Conservative Assembly Member, Jonathon Morgan published this essay yesterday. I find it both interesting - and contradictory. I agree with his general analysis of issues that need to be addressed, but not with his suggested remedy. The main issue is the relative absence of women elected to represent the Conservative Party in Wales - at both Cardiff and Westminster. Jonathon is repeating a call, made earlier by the Leader of the Conservative Group in the Assembly, Nick Bourne. They both believe that there should be positive discrimination in favour of women and ethnic minorities.
Regret to say that I don't agree with either of them. If all else were to fail, perhaps we should think about it. But we haven't really tried. If the party is serious about change, it would be giving women a much higher profile, and the opportunity to make their mark. Every year we hold conferences and policy forums. Why not give our female candidates the best slots - rather than wheel out the same list of speakers from Wales (almost exclusively male), with a 'name' or two from outside Wales - time after time. Why not issue press releases in the name of the party's most able women. Personally, I would find Party events much more interesting - and the higher profile would make our ambitious prospective female politicians much better known. Name recognition is such a big factor in electoral success.
Now lets look at the contradiction in Jonathon's essay. He suggests that the way to implement his proposal for positive discrimination is to place a woman at the top of every regional list in the next (I assume) Assembly election. This would mean demotion for William Graham, Brynle Williams, Alun Cairns (if he's a candidate), David Melding, Mark Isherwood, Andrew Davies and Nick Bourne. It could easily mean that all, or at least five of these current AMs would not be re-elected. Now, I cannot for one moment imagine that this is what Jonathon would want to see happen.
Yet, in the same essay, he's suggesting that the very same AMs, elected by the regional lists be given the security of almost automatic reappointment to their list ranking. I can see that there's a respectable case to be made in favour of either approach, but not both at the same time. Personally, I'd prefer to leave the current system alone - allowing party members the choice, but making a genuine and sustained effort to raise the profile of women interested in representative politics.