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Division and acrimony should be avoided at all costs, of course, absolutely so, even if that meant that the British public would still end up saddled with traitors among their so-called representatives in the EU Parliament.

A sifting commitee made up of officers within the region to select 8-12 candidates (including current serving MEPs) to go forward to meeting of members to rank them.

I don't see why is should be divisive and acrimonious if MEP's have kept to their word, and represented the views of the people who elected them.

The person chairing the selecting meeting should ensure that questioners remain polite, even to people they disagree with profoundly. Heckling, or barracking, should be stamped on, and offenders thrown out of the meeting.

Other than that, it is essential that members be given the right to rank candidates (including sitting MEPs) anywhere they see fit on the ballot. If sitting MEPs are simply guaranteed high places on the ballot, then the same old gang will simply refuse to leave the EPP in 2009, in the same way they did this year.

MEPs should be judged principally on their track record and how they have served their constituents in previous terms. In London John Bowis, Charles Tannock and Syed Kamall would all score highly there even though they do not all have the same views on the same issues. I am very happy with the performance of all three of them.

I don't think that it has to be divisive and acrimonious. There are plenty of Europhile Tories who are quite pleased with Beazley, so he may well get reselected - that's fine if that is what they want. This time round however, for the first time, it is likely that the grass-roots are going to be more informed than ever while making their choices.

I have heard of rumours regarding the rights of incumbents and guarantees of their security. I couldn't think of anything worse to make the MEPs who have already gone native than (undemocratically) guaranteeing them a job thus allowing them to get even further out of step with grassroots.

A committee at regional level can make up a shortlist of candidates as large as the number of seats available for that region.
All sitting MEPs who wish to stand will be directly included in the shortlist and the committee will fill the other places.
Then a postal ballot of all members will rank the candidates.

I would agree with every word you have written Sean. I do suspect that it will be difficult to avoid some acrimony but it is essential that we have a clear and unequivocal message put forward by candidates who share the views of our members otherwise we will be outflanked by UKIP again.

As someone with a great deal of candidate selection experience, I agree with the posters above - there must be firm Chairing, and sitting MEPs must be interviewed. If they have a record to be proud of, they have nothing to fear. We have to get rid of the idea that any 'sitting' politician has the right to a seat for life (unless unseated at the polls).

And since we have this pernicious list system wished on us, let us (the party activists/officers) indeed have the right to 're-rank'.

Firstly it is vital that Conservative Party members are given the opportunity to rank MEPs and that includes sitting ones. Good MEPs should have nothing to fear from this process.

Secondly it is vital that all Conservative Party members are circulated with a biography, key quotes and voting record of all sitting MEPs in their region. That way we will be able to know exactly what they got up to over the last four years and they won't be able to get away with the usual trick of sounding all Eurosecptic at the selection and then behaving like rabid Europhiles once they are elected.

Above all the selection process must be honest, open and democratic.

I guess the obvious solution would be to bypass our MEPs, hold our noses, and vote UKIP in the next EP elections.

That would send Maude a message he would find hard to ignore.

Another thought which occurs to me is that a very close eye will need to be kept on membership lists - especially during the few months leading up to the ballot. We are naive if we believe that there will be no attempts made to "pack" meetings or to "bus people in"!!

I agree with Sean and Malcolm.

What message would a policy to protect Europhiles from reselection send to the electorate?

How much capital would UKIP gain?

Why would we want to do that Waldemar? I am in the invidious position in having one MEP who I think is terrific (Van Ordern) and one who isn't (Beazely). I would hope that if we get back into power this awful list system will be swiftly abandoned.

Woud get very expensive for them Sally at £25 a time.

I know, Andrew - but some of them might think it was a price worth paying!

I agree with you about the list system, Malcolm! I think we can all agree that there is nothing to recommend it.

"The person chairing the selecting meeting should ensure that questioners remain polite, even to people they disagree with profoundly. Heckling, or barracking, should be stamped on, and offenders thrown out of the meeting."

This is an excellent point, and as a candidate I applaud it. Francis Maude is right to call for a lack of division and acrimony.

I believe there should be recognition that while we are a broad church, there is a near universal consensus on European matters. We support George Osborne's rejection of the Euro at the party conference, and leaving the EPP. It will avoid acrimony if MEPs are selected who can wholeheartedly support our leadership and these goals.

