Monday, 12 March 2012

Women Only Shortlists.

Helen Mary Jones Paid Cymru's chair has argued that the party  should consider all-women shortlists for parliamentary elections to ensure women are better represented,. she said  would advocate the party looked "at some sort of affirmative action".

She clarified she was only speaking in a personal capacity and the party was yet to make a decision.

.She has a Point Wales has a very poor record on Women's representation in the Westminster Parliament

I hope I got this right.
  • Megan Lloyd George (1902-1966) Liberal MP for Anglesey, 1929-1951, and Labour MP for Carmarthen, 1957-66.
  • Dorothy Mary Rees DBE (29 July 1898 – August 1987)  Labour  Member of Parliament for Barry1950 – 1951
  • Eirene White (1909 - 1999) Labour MP for East Flint, 1950-1970. 
  • Ann Clwyd (b. 1937) Labour Party  Elected to Westminster in the Cynon Valley by-election of 1984 having failed in Denbigh in 1970 and Gloucester in 1974.  Current
  • Jackie Lawrence (b. 1948)  Labour MP for Preseli-Penfro in the 1997 General Election stood down in the .2005 general election,
  • Julie Morgan (b. 1944) Contested Cardiff North in 1992 as a Labour Candidate and was elected in 1997.  Defeated in 2010; s won the Cardiff North seat in the Welsh Assembly in the 2011 elections.
  • Betty Williams  (b. 1944) Elected Labour MP for Conwy in 1997. Retired 2010
  • Jessica Elizabeth Morden (born 29 May 1968)  Elected Labour  M for Newport East since 2005 Current.
  • Siân Catherine James (born 24 June 1959)  Elected Labour MP MPfor  Swansea East since 2005 Current .
  • Madeleine Moon MP) Elected Labour MPMP for  Bridgend since 2005, Current.
  • Nia Rhiannon Griffith (born 4 December 1956) Elected Labour MP for for Llanelli since 2005. Current.
  • Jennifer Nancy Willott (born 29 May 1974) Elected Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central 2005 Current.
  • Susan Elan Jones (born 1 June 1968)  Elected Labour MP for Clwyd South 2010 Current 
So in all our Parliamentary History Wales have only returned 13 Women MP's to Westminster. Eleven Labour one Liberal Democrat and One Liberal- Labour (Megan Lloyd George).

Currently there are Seven (out of Forty) Welsh Women MP's (Six Labour one Liberal Democrat).

There have been no Plaid or Tory Welsh Women MP's.

The number of MP's for Wales as a whole is likely to drop to 30 and this could well me an even smaller ratio of Women.

It is ridiculous to waste the talent of some 50% of the population in his way and we must address it.

However when it comes to all Women shortlist I have a problem with a policy I once approved . Because the main success in this has been via the Labour Party which has used a policy to increase equal representation to increase party control of candidates, ensuring that by controlling the selection process, Women are elected who are compliant with the Party Leadership.

I'm not saying that the" Stepford Wives" accusation of those Women MP's elected during the Blair years (many due to Women only shortlis)t is accurate . Many of the Male MP's elected were as appallingly loyal but it does seem what a commendable policy has been twisted to make sure the only "The right candidate is selected".not because she is a Woman but she ids part of the Party machine.

The problem is that, accept for once more arguing for STV . I can't see any other solution than shorlists . But if Plaid were to introduce all Women Shortlist . Which Constituencies of the proposed Five new ones that the Party can realistically hope to win would there be a shortlist? Bearing in mind Three probably will be contested by the current Male MP's. That Leaves Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire, and Llanelli.

Political expediency rather than a need to address a Democratic Equality short fall may be the order of the day.


  1. I'm not sure I agree wholeheartedly with the premiss that gender equality should take priority over merit and ability.

    If I needed the services of a surgeon, lawyer, or a plumber, for example, then the question of gender would not arise, I would choose the best available. I'm not sure if politics should be an exception. We need the best, the most capable, politicians too.

    Having said that, most of the ones we have at Westminster and Cardiff, are a pretty rum bunch, regardless of party affiliation or gender.

    Our politicians are selected by the parties, not by the electorate. We only get to vote for the pre-selected few.

    It's conceivable that were positive discrimiation in favour of female candidates to be adopted by most, if not all, of the parties, then the voters in a particular constituency might have an all-female list - not one of whom was selected on merit - other than in competition with other females.

    Where I knew that more capable candidates of the other gender were excluded, I don't know that in all conscience I could put my name forward, as it would be a denial of the right of the constituents to have the choice of the best available candidate.

