Darren Williams

Please see below for NEC candidate Darren William's response to our letter on AWS
I have always supported the use of All-Women Shortlists (AWS), which are, as you say, the only effective way of addressing the long-standing under-representation of women in Parliament.  The number of women MPs remained virtually static between 1945 and 1997 and it was only Labour's introduction of AWS during the 1990s that produced a significant increase (and even now, fewer than a quarter of MPs are women). Similarly, it was undoubtedly Welsh Labour's adoption of the policy of 'twinning' seats - with one male and one female candidate in each case - that enabled gender balance to be achieved in the National Assembly for Wales. Without continued positive action, we will see no further progress.
If elected to the NEC, I would certainly, therefore, support the continuation of the policy of AWS until the attainment of gender balance in Westminster.

I do think, however, that we need to be careful to ensure that AWS is used in a transparent and consistent way, to maximise membership support. In the past, the policy has been ill-served by its inconsistent application, which has fed concerns that it is used as much as a mechanism to promote some candidates and exclude others as to promote gender balance.  We urgently need to establish clear, robust and transparent criteria for the use of AWS, in order to secure support for the policy from party members. There will, unfortunately, continue to be opposition within the party to AWS based on sexism or ignorance but we should at least try to ensure that we do not alienate party members who are well-disposed towards the policy in principle but concerned that it might be used for purposes other than securing gender equality in Parliament.  
Best wishes
Darren Williams