Female Tory MPs have complained about being lined up as “arm candy” for David Cameron as he is photographed walking between events at this year’s Conservative party conference.
According to the Spectator, they are part of a rota of predominantly new MPs who have been told they must be ready to show that Cameron has an entourage that is not solely made up of men as he is recorded striding towards his next appointment.
Some MPs who have already completed their walk with him believe it is demeaning. “I didn’t get into parliament to be a bit of fucking arm candy,” one told the journalist Isabel Hardman.
Those who have been photographed with Cameron in Manchester this week include the new Eastbourne MP, Caroline Ansell, and Kelly Tolhurst, the MP for Rochester and Strood.
Nusrat Ghani, the MP for Wealden in East Sussex, has been photographed with Cameron on at least two occasions.Jane Ellison, the MP for Battersea in south London, who was elected in 2010, has also stepped out with the prime minister.
Not all new MPs object to the rota, however. One said: “I have been told that I might get to walk with the PM, and that picture would get a lot of coverage in the local press. It would not annoy me at all.”
Nicky Morgan, the women’s minister, later joked that her female Conservative colleagues would “flatten” any journalist who dared to call them “arm candy”.
The conference’s fringe meetings have been criticised for being dominated by all-male panels. At least 16 panels have been photographed with only white, male panellists, including events organised by the Countryside Alliance, the Campaign for Real Ale and ConservativeHome.
A spokeswoman for the Conservative party did not respond to a request for a comment.
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