David Cameron's campaign to influence the way local parties choose potential Tory MPs ran into double trouble yesterday.
Party activists in one Tory seat were accused of age discrimination, and a blogger revealed that the proportion of women chosen as Tory candidates has fallen since Mr Cameron introduced a scheme that was supposed to increase their number. Mr Cameron wants most constituency parties in safe or winnable Tory seats to select their parliamentary candidates from an "A-list" drawn up at the party's central headquarters. The list, known to its critics as the "beautiful people", has a high proportion of women and people from ethnic minorities, including some with no experience of politics.
Nine Tory candidates have been chosen since the A-list came into effect, according to the website Conservative Home. They consist of two women, one man from an ethnic minority, and six white males.
Proportionally, women did better before the list came into effect early last month, when six out of the 29 candidates chosen were women. The two women chosen in June were Andrea Leadsom, for Northamptonshire South, and Pauline Latham for Mid-Derbyshire. Jamaican-born Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who is said to be Britain's only black farmer, has been selected to contest Chippenham.
One of the most experienced politicians on the list is the former Tory MP Howard Flight, who claims he has been rejected by the Tory party in West Worcestershire because he is 58. The local Tory association has refused to say whether the claim is true. "They wanted a candidate who, on grounds of age, could be expected to serve at least two or three terms and therefore those who were above a certain age were ruled out," Mr Flight told Radio 4's World at One.Reuse content