Labour, which 99 women compared to 130 men.
Labour has long used all-women shortlists in seats to bolster its numbers.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said at the same committee hearing on Wednesday morning that he had sympathy for extending the approach to black, LGBT and disabled people tp improve representation.
Mr McLoughlin however added: “I think if we’re awarding points for numbers I hope we get a bonus for the Prime Minister.”
Theresa May is the party’s second woman Prime Minister, after Margaret Thatcher.Reuse content