Tories deny sexism after female hopefuls rejected November 10, 2006Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, female, Sexism, Sexist, woman, Women.
THE Conservative Party in Budleigh has defended its selection process after two male political novices were chosen to stand at next year’s district elections over two more experienced female candidates.
Each district ward has three members to represent it, and last Thursday evening Budleigh’s Conservative branch underwent a selection process to determine who would represent them in the Budleigh ward.
Of the six applicants – two female and four male – the three chosen were all male. They are sitting councillor and East Devon District Council portfolio holder for the environment Ray Franklin and two with no political experience – Malcolm Florey, former head of Biction College, and local businessman Steve Hall.
One of the two unsuccessful female candidates was a sitting Independent councillor since 2003, Lesley Roden, who had expressed a wish to cross the floor to the Conservative Party last summer.
The other candidate was Caz Sismore-Hunt, a Budleigh town councillor for 12 years and former town mayor.
Mrs Sismore-Hunt said: “I’m obviously disappointed that I didn’t get selected. It is curious that not a single woman has been selected to stand for the Conservative Party in the Budleigh Ward for 16 years.”
Each of the six candidates was asked the same six questions and was given 15 minutes to respond to a nine-member selection committee before being given the chance to ask their own questions.
Alan Jones, a member of the selection committee said: “There was no conspiracy from what I could see. They chose the best candidates for the job. Everybody had a vote and after we voted they were nominated as candidates. To me it seemed perfectly above board.”
Neither branch treasurer Tim Wood nor Tory agent for East Budleigh and Budleigh Salterton, Jonathon Quinn, had a vote and were chosen as independent observers.
Mr Quinn said: “Everyone who voted was a member of the local branch, all from Budleigh. I’m keen to stamp out this nonsense about us being against women candidates. In the past we have had many female councillors representing Budleigh.
“The current leader of the Conservative group at Devon County Council is Christine Channon, and she was selected by this committee.
“Everything was done by the rules, but we are not just going to select women for the sake of it. We chose the best candidates for the job.
Conservative leader David Cameron has introduced an action plan to identify potential ‘A-list’ female candidates for parliamentary elections.
But a spokesman from Conservative Central Office confirmed there were no plans for a similar strategy at local level.