We are a Eurorealist party and our representatives in Europe should reflect this shared stance. In the East Midlands we are fortunate to have two very fine Conservative MEPs in Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton-Harris. Since Chris will be the next MP for Daventry, I would hope his successor would be cut from the same cloth.

Louise, there is no consensus in the Conservative Party on European matters. Do you really understand the party to which you belong and whose whip you hope to take in Parliament?

Some, like Philip Davies, Douglas Carswell, (and me), believe Britain should govern itself and trade freely with the EU and with the rest of the world. We do not believe in being in the EU and governed by the EU.

Others, like David Cameron, William Hague and Francis Maude, do believe that Britain should remain in, and thus be governed by, the EU. There is a total split and no consenus.

There is no such thing as being "in the EU" but not "governed by the EU" as many in the hierarchy would like to make you believe.

"How do we avoid these selection processes from becoming divisive and acrimonious?"

Tim, you clearly don't understand British management-speak. This is code for "How do we get the candidates wanted by the top people without the workers objecting too loudly at being shafted?"

If I were you, I would watch the selection mechanism extra-closely from now on.

The only elections at which UKIP can make an impact are the Euro elections. If we are mad enough to reselect uber-Europhiles like Beazley then it will play straight into the hands of Farage who, as his interview with Iain Dale demonstrated, is determined to peel off disillusioned Eurosceptic Tories. Why on earth should loyal Conservatives be expected to vote for people who work tirelessly to advance a federalist agenda while wearing a blue rosette?

Having said that, Francis Maude should make it clear that any personal abuse or other unseemly behaviour by activists during the selection process will result in immediate expulsion. Feelings on matters European run very high in our Party (for good reasons) but me must conduct ourselves like a government in waiting.

"JT", there are differing degrees of Eurorealism, but my point is that Federalism is an idea that is now wholly outside mainstream Conservative tradition. It has had some high-profile supporters in the party, and still does, yet a rejection of federalism and the single currency is supported by over 99% of party members. I believe our MEPs should sign up to this broad consensus.

Ronald Reagan once said 'never speak ill of a fellow Conservative'. Rather than naming MEPs for whom I personally could not vote, and there are several, I prefer to say that I believe that somebody like Chris Heaton-Harris has been an outstanding MEP and we should ensure we have a few more just like him. I was proud to have the endorsement of Daniel Hannan MEP on my cv as a Parliamentary candidate, and my own views on Europe can be found in the interviews section of this blog.

Last post as I am campaigning in the constituency today!

I think Francis should set up, and hype, a secretive List of the best and brighest possible Euro candidates. He should then fiddle with the selection procedures until CCHQ gets the PC box ticking duds & toadies it wants selected, selected. And then he should lounge back, miss a few meetings here, be late for a few others there, panic needlessly at read-today, forgotten-tomorrow headlines and, oh, wait.

But Louise, it makes not the blindest bit of difference if you think that European federalism is wrong for Britain, but do not use the power that you have to change the position in fact.

Even David Cameron has said on an epolitix interview that he thinks it best when laws are made by the British Parliament and not in Brussels.

But if he gets into power and if he continues to acquiesce in Britain's continued membership of the EU which has already destroyed so much of democracy in Britain, then Mr. Cameron's words are simply cynical and meaningless.

It does seem to me that there are "degrees" of "Federalism" as defined by people here and in the wider Party. I think a definition has somehow got to be agreed upon. For example I would rather stick pins in my eyes than allow myself to be described as a "federalist" - yet I happen to think the "Better Off Out" people are myopic in the extreme (and if we debate that last point here we will veer off thread as it is simply about the selection process and what views we should give to Maude). That is why I think it is so important that the work record of sitting MEPs is strongly taken into account and not simply their doctrinal views.

When we are next in government we should abandon the regional process and go back to individual wards. The selected candidate would have gone through a local process similar to what a PCC endures. This may mean fewer conservative MEP's but at least constituents will know who their MEP is.
Until this can happen the selection process should remain as it currently is. With strong chairmen at meeetings there is no reason for them to be divisive or acrimonious.

Francis it should be a 2 stage process.

Please start with adsking yourseld whether you have the trust of the Members to handle this in the right way? Where are the signs of disciplining the MEPs that voted against party policy, albeit they followed Kirkhope's whip? Why is Kirkhope still in place?

Assuming you are capable of earning back the trust then my recommendations are...

