A Tory police commissioner has raised concerns over her local party’s treatment of female politicians after failing to win automatic reselection for the £74,400 salary role.
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said she had made “a big difference in lots of different ways” over her seven years in the role and her daughters were “taking up the feminist mantle” after she received less than 50 per cent of the vote from about 100 members.
Party members who attended the private meeting in Tadcaster said there was little tension as ballot papers were counted and it did not appear the vote had been close.
After the meeting, Mrs Mulligan declined to say whether she would stand again for the role, but under party rules as the elected commissioner has the right to be on a shortlist of candidates, recruitment for which will start in May.
A number of Mrs Mulligan’s supporters and detractors compared her position to that of former Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh, who was deselected by North Yorkshire Tories in 2014 after 17 years in the House of Commons.
Mrs Mulligan said: “I don’t think North Yorkshire’s Conservative Party has got a terribly good record in terms of female politicians. There were one or two of the same people in the room last night, which was interesting.
“As I walked out of the room last night one of them said to me ‘we just want somebody to listen to us’. That’s fair enough, but what I think he meant was ‘we just want someone to do what we want’.”
Mrs Mulligan said she had lost votes by “fighting for what is right” over issues such as selling North Yorkshire Police’s former headquarters and taking governance of the county’s fire service.
Party members said the meeting had been attended by many district councillors who had opposed her fire service move.
After the vote some suggested there would be nothing to stop a candidate from running with a pledge to remove the fire service governance function from the commissioner’s role and restore the council-run fire authority.
Other party members claimed Mrs Mulligan had also failed to communicate with them, “cocking a snook, repeating the mistakes of former Thirsk MP Anne McIntosh”.
One supporter of Mrs Mulligan, who faced 20 minutes of questions from members at the meeting, said: “Some of the things she has done needed doing, but she has not been good at getting her message out first. Now she has been left fighting for her career.”
Other party members said they did not feel the vote had been representative of North Yorkshire Conservatives as only about one per cent of the party’s membership turned out for the vote.
Mrs Mulligan’s detractors said while the number of members who originally selected her at a meeting in Knaresborough in 2012 was far higher, the turnout in Tadcaster had also been higher than when she had been readopted at a meeting four years ago at Arkendale, near Boroughbridge.