Conservative MPs are worried about the lack of women being selected to stand as candidates in the 2015 election, with some calling for immediate action to ensure that more women make it on to the ballot papers.
At least half a dozen of the most promising female candidates are being given special training from Conservative headquarters as the party attempts to shoehorn them into safe constituencies of retiring grandees – Sir George Young, Tim Yeo and Sir Peter Tapsell, say two Conservative women involved in the process.
So far only two of the seven safe Tory seats selected so far have gone to female candidates. However, the party says that five out of the last 12 selections have gone to women and this has nudged the number of women on its candidate list to just over 30 per cent, from 28 per cent in May.
All three parties are trying to boost female representation in the next election, given the acute under-representation of women in parliament. Just over one in five MPs are women despite them making up just over half of the population. Within Europe, the UK ranks 15th out of 28 countries for female representation, trailing Germany, France and Spain.