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Saturday, August 30, 2008

"A series of mini-Blaenau Gwents"

The post-mortem on Labour's Welsh local election campaign cannot be going that well. Last May they managed to achieve their worst ever results, maintaining majority control of just two Councils and losing their grip on the Welsh Local Government Association.

However, rather than regroup and reorganise they seem intent on tearing themselves apart by forcing local parties to deselect sitting Councillors so as to increase the number of women elected to local authorities.

The Western Mail
quotes a senior Labour Councillor as warning that any attempt to force sitting members to stand down would lead to a series of “mini-Blaenau Gwents” across the country. This is a reference to the controversy that surrounded the party’s controversial parliamentary all-women shortlists in Wales and which led to Labour losing its safest Parliamentary seat.

The senior Labour councillor, who did not want to be identified because of the fear of recriminations, said: “Selections went ahead for this year’s elections in May following a compromise that meant sitting councillors would not have to be de-selected. But it is clear that for the elections in 2012 there are those in the party who are determined to go further.

“In a two-member ward, where both sitting Labour councillors are male, there is no doubt from what has been said that the intention would be that one would have to stand down in favour of a woman candidate. Their target of 50% female representation could not be achieved otherwise.

“There will be uproar in the party if they go ahead with this. It is all very well for people sitting in Transport House in Cardiff to make a case for more women councillors. But in seeking to impose quotas and formulas they forget that these days people do not vote blindly for the Labour Party. Often, especially at council elections, they vote for people who have built up a local reputation through hard work over many years. To force councillors to stand down simply because they are the wrong gender would be crazy and would increase the likelihood of Labour being defeated.

“If male Labour councillors are de-selected in these circumstances, it is very likely they will stand as Independents and get elected. There will be ‘mini-Blaenau Gwents’ all across Wales. How does that advance the cause of gender equality?

“We took a pasting at this year’s elections, and need to bounce back next time. With ideas like this we are in danger of shooting ourselves in the foot and losing more seats.”

I am sure that this is a sentiment that will be echoed in council chambers all over the country.
If you actually bothered to quote the entire article, plus Welsh Labour's response to Shipton...

"A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “It is far too early to think about what procedures will be in place for the next council elections in 2012. Before that we have a European election, a general election and an Assembly election.

“For the council elections earlier this year, the party entered into a series of voluntary local agreements about the selection of candidates in order to get a wider representation of the community.

“There is a general recognition that women are under-represented in politics, especially at council level. The party is doing what it can to get more women elected as councillors. The Welsh executive committee will decide in due course how to proceed.”
There was no need to quote the whole article as I linked to it and people can read it for themselves. The comment by the Welsh Labour Spokesperson in my view actually reinforced the concerns of the senior Labour Councillor by confirming that action is being considered to increase the number of female Councillors. On their past form no wonder that Councillor is worried.
Peter> I'm a tad bit confused here Peter, ru just playing the political game here? Don't u support the idea of a woman to lead your own party to, as you put it: “This is important, not only because it places a woman into a high-profile post but it offers the party a unique selling point that distinguishes us from the grey-haired leaders of old."


I'm disappointed you are ruling yourself out, but respect you for it. You are clearly putting your party first and as you no doubt see it, the nation first - ahead of yourself. You are a thoroughly honest, self-sacrificing, and hardworking AM.
Yes I do support the idea of a woman leading my own party and also more women in elected positions but don't support tokenism. There are other ways to achieve this end.
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