Labour announce all-woman shortlist for Batley and Spen seat

MP Mike Wood next to his plaque outside his office on Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton. (d15091101)
MP Mike Wood next to his plaque outside his office on Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton. (d15091101)

The Labour party will choose from an all-woman shortlist for the Batley and Spen parliamentary race.

Last week MP Mike Wood announced he will stand down at the next general election in 2015 after 18 years serving the constituency.

A Yorkshire Labour official confirmed that the national executive committee had decided to select from an all-female shortlist to improve the gender balance in the party.

The decision means the party has put forward women in three of the four parliamentary constituencies in Kirklees.

In Dewsbury and Mirfield, Labour candidate Paula Sheriff was chosen from a similar shortlist to contest Simon Reevell’s seat.

Binnie Joshi Barr was selected to contest the Colne Valley seat and the soon-to-be-decided female candidate for Batley and Spen will join the line up.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman will then become the only male MP in the district next year.

Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab, Batley West) called on his party to rally behind the chosen candidate.

He tweeted: “We should all accept and fully support Labour Party NEC’s decision for an AWS [all-woman shortlist] and focus our energy on selecting the best woman to be our PPC [Prospective Parliamentary Candidate].”

Spenborough Guardian readers also called for the right candidate to replace MP Mike Wood, regardless of their gender, on our Facebook page.

Dan Spencer said: “I fully support encouraging more women to enter politics to provide a more balanced and representative cross section of society.

“However, the elected representative should be the best candidate for the job from a fair and balanced process. Simply excluding half of the possible candidates and limiting the field to one group totally undermines the legitimacy of the final candidates position.”

Ralph Quarton said: “One of the women may well be the best candidate and if so, she should be chosen to stand at the next election.

“However surely the shortlist of candidates should also include men to make it a more legitimate process. I am all for equality but this is clearly an ill thought out step by the NEC.”

Matthew Haste was not convinced the all-female shortlist was the best way to improve gender balance.

He said: “I would like to see a shortlist of capable candidates, this is from the dark ages, and completely the wrong way of getting more women into parliament. You should not become a candidate because you are female.”

And Stuart Bennett said: “Should be illegal. We had Elizabeth Peacock for years and she got elected and re-elected because she was capable at her job. Candidates should stand on their merits. Labour won’t be getting my vote.”