Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Labour row over women shortlists

Ian McCartney MP
Ian McCartney MP will stand down at the general election

A row has broken out in Wigan over a decision by the Labour Party to impose all-women candidate shortlists on two constituencies in the town.

The party wants women to replace the Makerfield MP Ian McCartney and Wigan MP Neil Turner when they step down at the general election.

Local members are to fight the decision by the National Executive Party (NEC) and have started a petition.

The party said it was important that Parliament was more open.

Ann Rampling, who organised the petition, attended a constituency meeting of her fellow Makerfield party members on Monday night.

She told the BBC that local members believe both men and women should be able to stand as prospective parliamentary candidates.

If people want a Parliament that is more open, plural and democratic then we need to make big changes
North West Labour Party

"What we want is a really good choice across the board, not just women.

"We want men as well so we can pick the best, literally the best for our area."

But a spokesperson for the party in the North West said it was vital to impose the all-women lists for the future "democracy" of Parliament.

"The NEC organisational sub-committee took the decision that the selection process for both Makerfield and Wigan should be based on all-women shortlists," they said.

"If people want a Parliament that is more open, plural and democratic then we need to make big changes.

"Labour has the most successful record of women's representation in comparison to all other political parties and will always have equality as a core value.

"The NEC will always listen to the views of individual constituency Labour parties but there is no formal appeal process in regards to all-women shortlists."



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