Sunday, May 07, 2006

Labour will do anything to get a majority

The Labour Party has apologised to the people of Blaenau Gwent for imposing an all-woman shortlist on the constituency in the 2005 general election. It is no coincidence that if they were to win the by-election for the Welsh Assembly seat they would regain a majority at Cardiff Bay.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said that while he thought having an all-woman shortlist was an honourable thing, Labour "got it wrong".
So what exactly would have been "getting it right"? A shortlist in a different constituency? If Labour genuinely now thought that shortlists were wrong, they would not make noises. If they genuinely wished to apologise to the people of Blaenau Gwent they would have done so before Peter Law's death when they decided not to impose a shortlist on the Constituency Labour Party.

Peter Hain's statement is nothing more than a transparent attempt to try and bounce Blaenau Gwent into voting Labour once more, rather than offering real reasons to vote Labour. Let's hope Blaenau Gwent gives Not So Very New Labour the single didget it deserves.

By the way do the Labour bloggers I'm linked to agree with Peter Hain's latest statement? Does Antonia still believe "Peter bloody Law... you're a fucking disgrace." What about Jo's comments:

But shame on the local party members and activists who supported Peter Law, breaking with sensible, effective, progressive party policy, in order to side with the reactionary elements in the Welsh Labour Party and in Welsh politics more generally, the kind of elements which made women-only shortlists a necessary tool in the first place.
Are we to assume also shame on the voters for voting for Law?

A lot talk about wanting equality for women amongst MPs. But are we talking about equality of numbers, equality of opportunity or equality of respect? Surely what is needed is a level playing field in which women have just as much chance of winning open selections as men? Is that really going to be achieved by using shortlists as a quick fix solution when they provoke so much uproar and can leave question marks over the calibre of the candidate? Are local parties that don't have the shortlists more likely to select female candidates or are they going to try to "balance things out" by giving more weighting to candidates who can't apply for every seat?

Let's not deny that there is inequality of opportunity in the selection process at the moment. There is also inequality of respect - and I'm increasingly less convinced that candidates selected by the shortlists are generating such respect.

Ironically one of the strongest contenders for the nomination to stand in Peter Law's stead in one of the by-elections is a woman...


Anonymous said...

Those who would have us believe that Law's election was based on sexism are misguided. The All-Women shortlist was used as a way to get a Westminster Labour-type into a safe seat.

As far as the whole all-women shortlist thing is general goes, who knows? What is worth pointing out is that in local allout elections, women top the poll more often than not, even at the expense of the "alphabet effect". Food for thought there. But surely the point is that if more women put themselves forward as candidates anyway, then surely there would be no need, real or percieved, for all-women shortlists?

Incidentally, in Heaton ward, Havering on Thursday, there were two Tories and one Labour elected. The Tory woman topped the poll, the Labour man (who was Darvill-beating his comrade Clark) came second and Gary Adams got in for the Tories in third. But Labour lost that seat because of an enforced deselction of two popular, long-serving, councillors, ostensibly because they needed to have a woman on the list. Well, that's what they said-truth is, Mills and O'Flynn were deselected because they supported the outgoing Labour leader, Ray Harris, against Darvill's plans to become Labour leader.

Manchester University Labour Club said...

All women shortlists work but Maggie Jones was the wrong person for that constituency. What Blaeneau Gwent needs is a good male trot.

Paul Burgin said...


Tim Roll-Pickering said...

One blogger who isn't happy is Lola.

Anonymous said...

Erm, those weren't actually my words - if you read the post, you'll see I quoted them from another blog...

However, false credit aside, yes, I still stand by what I thought during the election.

Maggie should never have been allowed to stand for selection because she was on the group that decided that BG should have an all-women shortlist.

But that doesn't mean that all-women shortlists are wrong. They were used by certain parts of the party to stop Law beijng the candidate, and that pisses me off, but Labour isn't (or shouldn't be) about "me" politics. It's not about whether you as an individual get elected but rather about Labour being represented.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

My apologies - I got the quote and your words bit of your post mixed up. However you were strongly agreeing with them so the substantive point stands, as you agree.


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