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More Tory women in Commons 'is vital'

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ANN WIDDECOMBE: Kent's only woman MP
ANN WIDDECOMBE: Kent's only woman MP

LEADING Conservatives in Kent have been urged by their party chairman to adopt more women candidates to fight the next general election.

Theresa May, guest speaker at the annual dinner of the Ashford Conservative Constituency Association, said it was vital that more women became MPs if the Conservative party was to have a broader appeal to the electorate.

Asked if she felt the key to winning back seats in the county which were lost to Labour in 1997 and 2001, she said: “As a party generally we do need more women and I am very keen to see more women selected for seats that we aim to win.

“The skills that are needed are not just public speaking; they are about interaction, relating to people and listening. Associations must think more widely; on top of that, the party needs a broader representation in Parliament and one of the keys to that is to have more women.”

Kent's only woman MP is Tory Ann Widdecombe who represents Maidstone and the Weald. In 2001, the Conservative party failed to recapture any of the eight Kent seats they first lost in 1997.

None of its candidates then were women and those associations which have selected prospective parliamentary candidates have all opted for men.

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