Vauxhall Labour Party hit back at criticism after being derided for passing a motion requesting their next parliamentary candidate comes from a women-only shortlist.
A tweet by the party last week confirming the single-sex request attracted more than 3,500 comments, many criticising the plan for being discriminatory and patronising.
The proposal was overwhelmingly carried at Vauxhall Labour Party’s General Committee and comes just weeks after Kate Hoey, the consistency’s MP since 1989, announced she would not stand at the next general election.
Chair of the party Simon Lydiard said: “We are not surprised by the reaction. It is just a sample of the level of misogyny that a number of women MPs get, not just Labour ones.
“Women are more encouraged to apply when there is an all-woman shortlist. It’s just a fact I’m afraid, that women are less likely to apply for an open selection.”
Among those criticising the plan was Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly who suggested Labour could not be trusted to select a female candidate purely on merit.
Mr Lydiard said: “It is an unfair comment. We need to bear in mind that positive or affirmative action programmes exist in many other countries to encourage the selection of female MPs, and some have legal quotas.
“I would say the Labour Party is ahead of the game in the UK.”
Mr Lydiard claimed the Conservatives have a long way to go regarding gender equality with 21% of their MPs being female, compared with 45% of Labour MPs.
The motion has been sent to the General Secretary of the Labour Party and staff will compile a report before the National Executive Committee makes a final decision to reject or approve the proposal.
Vauxhall Labour Party has more than 2,000 members and they will have the opportunity to select the final candidate on a one member, one vote basis.
Several notable female Labour MPs have been selected from all-women shortlists in the past, including Jess Phillips, Angela Rayner and Lisa Nandy and the idea was debated in Vauxhall Labour Party for several years before Hoey’s announcement prompted action.
Hoey’s strong pro-Brexit rhetoric has proved especially controversial in Vauxhall, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum. The motion would also guarantee places on the shortlist for BAME candidates, reflecting a constituency where more than 50% of residents are of this background.
The party’s chair has a clear idea of the credentials needed by the next MP.
He said: “We will want candidates to be understanding of the diverse nature of Vauxhall.
“We also have one of the largest LGBT+ communities in the country so we want somebody who can represent diversity of opinion, including representing a constituency that voted 79% to remain in the European referendum.”