Cllr Derek Tipp’s fourth question refers to the controversial Priority List for Conservative candidates. Only 37% of Tory members belonging to ConservativeHome’s monthly survey of party opinion agree with this central initiative of David Cameron – designed to radically increase the number of women MPs.
Do you agree with the current policy of creating a “Priority List” of
candidates consisting of 50% male and 50% female candidates for
selection to target seats?
JOHN FLACK: David Cameron was elected by a sizable majority and one of his key pledges was to deliver more women and ethnic candidates and M.P’s. A priority list is his first attempt to achieve this. As a loyal Party member I will support this as the currently agreed policy. Should the matter be debated again by the board I will express my opinion that all candidates should be chosen regardless of age or sex or colour or creed or where in the Country they come from, but solely on their ability to do the job, when assessed against the sort of criteria I set out in 2. above.
JEREMY MIDDLETON: Yes I agree with the Leader’s objectives increasing the number of female MPs and am prepared to endorse the current Leader’s approach to the priority list. There are significant problems with the priority list and I am only happy to go along with it because the Leader has made it a central plank of his attempts to reposition the Party. It is also important how it is executed. In particular I think it is vital that:
- We continue to allow local candidates to apply;
- The list remains open;
- Associations continue to be able to select whoever they want from applicants from that list;
- Standards remain the same for women as men on the list.
SIMON MORT: The Priority List (PL) is the Leader’s policy and he was elected on it. As there is a numerical shortage of women on the List, I favour a shorter PL rather than accepting second-rate women.
TOBY VINTCENT: Yes, broadly:
- Do I want better candidates? Yes.
- Do I want more women MPs? Yes.
- Do I want a broader representation of the UK’s social mix? Yes.
- Do I want candidates in target seats well bedded-in by the time of the next General Election? Yes (although I am amazed that professionals are so ready to damage their careers by a distraction of this kind)
- Do Associations select along the lines above when left to their own devices? No.
- Is an arbitrary 50/50 Male/Female split the answer? No one knows yet, but if it moves us in the right direction I am game to give it a try subject to a thorough review after the next General Election.
EMMA PIDDING: David Cameron has set out the clear policy of creating a ‘Priority List’ of candidates of 50% male and 50% female candidates for selection in target seats. However, with a larger proportion of men on the Parliamentary list this may be difficult to achieve. This challenge though must be tackled. We must change the face of the party in the public’s perception if we are to win general elections. It is vital that we host a diverse list of candidates but also ensuring that at all times quality is maintained.