Another day, another female MP decides to quit politics. Ann Clwyd has announced that, after 30 years in the Commons, she will not be standing in 2015.
Female MPs have been in the news of late – either because they are retiring or fighting de-selection. On yesterday’s edition of the Andrew Marr Show, Harriet Harman said: ‘My concern is that we’re having a sort of cull of senior, authoritative women and they’re all being replaced by men’. She then went on to use this as evidence that the Tories have a ‘women problem’.
The numbers, though, tell a slightly different story. There were 48 female Tory MPs in 2010. Lorraine Fulbrook, Jessica Lee and Laura Sandys have announced that they will not be seeking re-election. Add Louise Mensch, who stepped down in 2012 to spend more time with her Twitter account, to their number and the casualty rate stands at 8.3%. (Anne Mcintosh will be running again in 2015, even if her local party want someone else.) However, seven female Labour MPs have said that they will be off at the next election: Ann Clwyd, Dawn Primarolo, Tessa Jowell, Glenda Jackson, Joan Ruddock, Anne McGuire and Joan Walley. That’s a loss rate of 8.1%.
In other words the Tories and Labour are losing the same amount of women – 8% – proportionately. But when have the facts ever got in the way of a cracking wheeze?