LABOUR’s ruling UK body has voted against making the selection for one of the party’s safest Westminster seats in Scotland an all-women shortlist.
The decision by the party’s UK national executive committee (NEC) means Labour MSP Richard Baker, who is reported to have expressed an interest in Aberdeen North, will be free to seek selection in the constituency as a potential MP.
Scotland on Sunday revealed this week that North East MSP Baker, a director of anti-independence campaign Better Together, was considering leaving Holyrood for Westminster.
A meeting of Labour’s NEC in London today said that Aberdeen North, where sitting MP Frank Doran is retiring at the 2015 General Election, would be open to male and female candidates.
Mr Baker has refused to discuss his plans for the Aberdeen North, which Labour held with a majority of 8,361 in 2010.
However, Labour is expected to select its candidate to fight the election in the constituency before the summer.
Labour’s NEC decided to make five of seven Westminster candidate selections all-women shortlists, including Glenrothes where the sitting MP Lindsay Roy is standing down next year.
Party members will have to select their candidates from all-women shortlists in Blackburn - the seat represented by former foreign secretary Jack Straw, who is retiring.
Labour will also select a candidate from an-women shortlist in Dulwich and West Norwood, which is represented by former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell.
The party’s NEC also opted for all-women shortlists in St Helens and Stoke. However, there will be an open selection in Aberavon, the NEC decided.
Under Labour policy 50 per cent of all winnable Westminster seats, including where a sitting MP from the party is retiring, are designated as all-women shortlists. The policy is aimed at boosting female representation in the Commons.
A Labour Party spokesman, speaking after today’s NEC meeting, said: “Labour is working to increase the diversity and representativeness of Parliament and has a proud record of increasing the number of women and ethnic minority MPs. In working to achieve this we believe that members should play a major role in selecting their candidates.
“If people want a Parliament that is more open, plural and democratic then we need to make big changes. Labour has the most successful record of women’s representation in comparison to all other political parties and will always have equality as a core value.”