What might Trollope have made of the row which is currently brewing in the Welsh constituency of Cynon Valley? The sitting Labour MP Ann Clwyd is to retire at the General Election and the Labour party is imposing on the local constituency party a requirement for an all women shortlist for her replacement. The constituency party is of the view that it should select the best candidate irrespective of gender.
In Trollope’s time there were, of course, no women MPs. Women did not have the vote. However, that is not to say that they were politically inactive. As can be seen in Phineas Finn, Laura Standish (later Laura Kennedy after her marriage to the MP Robert Kennedy) took an active interest in politics and was an active player behind the scenes. Lady Glencora was similarly active in politics, interfering in the Silverbridge by-election on behalf of the scheming Ferdinand Lopez much to the chagrin of her husband in The Prime Minister.
In the latter novel, Trollope depicted uncritically the type of nepotism and cronyism that was prevalent in the politics of his time. He might therefore have seen nothing untoward in a centrally controlled process. In this way, as in so many others, he was perhaps conservative in spite of his ostensibly Liberal political outlook.
(The Jupiter would like it noted that in the interests of avoiding any suggestion of political bias, it has worked very hard to get all three traditional main parties into this post.)