Labour to fight Amber with female candidate

THE fight to become the next MP for Hastings will be fought predominantly by two women.

Labour confirmed this week that it would select Michael Foster’s successor from an all-woman short-list - with the winner going head-to-head with current MP Amber Rudd.

Nationally, the Labour Party has pledged to address the imbalance between men and women in the House of Commons by forcing local parties to select female candidates.

And, no doubt mindful of the fact the local seat had already returned two female MPs in Amber Rudd and Jacqui Lait, party bigwigs chose Hastings and Rye among its quota.

Whoever wins will also be up against the Lib Dem candidate, probably, Nick Perry, but according to the town’s current MP, all women short-lists have no place in 2011. Ms Rudd told the Observer: “I think it is extraordinary that Labour is still using this system in this day and age.

“I can understand why the party introduced it originally, but the time has definitely past for this sort of thing.

“A candidate should be chosen on merit, regardless of sex.

“I think it would be better for the eventual candidate not to have been undermined by narrowing the selection process.

“It is good for me because they are only selecting from 50 per cent of the talent.”

However, the chairman of the local Labour Party defended the decision.

Cllr Bruce Dowling said: “This does not come as a surprise because we all know women are still in the minority in Parliament and I can understand why the party has decided to do this.

“We are still confident we will select the best candidate who will fight for the people of this town.”

Nevertheless, he did concede that the single sex short-list could undermine the eventual winner, with voters aware they were only chosen from half the potential field.

He said: “I think most of the people planning on running would agree that we would have preferred an open list.”

The candidates are expected to be announced shortly.