This is Ruth Smeeth’s response to the questions put to NEC 2012 Candidates by LWN and Lead4Women.
As a candidate to the NEC we hope you’ll find time to answer the following questions so we can share your answers with our members and supporters:
Will you ensure that more Labour women are elected to parliament, including
requiring that a minimum of 50% of Labour’s parliamentary by-election
candidates should be women?
Yes, but I think it’s vital that we put more effort into recruiting and
empowering women to get involved, especially from across the wider labour
movement. Our communities deserve the best possible representatives and
that means that we need to work with people from across our movement to get
the best and strongest candidates.
Will you commit to supporting the continued use of all women shortlists and
to their application in seats with a strong Labour majority as well as
Labour’s target seats?
Yes, you only have to look at the results in my region, the West Midlands,
to see that we need more women selected in traditional Labour seats. Prior
to the 2010 election the West Midlands had 8 women MP’s, we now have 5 and
3 of them were elected for the first time to seats which didn’t have a
female incumbent. This more then anything else demonstrates how much work
we still have to do.
I was a candidate in one of our key marginals at the last election, Burton,
which was an AWS, so I am committed to getting more women selected and
elected in 2015.
What will you do to ensure equal and transparent application of AWS policy
across the regions, including in Scotland and Wales?
Given the boundary review, and the imminent changes to constituencies, this
selection cycle is not going to be typical, but we need to make sure that
the process is transparent and that the rules are applied equally and
Would you support the formulation and publication of clear criteria for the
application of AWS policy and what would your favoured criteria be?
I would definitely support the development of clear criteria for the
application of AWS across the country. CLP’s should know the rules and
framework within which they need to operate. In terms of criteria there
are a range of factors which need to be considered -
- The views of the local party (and local community) – in recent years
we’ve seen the impact of a mishandled selections,or where there has
been the appearance of unfairness. It’s vital that we work with local
parties as well as ensure a fair and even application of AWS selections to
ensure that there is neither resentment nor any perception of unfairness.
- Whether the seat has had an AWS previously – Burton has selected
female candidates in every general election since 1992, I think that they
would definitely consider a female candidate on an open selection. I don’t
think we should end up with seats for the boys and seats for women!
- the size of the majority – we need more women elected in safer seats
What will you do to ensure we have a 50:50 PLP and 50:50 Labour
administration in Scotland, Wales, London and local government?
I think we need to be realistic, this isn’t going to be a straightforward
process and may take a generation to resolve. I therefore think that it’s
incredibly important that we work at a grassroots level to ensure that we
have female candidates for every election at every level in the party.
What will you do to ensure that the proportion of women in the PLP
does not decrease as a result of boundary changes?
The proposed boundary changes are totally unacceptable, however we need to
be fully prepared to manage the situation. In the first instance we need
to support incumbent MP’s and CLP’s with the changes and then work the
newly created CLP’s to ensure that they is a fair and appropriate balance
Will you support our Refounding Labour proposals for changing the party,
including implementing a proper complaints process and building a fully
funded and organised Women’s organisation in the Labour Party?
Absolutely, one of the greatest challenges we have relates to resources and
how we best utilise what we have to defeat the Tories at the next
election. However we must also consider the longer term needs of the
party, including the investment we need to make in future candidates.