Tory bidder rejects all-female shortlists

Cotswold Journal: MP AND SUCCESSOR: Sir Peter Luff, left, who is to retire, and candidate Nigel Huddleston. MP AND SUCCESSOR: Sir Peter Luff, left, who is to retire, and candidate Nigel Huddleston.

THE Conservative parliamentary candidate for Mid-Worcestershire has shrugged off controversy over a lack of women in the Commons and has rejected calls for all-female shortlists.

Nigel Huddleston, an executive at Google, said the best solution was to make MPs’ jobs more attractive to women in the first place.

Sir Peter Luff is retiring in 2015, and Mr Huddleston, who is moving to Worcestershire within weeks, won a hard-fought selection battle in December.

David Cameron is known to be irritated about a lack of women breaking through as parliamentary candidates, letting party branches know he is unhappy. Mr Huddleston said the biggest problem is the House of Commons not being “family friendly”.

“The real problem is that we need more women to apply to become a parliamentary candidate,” he said.

“And to do that we’ve got to make it more attractive to them. One of the scary things if you look at the 2010 intake of MPs is how many are separated or getting divorces or stepping down.

“Parliament must become a more family-friendly place. I don’t think being an MP is attractive enough a proposition for many people at the moment.” He also said he would not be happy at any positive discrimination if it gathered momentum.

Tory MP Sarah Wollaston has already said if the party gets less than 40 per cent female representation in the commons after 2015, it should shift to all-women shortlists. Mr Huddleston said: “I don’t have time for positive discrimination – there is a risk it leads to people saying ‘you only got to where you are because of this’. What we’ve really got to do is make it a better option for people with families, rather than have allwomen shortlists.” Mr Huddleston is moving to Badsey, near Evesham.

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