Tony Blair with his record number of Women MPs
Tony Blair with his record number of Women MPs

The next UK General Election will offer voters in the Forest of Dean a female Labour Candidate. Following a consultation exercise involving all four branches in the district and a decision by the party’s National Executive Committee it’s decided that The Forest candidate should be selected from an “All Women Shortlist” or AWS.

The problem of under representation of women in Parliament is fairly evident. Even now in 2019 only 191 out of 650 MPs are women. Labour has 99 women MPs out of 232 (42 percent) but the Conservatives only 68 out of 330 – only 20 percent.

Labour are committed to trying to increase the number of women in parliament and started the AWS policy with the 1997 General Election, which returned a record number of Women MPs (see picture). Indeed many of the current most impressive Labour MPs – eg Angela Rayner, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy – were selected from all-women lists.  The Conservatives remain opposed to an AWS, the party chairman  Patrick McLoughlin said “We don’t try and impose all women shortlists because we  try and give local associations as much freedom as possible in the way they go about selecting their candidates.” It’s safe to say that at 20 percent women MPs, whatever the conservatives think they might be doing is failing.

The Forest of Dean of course has only ever had one woman MP – Diana Organ. Her period of office coincided with Tony Blair and since she departed no other women have been adopted as candidates.

Cllr. Bernie O’Neill, Chair of the Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party said, ” We shall now have to make sure that the woman we choose to stand as our Candidate at the next General Election, is the very best that we can find and the most suitable to represent the residents of the Forest.  I am sure that she will have the full support and help from the members of the Labour Party in the Constituency in what is sure to be a tough campaign, whenever it comes.”

The party also wished to thank Shaun Stammers who stood as Labour Candidate at the last General Election and who will now not be able to stand as a potential candidate next time around.

Any interested women candidates should now make contact with the Forest of Dean Labour Party.

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