Pamela Nash has just been selected as Labour candidate for Airdrie and Coatbridge. She beat Jo Milligan, whom I worked with for years (don’t think she’s spilling the beans quite yet, but obv I have to keep on her good side!) and Cathy Dick, a former local councillor. Pamela is a young woman of unusual personal depth and strength. Her story will, I expect, become better known soon. Jo could quite readily run the Labour Party now – she’s a force of nature. And I don’t know Cathy Dick, but my colleagues speak highly of her and I imagine she’s of a similar calibre to the others.
Pamela was selected from an all-women shortlist. That’s always a difficult sell, especially where men dominate the party. Women often object to all-women shortlists too. I understand why. It’s a constraint on member’s freedom to choose. But sometimes, needs must. The simple fact is that without that occasionally-applied constraint, the number of women in parliament would decline sharply. For many, the question is one of quality – will women selected by this means be of lower quality that men/women selected on open lists? In this case, I defy anyone to say that quality has suffered. Yet, frankly, even if it had, the point about politicians is that the folk they represent feel they’re the right person to reflect their mores and views in parliament, and that they represent the population as a whole – not that personnel managers will rave about their rehearsed interview skills.
Pamela, and actually Jo too in due course, will have impressive political careers. For what that’s worth. And much of the credit will lie with Harriet Harman, actually.