First (as others have said) have a sifting of the present MEPs voting record against the policies of the party and attendance. (I said policies and not the EPP whip.) The more times they voted for further European jurisdiction or for the Euro, then they should move further down the list. More than 2 examples of voting against the parties policy and they should be removed off the list altogether.

The 2nd factor should be their attendance record, set a minimum and anyone under that should also be removed.

Then after the sifting process set out our party principles for Europe and require every MEP and candidate, to sign up.

Through this process you will remove most of the problem MEPs.

Then put the MEPs left forward along with others with a stamp of your/William's approval.

Then let the Members decide in each area, if you have done your job right they will re-adopt the MEPs high enough on the lists. A rebellion will only happen if enough Members do not believe you have done the right thing.

An MEP is different to an MP. They are just party representatives. They have no personal vote, so if any defect to LDs, then good riddance. Too many act that way already.

The good thing about the existing system is that (unlike MPs) MEP candidates do have to submit themselves for reselection. If memory serves, last time around they were guaranteed a place at the final ranking meeting (unless they chose to enter the process at an earlier stage). This does not mean that they were guaranteed a high place on the final list - though this was usually what seemed to happen in practice. The main drawback was the relatively small number of members who attended any of the regional ranking meetings in order to vote.

There clearly needs to be some kind of initial CV 'sift' since a region might typically expect to receive at least 60 - 70 initial applications. In the past, this has been done by a group of senior activists in the region concerned (Association chairmen etc.). This whittled down the applicants to around 20, who were then asked to attend an interview (by the same panel). The number selected to attend the series of ranking meetings would then be around n+2 (where n is the number of parliamentary seats available in the particular region). This allows for 'reserves' to be selected in case anyone higher up the list subsequently drops out.

In practical terms, it's hard to see how the initial stage(s) could be improved upon. I would, however, suggest that sitting MEPs who wish to be re-selected are only 'passported' through to the 2nd stage of the process (i.e. last 20 or so) and have to pass that stage on their merits.

The final round of meetings should be retained, but only as a 'hustings', with ranking being carried out by postal ballot and over the internet so as to ensure greater participation. This would be a similar model to that used for the leadership election.

In addition, the final set of candidates for a region could be asked to respond to a standard set of questions about their views on various European matters (in a limited number of words!). Their responses could then be posted on a web site and (possibly) posted out with the ballot papers. I do not underestimate the challenge of coming up with an agreed list of questions!

I do have some other ideas about how individual Associations could be given more involvement in the 2nd-stage selection process - but this post is quite long enough already!

No doubt, for us anoraks, CH will have a key role to play in analysing potential candidates' published views (and voting records!) on pertinent subjects - though it might have to 'regionalise' for the purpose.

"The final round of meetings should be retained, but only as a 'hustings', with ranking being carried out by postal ballot and over the internet so as to ensure greater participation. This would be a similar model to that used for the leadership election."

NOT the internet - unless there are stringent checks in place to prevent abuse! Can you imagine the impersonation, "trolling" etc. which might go on?!! We know only too well what happens here sometimes (until the Editor cracked down on it of course! :-))

Anyone in the region should be allowed to put themselves forwards to be a candidate, then members in the area rank them. With the ranking system, it doesn't really matter how many potential candidates there are. Those not selected we will have to trust to accept the outcome with honour. If they can't, then they obviously weren't the right choice anyway.

Sally, the myopia is on the part of those who refuse to recognise that right back to the Treaty of Rome the EEC/EC/EU has been founded on the principle of "ever closer union", inevitably leading to some kind of pan-European state. In fact even before that, the 1950 Schuman Declaration stated that the European Coal and Steel Community was to be "a first step in the federation of Europe", and that "this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation". But whether it turned out to be a federal state, or a unitary state, is of secondary importance - either way it would mean the extinction of our country, the United Kingdom, as a sovereign independent state.


Any Briton who supports that project, overtly or covertly, should not be in any Parliament. They should be in prison - which is where Maude, and Major, and Heseltine, and other Tory luminaries, plus most of the British MEPs, belong.

As you obviously thought the Great Sir Winston Churchill should have been, Denis?

Sally, he did not envisage that we would be part of any United States of Europe.

If you want to avoid it being divisive it's straightforward, make it clear from the outset EXACTLY what the process will be and get the party to sign up to it.

