Friday, July 14, 2006

A-lististo Selected but Does not Increase Diversity

I have previously condemned the A-listisos contesting Folkestone and Hythe for that their lack of impact to replace Michael Howard during the nomination process. However, the final three were Harriett Baldwin, Damian Collins and Laura Sandys, A-lististos all, sa.

Harriett was PPC for Stockton North in 2005 and is a pensions and investments manager for J P Morgan, Damian was candidate for Northamptonshire North in 2005 and is managing director of an advertising, part of M & C Saatchi and Laura is the Chair of OpenDemocracy and daughter or the late former MP Baron Duncan-Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law.

So did the people from the seat of the former leader take a radical step and ensure a mature woman with a business background should follow in the steps of Michael Howard.

Nope they went for Damian who like Howard they have selected another officer of the Bow Group. Howard was Chairman in 1970 and Collins was Political Oficer in 2003.

So he is white, male, an establishment Conservative and at least nine years less experience than his female competition. Just how experienced does a Tory woman have to be to get selected?


Martin said...

Harriett was a PPC before (as you say) so clearly she has managed to get selected without being white and male. Through nepotism or skill Laura has managed to install herself at the top of a major political organisation again despite not being white and male.

Surely the similarities between three politically established white collar managers are vastly greater than the much vaunted diversity of gender: you're just quibbling over the lack of tokenism.

Given you moral indignation, will you be stepping down from contesting selections in favour of women, Stephen? Presumably not which is why the LibDems are actually having to bribe constituency parties to select women and ethnic minorities.

Stephen Glenn said...

"[The A-list] will change the face of the Conservative party by changing the faces of the Conservative party".

D Cameron April 2006

Maybe there should be an exception for held Tory seats as these appear to mostly be going to the same old faces irrelevant of the experience of the female or ethnic candidates credentials. Which from a seat made up 50% of such candidates is largely disproportionate.

Would you not agree Martin?

Mark Valladares said...


Bribing constituency parties to select women and ethnic minorities? Ah yes, the latest idea from our Party President, I understand.

Well, he lost last time he proposed an illiberal solution to a genuine problem, i.e. how to make a political party reflect the community it serves, and if that comes forward as a proposal this time, he'll lose again.

And that's just fine by me...

Martin said...

Yes, clearly there is disproportionality, that's measureable and inarguable. The interesting questions are why, and what to do about it.

For any party with a held seat but a retiring sitter, it's likely that a broadly similar candidate will be selected because it's the same people doing the selecting. Moveover, old faces are likely to succeed because they're known and understood unlike some newer, more politically desirable, faces.

This interia is what the LD's GBTF was trying to counter: supplying extra funds and training to women to overcome that fact that they're less well known, less well practiced, and less attractive to current party members. Ditto for the stated aim of the A-List, and Labour's all-women shortlists.

The fate of the all-woman shortlist in Blanau Gwent illustrates the problem: shallow diversity does not work. It angers members, weakens candidates and does nothing for the newly "represented" groups.

Rather than applying such a thin veneer of diversity though planted candidates, all the major parties should be concentrating on deep diversity: making their memberships diverse. Then genuinely representitive candidates will emerge with popular backing, not through bribes and engineering.

The Tory party will find it hard to build a diverse membership because they are inherantly conservative. The LDs and Labour should find it much easier which is why the all-X shortlists and Ming's Bribery Board are so badly misguided.

So perhaps you're right and it's okay to criticise the Tory's Folkestone and Hythe selection but to suggest that the LDs are doing anything different is hypocritical.


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