A Tory councillor has been forced to apologise after he posted a picture of scantily-clad models on Twitter – and compared it to the selection of a female Labour candidate.
Richard Davies posted the saucy snap during a discussion about Labour’s all-women shortlists which resulted in Lucy Rigby being picked as prospective MP for Lincoln.
On Monday 35-year-old Davies posted a picture on his Twitter page featuring eight women in underwear standing in front of a pair of red curtains.
He posted the snap to Lincoln’s Tory MP Karl McCartney alongside the comment: “Actual photo of the hustings?”
He made the comments during a discussion on Twitter about Labour’s all-women shortlists which are intended to boost the number of female MPs in Parliament.
Ms Rigby, a former solicitor specialising in competition, was selected as the Labour Party candidate in 2012 and will fight the Lincoln seat in next year’s General Election.
She retweeted cllr Davies’ picture to her 4,870 followers, saying: “Here’s Karl McCartneyMP & ToryCllr discussing my selection to stand as a MP. & ppl q whey aren’t more women in politics.”
The row prompted a demand for an apology from Rosanne Kirk, who stood against Ms Rigby during the selection process in 2012.
She tweeted to cllr Davies: “We need more women in politics, but your photo tweet last night, proves what we have to deal with. Please apologise. Thank you.”
Cllr Davies, Lincolnshire County Council portfolio holder for Highways, has since apologised for his comments and taken down the picture from his Twitter page.
He tweeted to Ms Kirk: “Having reflected on this I think I was wrong to post that photo. AWS [All Women Shortlists] is sexist by glamour pics don’t help. Sorry if I upset you.”
Speaking yesterday, he said: “I never meant to cause individual concern or upset and for that I apologise.
“But it opens up a point of real sexism and discrimination and, dare I say it, a condescending attitude to the voters of Lincoln.”
But Ms Rigby, 31, reacted angrily and branded cllr Davies’ tweet as “pathetic” and “sexist.”
She fumed: “It is sad and entirely wrong that there appear to be, still, some sections of the Conservative Party that have these attitudes towards women and women working in politics.
“It’s sad they want to demean women so publicly and Twitter is a very public forum.
“Comparing the selection of a female MP to an underwear modelling competition is pretty pathetic and really speaks volumes about Karl McCartney and his colleagues’ attitudes towards women.
“I appreciate there is a debate but pictures of underwear competitions is not the way to have it.
“I think there are certainly some people who would prefer not to have them (AWS shortlists), quite a few people in the Labour Party would prefer not to have them.
“I happen to think they’re necessary to get more women into politics.
“I think they have been successful when they have been used and half of the Labour candidates that are standing in 2015 are women.
“Unfortunately the other parties don’t use them and I know that only one in five tory MPs are women, but David Cameron tried to introduce AWS into the Tory party in 2006 and got shouted down.
“No one has said I have only been selected because I am a woman other than Twitter conversations like this between Tories I think that most people in Lincoln, certainly most people in the Labour Party think that I am doing a decent job and want me to be elected.
“No-one has said to me that there was a man that could have done the job better, I am the candidate and I’m on the ballot paper in 2015.
“There are both men and women in all parties who want to see more women in parliament.
“Women are 50 per cent of the human race and the fact that we have so few female MPs is really a bit of a disgrace.
“It is right that women are represented in our national parliament and indeed on councils as well.
“I think it’s also worth thinking about the fact that there is evidence to show that gender balance produces better decisions.”
The row split opinion yesterday on Twitter with some users agreeing with Ms Rigby while others dismissed the spat as making a “mountain out of a mole hill.”
Sue Burke wrote: “I’m reading Emily Pankhurst’s story and the rubbish they had to deal with to get women the vote.
“Sorry to hear that women are still being disrespected by some politicians.”
But some users defended Mr Davies. Nigel Sparky wrote: “A tongue in cheek tweet, which obviously refers to what he and many others I would think, perceive to be the good looks of the lady in question. He has apologised, so I think it should be left there.
“Mountain and mole hill springs to mind for me, or would it be labour wanting to jump on it, to try and score some political points. Hmmmmm perish the thought.”