Labour: All-women shortlists not sexist
8:40am Friday 9th October 2009 in News
LABOUR Party bosses have been accused of sexism after barring men from representing their party in Bury North at the next general election.
The current MP, Labour’s David Chaytor, says he will not contest the seat at the election, which must be held before June 3 next year.
Now his party have decided to select from an all-women shortlist.
At the moment, there are 519 male MPs and 126 female MPs in the UK.
Labour uses the all-female shortlists in an attempt to redress the balance.
Cllr Richard Baum, who will stand for the Liberal Democrats, said: “If you’re a man and you fancied being the Labour candidate, it’s tough luck.
“You’re going to have to have some fairly radical surgery to get around your own party’s rules.
“Labour voters are scuppered too because half the potential candidates are banned from standing.
“The Labour Party, centrally, has discriminated against men, removing from them the chance to stand.
“Women in Parliament are great. I want there to be a representative Parliament as much as the next person, but more important than that is that we have a Parliament full of the best people, fairly selected and then elected.
“All-women shortlists are absolutely not the way to go. Labour is putting dogma before common sense.”
David Nuttall, who will stand for the Conservatives, said: “If anything, this is demeaning to women because it implies that women cannot become candidates on their own merits.
“Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister completely on her own merits.
“I believe the best person should be chosen regardless of their gender. Men should be given the opportunity to apply.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Our National Executive Committee (NEC) makes decisions on a case-by-case basis as to whether or not a parliamentary selection process should be an open shortlist or an all-women shortlist.
“The NEC organisational sub-committee took the decision that the selection process for Bury North should be based on an all-women shortlist.
“If people want a Parliament that is more open, plural and democratic, then we need to make big changes. Labour has the most successful record of women’s representation in comparison to all other political parties and will always have equality as a core value.”
Bury North was created as a constituency in 1983 and the seat has only ever been held by two men: Alistair Burt (Conservative) and David Chaytor.