Monday 26 October 2009

Nadine phones a friend

Nadine Dorries last week on ConservativeHome.

Sometimes I feel sorry for some of the Labour women who were selected via all-women shortlists. Everyone knows who they are.

Now here's Nadine Dorries today on twitter:

How many women are their in Gordon Browns cabinet who were selected via an all woman shortlist? And, who are they? Anyone know?

Yes - everyone does, Nadine. Everyone.

Especially since Nadine's claim that "everyone knows who they are" was approvingly quoted with great gustos of agreement by Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail on Friday, albeit while unfortunately proving that "everyone" did not include Platell herself, as she attacked Caroline Flint and Ruth Kelly for being selected on all women shortlists.

But, since we are crowd-sourcing here, I am perfectly happy to play the phone a friend role for Nadine.

Indeed, as I wrote on the shortlists debate just before Dorries' first ConservativeHome post was published, "After all, 35 of Labour's new women MPs in 1997 were selected on all women shortlists and 30 were not. (You can find the list in the appendix of the Nuffield study, but I guarantee that you would simply be guessing if you tried to separate them by means of selection)".

If you don't have the book to hand, why not try this link to the House of Commons library paper, so helpfully updated last Monday.

After all, anybody who reads that would be able to find out what it seems that everyone already knows.

UPDATE: Tuesday. Nadine Dorries sent a further tweet on Monday night suggesting her twitter question was intended to be rhetorical, having stated that there were no AWS women in the Cabinet on Any Questions last weekend? See my comment in the thread for more on this. The idea that everybody knows which women were selected on AWS remains, in my view, absurd.


Bob said...

She wants to know, she doesnt want to work it out.............

Bearded Socialist said...

the old thing about never letting facts get in the way of a good conservative rant comes to mind

Sunder Katwala said...

At the risk of over-mining this rich seam, let me make a prediction.

When Nadine Dorries gets the answer to her question, she may well trumpet it as proof that women elected on AWS are not taken seriously, compared to other MPs. But I predict she will base this on "number of AWS women in cabinet" and not what might be needed: a comparison of whether the promotion prospects of the 1997 women were different to those of the 1997 men.

Fortunately, such a study exists. Indeed Rebecca Lury's findings from her phD were reported in a Fabian Review article last Christmas. But it is not yet our move, so let us hold on with what those findings were at this stage, so that Nadine has every chance to develop her own argument.

(That approach is necessary since there have been only two elections - 97 and 05 - where AWS was usef; and we would not expect the number of MPs (male or female) from those cohorts in the Cabinet to be much higher than it is. (This post from last March, looking at what 4-term term limits would mean for Parliamentary careers of current Cabinet, gives a snapshot - pre the last reshuffle - of the range of 'years first elected' in a Cabinet).

Jim Jepps said...

Well spotted!

Tom Freeman said...

"a comparison of whether the promotion prospects of the 1997 women were different to those of the 1997 men"

Wouldn't the better comparison be AWS women vs non-AWS women? Otherwise any simple gender effect and any effect of the AWS process will confound one another.

I don't know what that might show, but you have prompted me to compare the 2001 re-election prospects of the AWS women with those of the non-AWS women. I find no significant difference.

Robert said...

Mine was a short list a short list of one, a safe seat and here she is. She will fit in nice in your area. but sadly she does not fit in at all.

Sunder Katwala said...


Thanks for the post and link. Yes, that would be the right question. I am not sure whether that does exist. (Lury's study reports that Labour women overall did slightly better than the men in government jobs and promotion). The 1997 intake was almost two-thirds men; I imagine disaggregating the women would make it unlikely that this is because the AWS women did worse than men, while the non-AWS women much better than the non-AWS men, which would have to be the case if AWS had a negative impact while women did better than men.

Sunder Katwala said...

I now think that this post may, in fact, be unintentionally unfair to Nadine Dorries.

For she has tweeted last night that

" # So Jaquie S shouts 'not true' on A/Q when I said there were no MPs from AWS in the cabinet. I've waited all day 4 someone to put me right ...

# But of course, they can't. What wasn't true was Jaquie Smith's porkie pie when she shouted 'not true'about 16 hours ago from web"

It was not at all clear to me that Dorries knew the answer to her question, hence this post; but if she did already state at the weekend on Any Questions that there were no AWS women in the Cabinet, then that can be substantiated. (I had not heard Any Questions, so was unaware of this, was so responding to what her words seemed to mean).


I stand by the broader points, and I think Dorries is wrong on the substantive point which I was challenging, about AWS and non-AWS women MPs.

1. It is not the case that "everyone knows" whether, say, Yvette Cooper was selected on an AWS or open selection in 1997. As Amanda Platell so clearly proved.

I would estimate that there are not more than a half a dozen people in the country outside Parliament who would have the AWS/notAWS distinction in their heads if offered a list of say 20 1997 Labour women and asked to sort 10 in each category. (The six exceptions may be academics studying the issue; campaign officers at Fawcett; or selections officials at Labour HQ).

I would be impressed if any of the political lobby could get 100% on that without looking up the list first. (I am sure I couldn't).

I am also sceptical as to whether there would be many more than a dozen in Parliament (though some women MPs involved in Emily's List type campaigns may know).(In fact, Jacqui Smith not knowing - perhaps she thinks Cooper was AWS - rather undermines Dorries' opening "everyone knows" argument.

2. I think my prediction that Nadine Dorries will make more of the lack of an AWS Cabinet Minister than the data justifies will be borne out too. But let's give her a chance.