A LABOUR politician in a constituency hit by a rift over an all-women shortlist expressed reservations about plans to boost the number of female Labour candidates.

The executive member of Blaenau Gwent Council spoke out yesterday after the Welsh Labour Party unveiled proposals to increase the number of women selected in winnable seats to 50 per cent at the next council elections – with party conference backing the use of 50:50 shortlists.

A Labour decision to select Maggie Jones for the Blaenau Gwent parliamentary constituency in 2005 from an all-women shortlist imposed on the constituency backfired when they lost the seat to rebel Paul Law, creating a major rift in the area. Labour later lost control of Blaenau Gwent council.

Labour Councillor Haydn Trollope, executive member for work transformation and partnership at Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “I believe it should be the right candidate for the job whatever the gender. I honestly believe that the Labour Party has got to learn from mistakes from the past.”

Mother-of-two Ruth Jones has been selected to fight the Monmouth parliamentary seat at the next general election for Labour through an all-women shortlist.

She said: “You can’t have 50 per cent of the electorate unrepresented in the party. But you have to do it in a way so as not to alienate people."

Labour Councillor for Newport Chris Evans added: “Positive discrimination is broadly a good thing and in principle I welcome it."

A Labour party spokesman said: “We make absolutely no apologies for seeking to ensure fair gender representation. The current state of affairs is not good and women are under-represented with only 26 per cent of councillors in Wales being women."