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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Labour could reopen women row
Tony Blair and Labour women MPs
Will Tony Blair be surrounded by women MPs from Wales?
Welsh Labour leaders could reopen a row with some parts of their party when they examine how to increase the number of women in politics.

The executive of the Wales Labour Party will meet on Friday to decide whether to impose all-women shortlists for the next Westminster elections.

But that would be strongly resisted by some local branches, who want to keep the freedom to choose their own candidate to become their next MP.

There would be fierce opposition, for example, in the south Wales valley seat of Blaenau Gwent.

'Real experts'

The local MP, Llew Smith, has announced that he will stand down at the next election.

Laura Jones
Laura Jones became a Conservative AM without a shortlist

He told BBC Radio Wales that any attempt to impose an all-woman shortlist on his local party would be resisted.

Mr Smith said: "This is not about positive discrimination.

"If it was, why aren't we discriminating in favour of people who are disabled, who come from ethnic minorities, (or) who come from working-class communities.

"This is about politics and what's ironic is that if this system had been in operation when my predecessors Nye Bevan and Michael Foot had been seeking nomination, they wouldn't have been able to apply for their positions."

"We've got a position in our constituency party where 100% of the party - that's both male and female - are determined that we are not going to be imposed on."

Women are 50% of the Labour Party (but) there have only been seven women MPs in Wales in the whole history of the vote
Julie Morgan MP

When asked what the Blaenau Gwent party would do to oppose any decision in favour of all-women shortlists, Mr Smith said: "I find it hard to imagine that they are going to sit back and accept that decision."

Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan, who is in favour of all-women shortlists, said their adoption was needed to end a situation in which just seven female MPs have ever represented Welsh seats.

Mrs Morgan said: "Women are 50% of the Labour Party (but) there have only been seven women MPs in Wales in the whole history of the vote.

"(At the moment) there are four women MPs out of 40.

"We have to take some measure to ensure that there's fairer representation."

He has said that he is not concerned whether the next MP is a man or a woman, but simply "a good socialist with a certain amount of courage".

Labour adopted all-women shortlists in six seats for this year's Welsh assembly election.

The results meant the assembly has 30 out of 60 women members - the first nationally-elected body in the world with at least 50% female representation.

Other parties have resisted imposing shortlists.

The Conservatives had no women AMs in the assembly's first term, but now two of their 11 are female.

Record number of women AMs
02 May 03  |  Wales
MP Smith to stand down
14 Dec 02  |  Wales

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