All political parties need to do more to "look and sound like Britain", one of the Labour Party's rising stars has said. Gloria De Piero, the new shadow minister for women and equalities, says she will "never be happy" until 50 per cent of MPs are female.
Last week's reshuffles were an attempt to get more women represented at the top table, but critics said David Cameron did not go far enough as he did not increase the number of women in the Cabinet.
And research shows that the Tory leader is on course for an even lower representation of women in his parliamentary party at the next election. Of the 51 candidates selected by the Tories so far, only 15 are women, or 29 per cent. There are also 15 female Conservative MPs on Labour's target list of 106 seats; if Labour won all these seats, the Tories would have 33 women MPs after 2015.
The Liberal Democrats have only seven women out of 57 MPs, or 12 per cent – although a string of safe seats are to be made vacant by retiring male MPs. Labour has 81 female MPs, a proportion of 31 per cent. Out of the 120 new candidates selected by Labour for 2015, 57 – 48 per cent – are women.
Ms De Piero, who describes herself as a working-class woman from Bradford, said Labour must appeal to "Take a Break woman" – readers of the weekly magazine of real-life stories and competitions.
She said Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, who is an "absolute legend" for pushing all-women shortlists as a Labour policy, has "damaged her own career in the Labour Party by saying, 'No, I'm not going to stop talking about this.'
"Just over three out of 10 Labour MPs are women, which is higher than other parties. But we will never be happy.
"When you're the people's party there's an even bigger responsibility on you to look and sound like Britain," she said.
A Conservative spokesperson said: "We have more seats to select, and more excellent women on the candidates list going for them."