Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Activists on Crash Course with Leaders; All-Women List Is Strongly Resisted

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Activists on Crash Course with Leaders; All-Women List Is Strongly Resisted

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

PARTY activists have urged Labour bosses to "go back and think again" over plans to impose an all-women parliamentary shortlist in their constituency. But the high-powered delegation they tried to persuade at a meeting in Consett were also all women.

Cath Speight, chair of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, Fiona Stanton, director of Labour North and former government chief whip Hilary Armstrong were all present at the town's Civic Centre as members of the Durham North West constituency reaffirmed their determination not to accept an all-women shortlist.

The dispute arose after Ms Armstrong announced she would stand down as constituency MP at the next General Election after 22 years. Durham North West is seen as a rock-solid Labour seat.

Constituency party chairman and Durham county councillor Joe Armstrong (no relation) said his members would "not countenance an all-women shortlist."

They discriminating "They believe that positively discriminating towards women is discriminating women is negatively discrim-inating against men, and they want the very best candidate, regardless of gender, religion or colour," he said.

"All-women shortlists may have been necessary 20 years ago to encourage more women to enter politics, but they have served their purpose."

But despite more than 100 constituency members making their feelings clear with a unanimous vote in front of Ms Stanton last month, the party NEC later announced Ms Armstrong's successor as candidate at the next election would be chosen from an all-women list.

Mr Armstrong said yesterday: "We had another constituency meeting on Friday night which was well attended.

"Cath Speight was present, so was Fiona Stanton and also Hilary Armstrong.

"We again made our position clear and urged Cath Speight to pass on our views to the NEC and ask them to have a re-think."

An all-woman shortlist would rule out one potential candidate with strong local support. …

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