Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Female Conservative AMs and MPs.

Conservative Assembly Member, Jonathon Morgan published this essay yesterday. I find it both interesting - and contradictory. I agree with his general analysis of issues that need to be addressed, but not with his suggested remedy. The main issue is the relative absence of women elected to represent the Conservative Party in Wales - at both Cardiff and Westminster. Jonathon is repeating a call, made earlier by the Leader of the Conservative Group in the Assembly, Nick Bourne. They both believe that there should be positive discrimination in favour of women and ethnic minorities.

Regret to say that I don't agree with either of them. If all else were to fail, perhaps we should think about it. But we haven't really tried. If the party is serious about change, it would be giving women a much higher profile, and the opportunity to make their mark. Every year we hold conferences and policy forums. Why not give our female candidates the best slots - rather than wheel out the same list of speakers from Wales (almost exclusively male), with a 'name' or two from outside Wales - time after time. Why not issue press releases in the name of the party's most able women. Personally, I would find Party events much more interesting - and the higher profile would make our ambitious prospective female politicians much better known. Name recognition is such a big factor in electoral success.

Now lets look at the contradiction in Jonathon's essay. He suggests that the way to implement his proposal for positive discrimination is to place a woman at the top of every regional list in the next (I assume) Assembly election. This would mean demotion for William Graham, Brynle Williams, Alun Cairns (if he's a candidate), David Melding, Mark Isherwood, Andrew Davies and Nick Bourne. It could easily mean that all, or at least five of these current AMs would not be re-elected. Now, I cannot for one moment imagine that this is what Jonathon would want to see happen.

Yet, in the same essay, he's suggesting that the very same AMs, elected by the regional lists be given the security of almost automatic reappointment to their list ranking. I can see that there's a respectable case to be made in favour of either approach, but not both at the same time. Personally, I'd prefer to leave the current system alone - allowing party members the choice, but making a genuine and sustained effort to raise the profile of women interested in representative politics.

9 comments:

Peter Black said...

Reluctant as I am to intrude on a family squabble, you have actually misrepresented what Jonathan said. He actually suggested that women fill any vacancies on lists when AMs stand down. In the comments he gives as an example the possibility that Alun Cairns may win the Vale of Glamorgan and suggests that the resultant vacancy as an AM be filled by a woman,

Glyn Davies said...

Peter - Why do you describe a discussion as a squabble - you of all people I might add!! I did not read Jonathon's essay in the same way as you did - though I diod know that Nick referred only to where a current AM stands down.

Paul said...

Positive discrimination is still discrimination.

How would your members in Montgomeryshire (or those in Clwyd South) feel if an all female short list where put in place for 2011? Both seats have a majority of c2000 with the Tories in second place.

If you had a woman at the top in Mid and West last time round, Lisa Fances would still be an AM and you and Nick Bourne would have lost you seats. We all remember that the scramble for the top spot was tough enough as it was, but imagine after all that if Lisa’s 3rd place automatically put her up the top?

Plaid reserved the top spot on lists exclusively for woman in 2007 with near fatal consequences. Bethan Jenkins piped Dai Lloyd to the top spot despite having less than 20 votes to Dai’s 80 odd. Plaid have no introduced a zipped system, where by the #1 spot goes to the winner and the #2 spot to someone of the opposite sex. Better but still not fair to the #3 person who will often end up missing out on election.

Peter Black said...

Sorry Glyn, I was being deliberately contentious. The actual quote from the article is 'My personal preference as an initial move forward is for the first available slot on each regional list be offered to a female candidate.'. Note the use of the word 'available'. I cannot find the reference to Alun Cairns now. Maybe it was made by somebody else and I subconsciously attributed to Jonathan.

Glyn Davies said...

Paul - I do not think that the members in Montgomeryshire would not like it at all. I do not like the idea of positive discrimination - but there is a problem that has to be addressed. The best way is to give women who are enthusiatic about representing the Conservatives every support to ensure they are known. In passing, I will add that I would never contest a list election again - under any circumstances.

Peter - The weakness of the idea of applying the rule only where there 'availability' makes it a very small step forward indeed - hardly worth bothering to incur the wrath of activists in the party for. I still think that 'positive discrimination' at the level of supporting women candidates is the better way. Its a debate that my party needs, which I will I chipped my twopennyworth in.

Peter Black said...

I am not supporting Jonathan's view Glyn, just pointing out your misinterpretation. I think support is the best way forward but then we have more sympathetic local parties and a better record than the Welsh Tories.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

Positive discrimination is a greater evil than under-representation of women in legislatures.

Anonymous said...

Peter Black> the Welsh Lib-Dems are in third place and lost their official opposition status. But according to you have a "better record than the Welsh Tories".

Anonymous said...

*LOL* Maybe Peter Black is having another subconscious event, he's confirmed that he thinks they are tricking him.