North Yorkshire’s police commissioner has criticised the way Conservatives in the county treat female politicians after failing to win automatic re-selection from the party ahead of next year’s election
Julia Mulligan will have to take part in an open selection if she wants to be readopted as the North Yorkshire Conservative candidate for the post she has held since 2012, after getting less than 50 per cent of the vote at a meeting in Tadcaster on Thursday night.
Mrs Mulligan, who has faced fierce local opposition over her bid to take over the governance of the county’s fire service and her decision to selling North Yorkshire Police’s former headquarters at Newby Wiske, declined to say whether she will continue to seek re-election.
But under party rules as the elected Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner she has the right to be on a shortlist of candidates, recruitment for which will start in May.
Speaking after the private meeting, Mrs Mulligan said she had made “a big difference in lots of different ways” over her seven years in the role and that her daughters were “taking up the feminist mantle”.
A number of her 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.
She 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’.”
Party members said the meeting had been attended by many district councillors who had opposed her fire service move.
Speaking later to The Yorkshire Post, Mrs Mulligan said she was “not surprised” at the result and added: “I know there was a group of people who were intent on doing what they did.”
She said: “The thing I always need to think about when I make a decision is ‘is this in the interests of the public’. Some of the decisions I have made have not been popular with certain groups of people. But that is not a reason why I should not make difficult decisions.
“I know some of the things I have done have not had support from some local political quarters but that doesn’t make them the wrong thing to do.”
When asked about her future plans she said: “I still have a lot of things I want to do and projects in train and I will get on and do them.
“In the longer term I clearly have to think about my family and the responsibilities I have to the police service and the fire and rescue service, the public and my team.”
Mrs Mulligan declined to comment further when asked whether this meant she would not now attempt to get re-elected in 2020.
Earlier in the day, Mrs Mulligan was warned she will face closer financial monitoring after setting the largest rise in the police element of council tax in recent years.
She said a decision by the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel to set a precept increase of just under ten per cent – of £22.95 in 2019/20 for a Band D property – gave the force a chance to “redress the balance” towards community policing.