‘Silly girl’: Tories in sexism row over ousted MP

The Conservative party are embroiled in a sexism row after one of David Cameron's senior female MPs was deselected.

The 59-year-old MP for Thirsk and Malton, Anne Mcintosh, was forced out after a senior local party figure described her as "bad-mannered" and a "silly girl".

Sources close to McIntosh say she was subjected to a campaign of "dirty tricks" orchestrated by the chairman of her local constituency party, Major Peter Steveney.

A leaked internal party inquiry found the local association broke rules by co-opting a large number of new members on to the ruling executive committee shortly before voting to deselect McIntosh.

The report criticised Major Steveney for writing to local members asking them to contact him to get "the whole story" on McIntosh before voting.

"The interpretation of these words is that Mr Steveney put himself in a position of being the sole and final arbiter of what was the correct version of events," it found.

"The tone of the language and the implication that he was somehow the guardian of the truth."

The report found the local constituency was "troubled by factions" and "out of control".

McIntosh has pledged to fight on as an independent MP, despite plans to replace her at the next election with old Etonian barrister Edward Legard.

She is the latest female MP to be forced out of the party. Five of the 49 Conservative MPS voted to parliament in 2010 will not be standing again next year.

Louise Mensch, Laura Sandys, Lorraine Fulbrook and Jessica Lee have already declared they will not be candidates.

Labour today accused the Conservative party of having a problem with women.

"What on earth is the Conservative Party’s problem with women? David Cameron has done nothing to stand up for one of his most senior women MPs," Labour MP Jon Ashworth said.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said it was now "raining men" in the Conservative party.

"What is your problem in this govenrment with women? It's like raining men in the Conservative party," she asked the education secretary Michael Gove on the Andrew Marr show.

Referring to Gove's decision to oust Sally Morgan from Ofsted she said: "There is a common denominator here. You've got Liz Forgan in the Arts Council, Suzi Leather, now Sally Morgan and my concern is that we're having a cull of senior authoritative women and they're all being replaced by men.

"So I think the public accounts committee should look into this because we don't have enough women in senior positions."

Gove denied that the party had a problem, telling Harman that: "We don't have a problem with women in the Conservative party, we made one prime minister and she did a fantastic job."