Wales politics

Welsh Labour to appoint woman as deputy leader in 2018

Baroness Gale
Image caption Baroness Gale has been a prominent campaigner for more women in politics

A woman will be appointed as Welsh Labour's newly-created deputy leader.

Baroness Anita Gale, shadow minister for women and equalities in the House of Lords, said it was to address gender imbalance at the top of the party.

The Welsh party does not have a deputy at present and a vote is set to be held at the party conference in April.

Baroness Gale said: "We have to have a gender balanced leadership and at least one of the leadership team has to be a woman."

The move follows the revelation that just one in four top elected positions on Welsh councils is held by a woman.

"There are big barriers there for women - we try to overcome those barriers but I think all parties have a big problem with selecting women candidates," Baroness Gale told BBC Wales' Sunday Supplement programme.

She said rules on who would be eligible to stand and how the election will be fought would be decided at the Welsh Labour conference.

This means the deputy could be an AM, MP or possibly a councillor.

Image caption Christina Rees is one of Labour's MPs who was chosen from an all-woman shortlist

Some efforts by Welsh Labour to increase the number of women in politics have been met with resistance.

In 2006, then-Welsh Secretary Peter Hain apologised after the party imposed an all-woman shortlist on Blaenau Gwent for the 2005 general election.

Peter Law left Labour in protest and stood as an independent candidate, defeating Labour's Maggie Jones.

Labour persisted with this approach and in the 2015 general election, the candidates for Swansea East and Cynon Valley were chosen from a list of women.

In 2016, Merthyr Tydfil council leader Brendan Toomey voiced his concerns at the all-woman shortlist for Labour's Merthyr and Rhymney candidate to replace AM Huw Lewis.

Lord Hain was himself replaced by a candidate from an all-women shortlist when Christina Rees succeeded him as Neath MP in 2015.

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