Wales politics

Cynon Valley all-women shortlist backed by Carwyn Jones

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Media captionThe Cynon Valley has had a female MP for 30 years

A controversial all-women's shortlist for Labour in a south Wales valleys constituency has been backed by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Sitting Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd is retiring at the 2015 general election and Labour must choose a new candidate.

Welsh Labour said the candidate must be chosen from a female-only shortlist which has angered some local members.

But Mr Jones said the party always tried to ensure parliament consisted of people from a wide section of society.

Some local Labour members want to meet urgently with senior Labour officials.

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

But the first minister said: "We as a party have always tried to make sure that parliament and the assembly reflects society as a whole - it isn't made up from people from a very small section of society.

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Image caption Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd is stepping down at next year's general election

"That's why I think it's important that we continue as a party to do what we are doing to get as many people as possible from as many backgrounds in society into parliament and the assembly.

"Sometimes it's important to use particular methods to make sure that fairness actually occurs."

He also said that he did not want a situation in the assembly where there were too few women and there was a group of men running the country.

'Own decision'

Ms Clwyd herself 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."

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

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."


Labour peer Baroness Gale said there had only been 13 women MPs in Wales in 96 years.

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

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Media captionCarwyn Jones says Labour has always fought to ensure elected bodies reflect the country as a whole

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-female 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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