Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Man Woman Woman Man...........its all of no consequence in a by election, isn't it??????

Thanks to Jane for alerting me to the news that whereas last week we had an "attractive young woman" replacing a presumably not quite so attractive older man..........this week we have the reverse and all the associated fallout.

I made my views clear on Crewe and Nantwich selection and they apply here. If we think a candidate isn''t good enough why on earth do we select them???? But, the other interesting issue here is that at a time when we are banging on about a more representative party we have yet again missed a trick. Whilst Cameron et al are cynically ensuring they have women and BME candidates even in the most unlikely places (and I say cynically because I know from inside that this is motivated by image rather than a real commitment to diversity), we are yet again missing a trick. Are we really saying we have no women approved candidates able to cut the mustard in a by election? I can't believe that.

So yet again we will have dissent in the party which could so easily have be avoided. Let's get these by elections out of the way and then I will say what I really think!


Anonymous said...

What concerns me is that in Crewe and Nantwich, the less winnable of the two seats, a male candidate was switched to a female candidate, and in Henley, the more winnable seat, a female candidate was switched to a male candidate. The party could pay some more attention to such things.

Anonymous said...

The situation is essentially the same as in Crewe.

The by-election selection process was followed properly.

Applications were open to all approved candidates.

The Local Party Selection Committee produced a shortlist.

The shortlisted candidates went through the by-election panel.

The members chose.

In Crewe this resulted in a very strong and able female candidate.

In Henley it resulted in a very strong and able male candidate.

In both cases, as far as I can tell, the candidate was chosen on merit.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with you Linda. We are getting bad publicity through our ruthless dumping of local PPC's ahead of by-elections. Just because we were embarrassed once in 1983 (!) doesn't mean this this is the right thing to do forever.

Alex Wilcock said...

Linda, the skills needed to be a by-election candidate are very different from those for a General Election – or don’t you think that, say, the entire national media zeroing in on you is relevant?

I was graded one as a PPC on my first attempt, and was (in my own opinion, though not shared by everyone!) a pretty good candidate. But I'd have had to have a long hard think before putting myself up for a by-election, and if I had done and hadn’t been selected I wouldn’t have gone wailing that the most important thing was to have our first ever out gay by-election candidate (that’s right, we’ve never had one, ever, but for my money a by-election isn’t the best place to force someone who isn’t ready just to make a statement). My own personal view is that anyone who wouldn’t at least consider ‘Blimey, this is a bit more scary – have I got what it takes for such a massive concentration of effort, everyone sticking microphones in my face and all the tabloids going through my bins?’ is probably such a dangerous egomaniac that I’d be wary of selecting them anyway. So why shouldn’t the party have another chance to consider them going for a very different task?

I’ve helped out at more than a few by-elections where the ‘General’ candidate was unceremoniously replaced, sometimes because they didn’t get through the extra grilling they’re subjected to by the party to make sure they’re up for it, rightly, and sometimes because the local party think someone else would be better, with all the attention. I can remember one about a dozen years ago where the ex-candidate was very unhappy… But I still remember tramping out canvassing with him night after night because he wasn’t so up himself that all he could think of was ‘it should have been me’. By-elections have a hugely disproportionate effect on the party’s standing, and literally hundreds of people will give up their time and money to help: if all a candidate / ex-candidate can think of is themselves, they’re really, really, really not suited for it.

And as for picking someone of whatever type for diversity points… Well, people have complained that candidates have been dropped because of political correctness or because the party’s not sufficiently politically correct. Sorry, Linda, but either way is [insert appropriate genitalia]. If the general election candidate’s not up to the hideous pressure of a by-election; they’re not up to it; if the local party doesn’t pick someone who hits all your buttons as the best person for the job, well, tough. That they’d previously picked a woman suggests they weren’t screaming sexists. Everyone knows that this’ll be one of the toughest by-elections we’ve ever faced. It’s far more important to get the best candidate, who stands a chance of winning, than to make a politically correct statement with a less impressive candidate that everyone will forget the day after they lose. Count up the winnable by-elections where we’ve had women candidates – usually replacing men – and it’s really cutting your nose off to spite the party to say this is an issue.

