Wales politics

Cynon Valley all-women shortlist row MP backs local party

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Media captionLabour peer Baroness Gale said there had only been 13 women MPs in Wales in 96 years

The Labour MP at the centre of a row over an enforced all-women shortlist to replace her says local party members should be allowed to make their own decisions.

The Cynon Valley constituency needs a replacement as MP Ann Clwyd retires at next year's general election.

They have been told the new candidate must be chosen from a female-only shortlist.

The edict, from the Welsh Labour party, and has angered some local members.

Some now want to meet urgently with senior Labour officials, which says it has a proud record of increasing diversity in politics.

Local secretary Alun Williams said the constituency needed the best candidate, regardless of their gender, and the local party was being "taken for granted".

Ms Clwyd said she did not want to influence the process, but added: "It's completely up to the people in the party locally to make their own decision on it."

'Supporting women'

She was first elected at the 1984 Cynon Valley by-election and was the fourth woman to represent a Welsh constituency.

Image caption Ann Clwyd said she does not want to influence the process

Mr Williams said the constituency had a "proud record of supporting women in political activity" with an MP, AM and women Labour councillors on Rhondda Cynon Taf council.

However, he said local members' views "were ignored" when they told the Labour Party they were opposed to an all-women shortlist for Ms Clwyd's seat.

"We are sending a letter of protest to the Labour Party general secretary and asking for an urgent meeting," he added.

A Welsh Labour Party spokesman said: "Labour lead the way on female representation in Wales with more women MPs, AMs and councillors than any other party and we will continue to do so."

The decision to extend the use of all-women shortlists was taken in May by a sub-committee of Labour's National Executive Committee.

It means at least half of its 18 new candidates in 2015 will be women with Montgomeryshire still to select along with Cynon Valley and Swansea East as MP Sian James is also standing down at next year's election.

In the 2005 general election, Labour lost Blaenau Gwent following a row over the party's imposition of an all-woman shortlist for the Westminster seat.

Sitting Labour AM Peter Law then became an independent in protest at the shortlist.

He was elected the MP and remained the AM for the seat, but he died in 2006.

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