    A number of parties have adopted positive discrimination, including Labour and Plaid Cymru. The latter has excluded at least one extremely capable and experienced person who might have led his party to electoral success had he been selected. In my opinion some far less able female candidates were chosen for regional lists, and the party paid the price for it subsequently. One might consider that it is where it is today because of that decision. It could be regarded as a triumph of principle over political pragmatism. I'd call it sheer stupidity, but then, I'm a man.

  2. maen_tramgwyd

    The problem with your argument over gender equality taking priority over merit and ability. Is that as My Blog shows that over the years since 1885 when it could be argued Parliament had its first Democratic elections (an then Women and many Men were still excluded) out of hundreds of MP's only 13 Women have been elected from Wales (even after the representation act of 1918 when women over 30 were first granted the vote for parliamentary elections)Means that gender has clearly been an issue in selection.

    So Women Only lists are replacing a hidden discrimination with an open one.

  3. No-one denies the existence of gender inbalance in the world of politics, or the need for a more balanced legislature.

    The question is, how is it to be addressed?

    I think it's a far more fundamental and complex issue than simple pre-selection of candidates. There is some evidence that there is self-selection as far as women are concerned - it appears that fewer wish to embark on a political career than men. It seems to be an unattractive career for females.

    I feel it's a bit simplistic to say. "We'll only select from a list of women in this or that constituency - that'll solve it!"

    That 'solution' gives the electorate even less choice. Voters have precious little say as it is. It is the electorate which matters, the people elected represent them, and they deserve the best available. If that doesn't happen, then we end up with a detachment between the people and the politicians. That's what we've got today.. most people have a very low opinion of most of them. I'm not saying that is only, or even mainly, because positive discrimination has been in operation.

    We have to ask, 'Why is it that predominantly men put themselves forward? and why selection committees/meetings select men?

    I have lived in a constituency having a female MP selected from an all-female list. I must admit that her male predecessor did a far better job in my humble opinion. Unfortunately it was a constituency where a donkey with a Labour rosette would get elected.

    I'm very much hoping that my preferred female choice will be elected as Plaid's leader with a thumping majority on Thursday so that the party can move forward under a dynamic charismatic person.

  4. So instead of the most popular candidate she wants the most popular woman? Sure, let's make this eletoral system an even bigger joke than it is.

  5. maen_tramgwyd

    "We have to ask, 'Why is it that predominantly men put themselves forward? and why selection committees/meetings select men?"

    Possibly Women don't put their names forward because they know the system is weighted against them.


    I think positive discrimination in the regional seats for the Assembly was a benefit for Plaid at least. Certainly their Women AM's outperform the Men.

    So why not get more?

    1. "Certainly their Women AM's outperform the Men.

      So why not get more?"

      That's gender discrimination in reverse, Glyn, you should know better than that..hehe!

      I'd prefer to have the best representatives available, irrespective of gender. Having a system which discriminates, however it does so, militates against getting the best.

  6. Stuart.

    I think positive discrimination in the regional seats for the Assembly was a benefit for Plaid at least. Certainly their Women AM's outperform the Men.

    So why not get more?


    The problem is though, she isn't talking about regional seats. HMJ is on about Westminster seats. And even then you could stick a red rosette on a plant pot in most Welsh constituencies and it would get in. So the fact that we have had so few female MPs speaks more to how many female candidates Labour have had (6/26).

    if they had put 40 women up for election in 2010 we could have had the most ever female MPs elected. Would it matter? We could also have had the most amount of plant pots ever elected too.

    Can anyone provide a link to show how many female candidates Plaid put up in 2010?

  7. Stuart: I believe the Women Candidates For Plaidfor 2010 were
    Brecon and radnorshire Janet Davies
    Cardiff south and Penarth Farida Aslam
    Clwyd south Janet Ryder
    Llanelli Myfanwy Davies
    Montgomeryshire Heledd Fychan
    Newport East Fiona Cross
    Vale of Clwyd Caryl Wyn-Jones

    Of These only Myfanwy Davies stood in a seat where Plaid had received o decent vote in the past. Though of course Heledd Fychan fought the best campaign of any Plaid candidate.

    I understand the criticism of Women shortlists and made my own in the Blog. But as anyone over the period that we have accepted that we should really see a more equal gender balance in our legislative bodies come up with the current electoral system we have now.

    If the you are male and the position was reversed would you accept that you were largely excluded from the Major legislative bodiesin the UK?

  8. Myfanwy stood in my seat and I voted for her, I even had her sign in my garden.

    So even if Plaid had won every seat they'd only have had 7 female MPs. I think HMJ needs to speak to her bosses before she speaks to the press. And that is exactly what I would do if the situation was reversed and I was a member of a party.