Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. The market can’t deliver growth without government help (Daily Telegraph)

Wealth doesn’t create itself – the government must champion Britain's cause in a tough, competitive world, says Michael Heseltine.

2. Romney would be a backward step (Financial Times)

Obama’s vision is inadequate, writes Martin Wolf. But Mitt Romney is George W. Bush reheated.

3. This is a European suicide pact (Guardian)

In normal times in the EU, co-ordinated austerity would lower member states' debt, writes Jonathan Portes. But instead it's making things worse.

4. Cheaper daycare could land Ed Miliband in Downing St (Daily Telegraph)

Ed Miliband is determined to make the cost of living the great election issue, writes Mary Riddell.

5. George and Vince must cry: ‘Huzzah for Hezza!’ (Times) (£)

Don’t be put off by the retro flavour: the Heseltine heresy on industrial strategy has become the new orthodoxy, writes David Wighton.

6. David Cameron's pro-EU charade cannot go on much longer (Guardian)

The PM talks tough on the European Union but claims to support it, writes Simon Jenkins. His position is hopeless. A new deal is needed.

7. UK recovery must not be just for the few (Financial Times)

Rising GDP does not necessarily lead to higher wages for all, warns Gavin Kelly.

8. Stop the party games and speak for Britain (Daily Mail)

MPs must give Cameron the strongest mandate to face down the EU commission, says a Daily Mail leader.

9. A boost for Britain's nuclear renaissance (Independent)

The Hitachi deal is reason to celebrate, but there is a long way to go to fill our energy gap, says an Independent editorial.

10. Scotland’s debate lacks seriousness (Financial Times)

What would an independent Scotland actually be like? The answer is that no one really knows, writes John Kay.

Show Hide image

How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

0800 7318496