Conservative women's minister Nicky Morgan arrives in Downing Street on April 9, 2014 after being appointed to the post. Photograph: Getty Images.
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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".

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.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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