Despite being someone who regularly trudges the streets and who has been involved locally and centrally as well as supporting the party financially for over 20 years now, I still have no idea what goes on at 'selection weekends' or what qualifies someone to be on the A-list (I even mailed CCHQ and asked for details and never got any reply). That's enough to make me wonder why I bother (although I bother less and less these days because of exactly this sort of behaviour).

It would never be tolerated in a public company, it's beyond me why the membership tolerate it in the Conservative Party.

"We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed. And should European Statesman address us in the words which were used of old - 'Shall I speak for thee to the King or the Lord of the Host?' we should reply with the words of the Shunamite woman: "'Nay sir, for we dwell among our own people.'"

"We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed."

In other words "In Europe but Not Run by Europe".

I think the above exchange proves exactly why the Conservative Party must remain a "broad church" at these selections!

First, I should declare an interest in that I will be putting my name forward for selection.

To answer Francis’s question, I think the greatest danger of the process “becoming divisive and acrimonious” would be if the Party membership felt that they were not being adequately consulted or if they had no say over the reselection of sitting members.

While many in the Party hold strong views on Europe and although these views cover a very wide spectrum, I am sure that members will engage in that consultation in a measured and constructive way. Indeed, there is a lesson here from the Leadership Election where, once we trusted members to have their say, the Party benefited from the debate that ensued and emerged stronger from the process.

Given that we're saddled with the wretched list system, why don't we just allow any member in any euro-seat at all to put their name forward, and then invite 100% of the relevant membership in that area to STV-vote them, and pick the top as the candidates?

I'm very sorry [tr: not sorry at all] for what that will mean for those ghastly Jacksonites, since I predict it means an end to their publicly funded career of sneering at everything the party does while nominally taking a Conservative whip, but then - every cloud has a silver lining - even the list system of PR.

Denis Cooper @ 14:24 - Some people think otherwise. See http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=61

We are all capable of being polite.

The issue is surely what do we intend that Conservative MEPs should do once elected? Then we might know whom to select in the first place.

We all know the European Parliament has no power. The only point of being there is to have a platform from which to blast opinions home and perhaps elsewhere as well.

What opinions do we want MEPs to blast? Do we agree with Roger Helmer for example: he uses his platform to tell the British people exactly what the European Union is all about – a form of Soviet Union. So do one or two other notable Conservative MEPs.

Most go to the Parliament, go through the rituals, take the money and ….? Some Conservative MEPs actually use their position to tell the British people that the EU is good for us.

So what does Mr Cameron want his MEPs to do? That is the question.

Sally, you shouldn't conflate "Europe" with "the European Union". A geographer would say that we have no choice but to be in "Europe" - we have been for a very long time, and I don't think anyone in the Better Off Out campaign is suggesting that we should tow the British Isles out into the Atlantic. We do have a choice whether to be in the political organisation called "the European Union". Being in Europe, geographically, does not - can not - mean being run by Europe, but being in the European Union does mean being run by the European Union. I'm afraid it's quite typical of Hague that he should come up with an essentially meaningless and deliberately deceitful formulation like "in Europe, but not run by Europe".

If ever there was a case for a fully open, regional, primary then this is it.

Whilst the idea of any member being allowed to put their name forward (which, in fact, they are at present), with no form of pre-selection, seems quite attractive, I have my doubts about how many members would actually vote when faced with a yard-long ballot paper containing, say, 100 (mostly unknown)candidates whom they are then expected to rank!

Would a true STV system actually require all 100 to be ranked, irrespective of the number of seats? (I suspect it would.) Perhaps any passing psephologist could advise.

The hustings would be a bit of a marathon too ...

But, Sally, the reference you cite tends to support what I said. In fact I nearly posted that extract from his memorandum to the Cabinet in 1951 - "our attitude towards further economic developments on Schuman lines resembles that which we adopt about the European army. We help, we dedicate, we play a part, but we are not merged and do not forfeit our insular or Commonwealth character" - which I've come across previously. So, no, Churchill would not have been eligible for a long spell in the Tower of London, unlike Maude, Major, Heseltine et al.

I am sure his descendants will be most relieved to hear that, Denis!

An A-List and Open Primaries

Anyway... enough of these amusing diversions about Sir Winston! One point which occurs to me is that if our MEPs are forced to go through the rigours of what is, in effect, an open primary then surely the same system must operate when selecting our candidates for other elections - the next General Election for example, not to mention the London Mayorals and the GLA elections not to mention the elections to the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies - one rule for all, surely!?

