Cameron tries to boost number of female MPs – meets predictable opposition from party

// 21 August 2006

In yet another attempt to ditch the Tory party’s image as the “nasty party”, leader David Cameron is aiming to increase the number of women selected to stand at the next election. In winnable seats, no less.

But, as the Times reports, Cameron is doing little to ensure that this actually happens. He has drawn up a list of 100 ‘preferred’ candidates, half of which are women. But local party members are ignoring the list: only one third of the candidates chosen so far are women.

Local party associations in London and the southeast appear particularly reluctant, with no women selected for the most winnable seats.

Cameron’s response has been to ‘top up’ the list of preferred candidates, to weight the odds more heavily in favour of Tory women.

A spokeswoman for the Fawcett Society said: “We applaud David Cameron’s determination to tackle the chronic under representation of women in his party.

“Fawcett hopes that these measures will further increase the proportion of women selected for winnable seats and will continue to monitor progress. It is essential for any party that wants to serve and understand modern Britain to have a diverse group of MPs.”

While it is good to see Cameron making an effort, I cannot profess to be surprised that the old boys (and girls, for that matter), of the right wing are unwilling to embrace female candidates. And, as usual, it seems that he is equally unwilling to take the necessary steps to force change.

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