The implementation of equality-based candidate selection decisions in the British Labour and Conservative Parties

Jeanette Ashe*, Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs, Joni Lovenduski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Our chapter investigates the operation of party processes and practices of candidate selection at the micro-level in the Labour and Conservative parties in the UK General Election of 2015. While both parties explicitly seek greater numbers of women at Westminster, asymmetry in women’s descriptive representation in the House of Commons remains marked. In the UK as elsewhere, political parties identify goals and adopt rules and procedures to reach them. The process involves determining how recruitment rules will be implemented and upheld when they face resistance. A comparatively unregulated context combined with permissive legislation that allows the use of sex quotas, gives political parties considerable freedom to design candidate selection procedures. Candidate selection decisions are made by a combination of party leaders, MPs, senior party officials, and activists. While key policy decisions may be taken by party leaders, the implementers on the ground are often party members and volunteers, acting locally. They have different levels of commitment which in turn are partly but not completely commensurate with their different roles. In 2015, Labour chose to use a sex quota for Westminster while the Conservatives relied upon informal measures. For each party we describe the tools, instruments, and processes that mediated the implementation of the equality strategy and consider how their design and use affected the outcome. We find that the strategic differences in the two parties regarding the use of equality guarantees have a strong effect on their implementation practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParty Politics and the Impact of Gender Quotas
Subtitle of host publicationResisting Institutions
EditorsSabine Lang, Petra Meier, Brigit Sauer
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031089312
ISBN (Print)9783031089305, 9783031089336
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2022

Publication series

NameGender and Politics
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2662-5814
ISSN (Electronic)2662-5822

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • quotas
  • gender
  • British politics
  • Labour Party
  • Conservative Party
  • political recruitment


Dive into the research topics of 'The implementation of equality-based candidate selection decisions in the British Labour and Conservative Parties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this