And did any other women put themselves in for selection? I don’t know, but I suspect you don’t either, it’s a bit rich to say ‘It should have been a woman’ if none actually came forward. Or should the party centrally find a woman and impose them, against her own wishes and those of the local party? Democracy’s so awkward, isn’t it…

The Burbler said...

"Are we really saying we have no women approved candidates able to cut the mustard in a by election?"

No - we had Elizabeth Shenton in C&N.

Had it occurred to you that it is conceivable that the local party in C&N chose what they thought was the best candidate for their by-election and that the local party in Henley chose what they thought was the best candidate for their by-election there ?

Or is that far, far, far, far too simple ?! ;-)

Antony Hook said...

You say if all our by-election candidates were female that would be "diverse"?

We don't know if any women or BME candidates applied.

We don't know what good reasons the local party voted for one contender over the other.

We do know is that there was a democratic process and the candidate we have deserves all our support.

rob's uncle said...

I also note that Susan Cooper, the ex-candidate, has a first class brain [Maths] and is as local as can be, whereas the new chap [no longer young at 47], lives in Plymouth [the web page describing his campaigning there is ; it has mysteriously stopped working since I last looked at it] and works in Shrewsbury.

So I guess we'll be playing down the 'local' angle this time?

Alex Wilcock said...

Linda, I know you’re the last person to stamp out the dissent you predict, but it is a bit frustrating when you mount a full-frontal attack and don’t let anyone answer back until you have the time to hand-till every reply. It means most readers of your post won’t get to see any of the comments (and I suspect I won’t have been the only one in the last 13 hours) until it’s ‘gone cold’, so it seems like there’s no point in posting comments for no-one to read. Not to mention it probably being quite boring for you to read through lots of people posting the same thing because you’ve not let anyone see what anyone else has written ;-)

Have you considered at least switching off comment moderation when you spark off an internal party debate like this? Because, let’s face it, having comments that aren’t published until no-one’s reading any more, and where it’s impossible to have a dialogue because there are days before there can be any replies to replies… It’s no sort of conversation at all, so you may as well just not have comments at all.

Linda Jack said...

Oooh 'eck, upset Alex again I see! Sorry Alex, I have been out all day and only just back. Yes, I could turn off moderator, but it seems that the only time I need it turned on, if previous experience is anything to go by, is when I spark off a controversy!

Anyone who read my last post will see that what I am saying is that if we adopt a process which says you don't cut the mustard then that should be made clear to candidates at the time. Why don't we grade for goodness sake? And Alex your point about people being nervous about fighting a byelection is well made, but that could be built in - namely these are the rules that apply in the case of a byelection. Anonymous (and I don't like publishing pieces by those who won't show themselves but I want to respond) I am sorry but maybe the process was right, but I doubt the sitting PPC knew that, as I didn't and many others who have spoken to me since didn't.

mark said...

"If we think a candidate isn''t good enough why on earth do we select them????"

Isn't the answer to this very simple? Because we select people to be General Election candidates, but being a by-election candidate is a very different job and you could be suited for one but not the other.

Paula said...

The reality is that being a by election candidate is a job with a whole new jd and person spec and existing candidates know that a by election means a new selection with potentially different criteria. (Ask Nicola Davies if you think these contests are like normal elections!!) I can understand candidates who are replaced in these circumstances being a bit miffed but I am afraid people who flounce out of the party over it simply show their lack of commitment to our larger cause.

The Burbler said...

You appear to have moved the preponderance of your argument dearest Linda. You're now majoring on whether or not general candidates are told they will have to re-apply for by-elections, whereas the overwhelming weight of your original post was saying 'why was a woman dumped for a man?' (I've now re-read it for the third time to check). But I find this totally illogical and barking mad to boot. We have two by-elections and the LOCAL PARTIES have selected one man and one woman. Even stevens. Problem? Yes, if you were the "general" woman who wasn't selected or the "general" man who wasn't selected. But the party gets two locally selected candidates to fight for, of both sexes.

I really think a few cogs have flown off your rotor-blade on this one Linda, but I still love you dearly in an internal party sort of way....

The Burbler said...

Sorry for some of my more colourful phrases in the above comment and on a post on my blog Linda - I don't think your mad at all. You are right to raise this. But I just find the logic of your thought process squiggly on this. Sorry.