Ladies Only at Ladywood Sparks Labour Party Row
Byline: By Jonathan Walker Political Editor
A decision to ban men from becoming Labour's General Election candidate for Ladywood has been condemned by a senior figure in the Birmingham party.
It follows a meeting of Ladywood Constituency Labour Party last week, which voted to exclude men from the selection process.
But the decision has been attacked by Elaina Cohen, the chair of Labour's Ladywood Ward. She spoke out against the proposal at a meeting of Ladywood's campaign and executive committee, but was outvoted by nine to one.
Ms Cohen said she believed Labour needed to lead by example if it opposed discrimination - including scrapping discrimination against men. She is responsible for overseeing the Labour party in the Ladywood ward, which is part of the larger Ladywood constituency along with Nechells, Aston and Soho wards.
Ladywood is considered to be a safe Labour seat and whoever is chosen as the party's election candidate has a good chance of becoming an MP.
Clare Short won as the Labour candidate with a majority of 6,801 in 2005, although her share of the vote was down by 17 per cent on the 2001 election.
Since then she has left the Parliamentary Labour party and sits in the Commons as an independent. She has announced she will not stand for Parliament again.
Ms Cohen said: "We have moved past the stage where we need all-women short-lists.
"Surely women can be accepted on an equal basis without requiring positive discrimination?
"I have campaigned all my life against discrimination on gender, ethnicity or religion, and I don't believe this is the way to get more women selected.
"There is evidence that women do get chosen without resorting to all-women short-lists. It smacks of an outmoded way of doing things, and not modern politics at all. …