Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A vacancy in Shakespeare's town

John Maples has announced that he is to stand down as MP for Stratford upon Avon. This is a gold plated Conservative seat with Maples taking 51.3 per cent of the vote at the last general election. Many years ago it was the seat of John Profumo of the Profumo scandal.

Maples was at one time seen as something of a rising star in the Conservative Party holding two Treasury posts before losing his seat at Lewisham West in 1997. He returned to the Commons in 1997 and held various shadow posts until 2000.

Redistricting in Warwickshire has created a new safe Conservative seat in Kenilworth and Southam. The Conservatives should be able to win Rugby from Labour and they should also take Warwick and Leamington if they do as well as expected.

All these seats have male Conservative candidates. Indeed, in Warwick and Leamington there may not be a woman on the ballot paper. David Cameron has been keen to increase the number of women Conservative MPs, but this is not always easy in safe Conservative seats. Labour has used all women shortlists which are often unpopular with the electorate but academics like Sarah Childs who have researched the subject suggest that it is the most effective way of reducing the gender imbalance in the Commons.

Whoever does become the Conservative candidate for Stratford will be nominated for a plum seat that contains some attractive towns, villages and countryside.


VickyK86 said...

The way the polls are going, it looks very possible that no one party will have an overall majority at the 2010 General Election. Even if they do, it could be small and make for an unstable government if they tried to go it alone.

I found a really interesting website where you can discuss and debate about the possibility of a Hung Parliament, its www.charter2010.co.uk

In the past, a party often had to command nearly half of the vote to obtain even a small majority in the House of Commons. But as the minority and national parties have grown, it has become increasingly possible for the Conservatives or Labour still to become the largest party in Parliament – even though around two-thirds of the voters want someone else in charge.

Wyn Grant said...

Thanks for the reference to the site. Typically what a party has done in the past if its majority is insufficient is to hold another election - in all cases in the post-war period this has been a Labour government: 1950/51 (defeated); 1964/66 (big increase in majority); 1974/74 (very small increase in majority). Whether that would be an attractive option given the financial backdrop is an open question.

Simon Smethurst-McIntyre said...

CCHQ would never get away with an all woman shortlist to Stratford. (Stratfordians are known to not like change).

There is great controversy at present over the enforcement of a shortlist and what the ultimate process will be