Turns out I got at least the direction of the political momentum right when I described the Lib Dem Deputy Leadership contest earlier this week and said that Malcolm Bruce was “recently strongly showing”. For in the end, he did indeed win, beating Lorely Burt by just three votes (28-25).
By a neat political coincidence, the Lib Dem selection contest to replace Malcolm Bruce at the 2015 election, when he retires, has been taking place at the same time. This time a woman won, the admirable Christine Jardine.
That adds to an interesting selection record in seats where Lib Dem MPs are standing down:
Alan Beith, Berwick-upon-Tweed – Julie Pörksen selected
Annette Brooke, Mid Dorset and North Poole – Vikki Slade selected
Malcolm Bruce, Gordon – Christine Jardine selected
Andrew Stunell, Hazel Grove – Lisa Smart selected
Sarah Teather, Brent Central – Ibrahim Taguri selected.
Three selections completed where white male Lib Dem MPs retiring; all the selections won by women. Two selections completed where white female MPs standing down; one won by a woman and one by a BME man.
That overall balance isn’t a coincidence but rather the result of a big push to support a more diverse set of people through approval and selection.
Of course, selection isn’t the same as winning – as the result in 2010 shows, where only a slightly better election result would have resulted in a significantly better (or rather, less worse) gender balance in the Parliamentary Party.
Efforts to get women, in particular, selected in winnable seats paid off before 2010. They’re doing so again for 2015. But will this time the election results turn that into a Parliamentary Party in which the majority of the population is no longer a small minority of its ranks?