Given the dislike of the closed list system of electing our MEPs, as well as concerns expressed about the selection process, I hosted a fringe event at the Spring Forum in Cheltenham attended by 70 people on the theme: “Would a Conservative Government keep PR for the European Elections?”
The event was chaired by Peter Facey, director of Unlock Democracy, and also on the panel was former Conservative councillor Havard Hughes, campaigns director for the Electoral Reform Society, who gave a view on the electoral systems used in Europe and made the case for the single transferable voting system to be used in the UK.
The debate centred around how we find a better system than the current closed list system of PR for electing and the postal ballot for selecting our MEPs. As the founder of the EU’s £150m Democracy Initiative, which supports the development of democracy worldwide, I believe an incoming Conservative government can consider in particular how to untangle Labour’s 1997 gerrymandering of the system.
Dan Hannan told the Spring Forum that 85% of our laws are made in Brussels, so it matters who represents Britain there – and how they are chosen by their parties. Of course, the media will focus on the chance that the BNP will take a Euro-seat in the North West – a slap in the face for Jack Straw, who devised the system – but there are wider and deeper issues that we must face.