Quick hit

I’d like to recommend that everyone reads Nan Sloane’s excellent comment is free article in the guardian

http:// http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/29/five-ways-more-women-uk-politics

Her suggestions as what needs to be done are eminently sensible and I find myself agreeing with every single one.

However what I found most interesting was the top picks comment on this piece by chattykathy14

But unfortunately we (non professional politicians) can’t get past the selection panels which are composed of party activists and hold to the view that if you haven’t been a member since 1931, attended every branch meeting and campaigned for t’Party at every opportunity, then you don’t get selected.
I’ve been carpetbagged on two seats (one is my home constituency, the other borders it): first by a well connected Oxbridge type who is making a real hash of winning an extremely winnable margin (the campaign workers are brilliant. She isn’t); second by an incomer who doesn’t understand the complexity of constituency and who admitted that she’s only here for experience. My consolation prize was to be begged to stand in the local elections. I declined. I want a shot at Westminster. I’m still looking for seat.

This is what puts women off. You try. You fail. You find out why you failed and its nothing to do with your particular qualities or qualifications. You retire from the fray because it’s so loaded against you.

There seem to be a lot of assumptions in this comment so I will break down my immediate response.

I find it interesting that she both complains of party members needing an eon of experience then talks about “carpet baggers”. The two seem to me to be mutually exclusive, if they only selected people who have attended every branch meeting why would they then turn around and select a newcomer who doesn’t understand the constituency?

Maybe the selected candidate did a better presentation, canvassed members thoroughly and convinced them she was the candidate for them. The majority of selections happen outside of hustings, candidates who canvas members, take the time to get to know them and their issues and has a cup of tea with them.

Standing in your own constituency or neighbouring you are more likely to be known to the party members and sadly more likely to make enemies or be friends with people who have enemies. Being well known can work against you as well as with you. Coming in fresh can win candidates support because they don’t come with this history and baggage. Yes, shenanigans do happen, but in my experience they are a lot rarer than gossip would make them out to be.

Then the description of local government as a consolation prize and dismissing it because they want Westminster. If I was a local party member I would be rather annoyed at this attitude, it sounds to me as if they are dismissing the importance of councils and how vital what they do is. Maybe local party members think she needs some seasoning and experience or maybe they think she would be really good as a councillor.

Whenever you put yourself forward for something you run the risk of disappointment, it’s how you respond to that and your behaviour afterwards that truly shows what sort of person you are and make party members support you in future.

I always remind myself that it took Betty Boothroyd five attempts (and numerous selections she didn’t get) before she was successful and look how far she went.