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Tories "categorically" rule out all-women shortlists

The party rejects women's minister Nicky Morgan's suggestion that "no option is off the table".

The party rejects women's minister Nicky Morgan's suggestion that "no option is off the table".
Conservative women's minister Nicky Morgan arrives in Downing Street on April 9, 2014 after being appointed to the post. Photograph: Getty Images.

Nicky Morgan, the recently-appointed women's minister, has made some headlines with her suggestion that the Tories would consider all-women shortlists to improve their level of female representation. She told a Mumsnet chat: "I think we need to see where we end up in 2015 and if we are still struggling to get more women MPs then no option is off the table."

At present, just 16 per cent of Conservative MPs are women, compared to 33 per cent of Labour MPs (the only one of the three main parties to use all-women shortlists) and positive discrimination is often regarded as the only way to significantly improve representation.

But in response to Morgan's comments, the Tories have made it clear that they won't be going down this path. A senior Conservative source told me that it was "categorically not an option" and pointed to the fact that more than 30 per cent of 2015 Tory candidates are women as evidence of progress. But Morgan's comments are a sign that some in the party believe a more radical solution may be needed.