As someone who was on the SE England list last time, it was a bit frustrating to see a two tier selection system which guaranteed some very longstanding MEPs 'electable' positions on the list, when their views were clearly out of kilter with many [if not most] members. My pitch was simple as, it would be today. The job of a Conservative MEP is, as it should be at all levels from Parish Council up, to ensure the election of a Conservative Prime Minister. That is the only way we have any hope of a real difference in Europe.
The selection mechanism should be open; respectful and challenging of the existing team and keen to promote new talent. Open primaries should do it.
It would also be a good idea if candidates are not forced, against their will and upon threat of being dropped, to endorse the nonsense of the EPP-ED arrangements.

"We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed."

In other words "In Europe but Not Run by Europe".

Posted by: Sally Roberts | November 16, 2006 at 14:34"

We do not need MEP's. All we need is a rubber stamp. That is why there is talk of limiting parliamentary speeches to 3 minutes (and quite right too. The less said in Parliament the better - Brussels knows best). We won't be withdrawing from the authoritarian EU so why pretend we need MEP's merely to form alliances that are going nowhere - unless it is the modern version of "kicking people upstairs?"

"An A-list and Open Primaries" would be fraught with practical problems.

Unlike Westminster selections, there are, in effect, only a handful of 'seats' (i.e. regions) to apply for. Each region is large and the vast majority of applicants tend to be based in their local region. Thus, the distinction between an A-list candidate and a "good local candidate" would be pretty well meaningless.

At Westminster constituency level, the attendance at an Open Primary might (at a push) reach 1% of the voting population. At any rate, it's not 'vanishingly small'. In a Euro region, you'd need a travelling circus of primary meetings which would need to attract a total of, say, 70,000 voters to reach a similar (1%) proportion! I can't quite see that happening. A postal ballot of all members in the region really does seem the only option for the final selection stage.

Of course, if the Party really is wedded to Open Primaries, it could extend a postal vote to EVERYONE on the Electoral Register ...

I agree with Sean and Malcolm and particularly sjm
"We have to get rid of the idea that any 'sitting' politician has the right to a seat for life "

Why don't we create a secret list that everybody knows about and then force the membership to select from it without telling them the rules, which of course we will make up as we go along to suit ourselves and our PC objectives. That way we could place all the people from another secret list who didn't get selected to become an PPC.

For the information of Sally Roberts,I believe that this is the quote from Winston Churchill that we are looking for:

This is the definitive quote- - -
"Sir Winston Churchill 1953

We are with Europe, but not of it, we are linked, but not comprised we
associated, but not absorbed, and should a European statesman address
us and
say 'shall we speak for thee'? we should reply 'nay sir for we dwell
our own people"

"Just before Party Conference I wrote an open letter to Conservative Chairman Francis Maude about the right of party members to rank Tory candidates for the next European Elections. Francis replied yesterday with a request for your views."

A month and a half, and they say he's always late!

"We are a Eurorealist party and our representatives in Europe should reflect this shared stance. In the East Midlands we are fortunate to have two very fine Conservative MEPs in Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton-Harris." LB 13:02

But wasn't Roger in a "spot of bother" with the party's leadership over his differing view of "matters European", the Conservative Whip was restored in September 2006 having been withdrawn in May 2005, as I recall. ;)

The length of this thread is your explanation

I would suggest that anyone on the Candidates' List is allowed to put themselves forward for a particular region. These applicants are screened by a selected panel of Party activists and officials from the region (whose make-up and decision-making process is transparent and open to scrutiny) in order to reduce the number of candidates to a manageable one, perhaps 20. These people are interviewed by the initial selecting panel, who will reduce the number to, say 10 people, and these 10 or so people will attend hustings to determine their place on the final list. Voting can either take place on the night or by way of a postal ballot of all members in the region(whichever Party members prefer). Existing MEPs would automatically progress to the final 10 stage, but their ranking thereafter would be determined by their performance, as applies to anyone else. It is not important for everyone on this final list to hold the same views on Europe, but if candidates' views are in direct contradiction to those widely held in the Party then their ranking on the list is unlikely to be high anyway.

If MEPs end up in unelectable positions in the list because of "grassroots anger", then that is right and proper. That's democracy guys - if you don't represent the views of the people you are elected to represent, then you shouldn't be elected.

Matthew Williams' views at 17:02 are pretty close to mine.

MEPs must be accountable to someone. In Westminster, MPs are accountable to the local electorate, which generally knows their stances and views. In the EP, constituencies are so vast that the electorate has little to no knowledge of who the local MEPs even are, let alone what they do. That's why we need strong levels of accountability to the selectorate.

If the Party brings in a system of incumbency, why will MEPs bother working at all? After all, their bosses would be at arms length.

There are so many of our MEPs who work exceptionally hard and they do make an impact. For example, Martin Callanan and Neil Parish managed to save the mercury barometer this week, Malcolm Harbour worked his backside off on legislation intended to open the services market and Syed Kamall is starting to turn the debate on the ridiculous proposed Television Without Frontiers law.

We need to hear from our MEPs more often, so can I suggest you have an MEP section on this blog, which will follow legislation and the Conservative position on it. Some MEPs publish a plenary briefing on their websites, which sets out how we voted on every law - eg http://www.rogerhelmer.com/highlights34.asp. Holding our politicians to account requires us to be well-informed about them and I just don't think many of our members are. There are a number of sound genuine arguments for our stance on the EU but many of our members use the kind of rhetoric that would turn voters off on the doorstep. Let's stop with the 'traitors' and the 'Soviet Union' language and articulate a Eurosceptic message that will resonate with the voters.

The system used the last couple of times at least seemed to work perfectly satisfactorily to me (as one who participated in both final party meetings which chose the running order of the 10 candidates). There is no reason why it should cause acrimony - sure, some acrimony might be reflected if they feel they have been let down by particular sitting MEPs but, as others have said, that's democracy.

As someone said above, in London both John Bowis, fairly Europhile, and others such as Theresa Villiers, fairly Eurosceptic, were selected for high-up positions, with quite a few I am sure voting for both of them. Interestingly Theresa Villiers first stormed to prominence when such a meeting voted her top of the London list, as a virtual unknown, in 1999 (?). She is now in the Shadow Cabinet so the talent spotting capacity of such party meetings cannot have been wholly deficient.

Where there were more extreme Europhiles, such as wherever John Stevens was an MEP (Oxfordshire etc?), they got dropped down the list. He huffed off, stood against the party, and has sunk without trace into the Lib Dems. Never really did us any harm.

One issue is whether the final selection should be done only by those choosing to attend a meeting, or by postal ballot. I am strongly in favour of the former (i.e. present) system. It is much less susceptable to people promoting "slates" and means that people vote on the quality of the candidate, influenced by their stated views but not purely on where they are on the spectrum.

Message to Maude: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

>>Ronald Reagan once said 'never speak ill of a fellow Conservative'<<

The Eurofanatics aren't Conservative. They are renegades who have manipulated our party to serve their own careers and vile opinions.

I don't care how acrimonious the row. We need to get rid of the whole lot of them.

"if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
How did we end up with Christopher Beazley if it ain't broke?

Had you noticed that our best MEPs are the ones who are protecting us from EU legislation?

What a damning indictment of the whole bloody set-up.

My Australian bias is coming out, but politics is an unbending, unforgiving exercise. You must have the numbers. If you don't have the numbers, it doesn't matter one jot how wonderful or how noble your ideas are, or how "core" your vote is. If you don't have the numbers you don't matter.

If a politician can't protect their own numbers in the selection process, not only are they unlikely to be there, they are also doing their party harm by being there. How are they going to get the numbers for their party if they can't even get the numbers for themselves?

Politicians' selections should only be good as the numbers they have to back them. If Europhile MEPs think they can't to do their own numbers to stay in, then they should recognise the game is up, before they are thrown out. Tough.

That last spiel is right up there with Donald Rumsfeld's "There are facts we know and fact we don't know" waffle.

As you are Australian it's plain you know nothing about Tory selection criteria, at any rate as it was before Cameron introduced "Positive Discrimination"

It's got all to do with where you went to school, whether you have a nice wife, how much money you appear to have (appearances can be deceptive) and whether the Chairman and the old biddies think your face fits.

I know. I've seen it happen.

Can I add my agreement to Sean, malcolm & sjm. Also to Alexander Drake.

This isn't an argument about whether we should be in/out/part time members of EU but about creating a degree of accountability in a Party List system. I dislike the concept of a list - it takes away personal responsibility for an elected representative's actions giving it to The Party.

Giving party members the right to judge and rank their candidates (they are OUR candidates not the leadership's) means as Alexander says that they have to protect their numbers - that means we judge their performance at least once every 5 years.

Not as good a form of democratic accountability as voters in real constituencies provide but at least some accountability. So thety might look at proposals and think a bit more.

Much as I'm a fervent Eurosceptic I really don't advocate either the tone or the sentiments of people like Jamie Olivers sausage. Isn't it possible to have a civilised debate within the party?
The eurosceptics have a very good case and we now should be able to win most debates within the Conservative party. The electorate will I think find our case more compelling if we put it calmly and rationanally. Phillip Hollobone MP or Roger Helmer are two who are outstanding at this.

It is essential that party members are given the opportunity to vote on candidates with a view to ranking them on the list. Any attempt to prevent this would be totally corrupt notwithstanding it would fit in with the ethics of the EU.

I attended the hustings in the East Midlands when Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton Harris were orginally selected. We were very lucky because having lost all our euro MPs in 1994 we were able to select 2 MEPS who were loyal to this country rather than the EU ( the other was a disaster who defected). Now I am in the East of England and I have three euro MP, who as reported on Conservative home could not even vote against the euro. As for Beazley, with his letter of loyalty to the EPP last December, his name on the ballot paper is a incitement to vote UKIP.

If we keep mincing around like one or two people on here saying we are fervent Eurosceptics yet can still be nice to Eurofanatics and give them a sporting chance we will deservedly be trounced.

The Conservative Party is a patriotic party or it is nothing, and that means showing the door to anti-British individuals who want this country to be ruled from Brussels.

Frankly, Sally Roberts's blatant distortions of the views of our great true Conservative leader Winston Churchill make me very angry.

"How did we end up with Christopher Beazley if it ain't broke?"

We used a different system in Eastern Area to that used in London. Not only were all four sitting MEPs guaranteed a place on the List, they were guaranteed a place in the top four spots on the list - although we could rank them 1 to 4.

Christopher Beazley was ranked fourth, and would have been knocked out, had the third placed candidate, Bashir Khanbai, not disgraced himself.

That's interesting, Sean. I hadn't appreciated that there was no common selection mechanism across the regions. My earlier posts on this thread were based on my experience of the West Midlands procedure last time around which, on the whole, seemed to work reasonably well.

IIRC, the 3 sitting MEPs who weren't standing down were automatically eligible for the final selection meetings. (Although I think one of them went through the previous, interview stage at his own request.) They weren't guaranteed any particular position on the final list, though in fact they were voted into the top three places.

Andrew Griffiths (recently selected as PPC for Burton on Trent) came fourth. Unfortunately, because the number of seats in the West Mids had been reduced by one (and also because of UKIP's strong showing) he wasn't elected.

One way of avoiding division and acrimony, both now and in the future, would be to require every prospective candidate to sign a declaration that they support our withdrawal from the EPP-ED in 2009. Such a public commitment might force the Eurofanatics to recognise that they have no future in the party.

JohnC @ 1137 makes a good point. The most acrimonious & divisive outcome will come not with selections but if the Party fails to deliver the EPP withdrawal pledge in 2009 - the most likely date of the next general election, and a moment at which it is imperative that the Party is seen to be united and capable of delivering its promises. We cannot afford to have any MEP candidates who are not totally behind this pledge, or less than 100% committed to making it happen and to building new alliances under the MER.

Beyond that, the more open, transparent & fair the process, the easier it will be to handle the inevitable disappointment that some candidates (including current MEPs) will feel. Some acrimony and division might be unavoidable - but it will be much worse, and fester much longer, if there is an undemocratic and indefensible selection process in place.

My approach would be to have a regional selection committee (regional, area & association chairmen) to sift all applications down to a final 10-12. Then a closed primary (ie all those there to register themselves as Conservative supporters).

Existing MEPs should certainly be entitled to an interview in front of the regional panel, but should thereafter be in the same position as other candidates. They have a record to stand on & if they have lost the confidence of the regional leadership to the extent that they cannot even convince them they should be allowed into the final round, that's a record that speaks for itself.

A surprising advantage of the List system is that it does mean that MEPs can be held to account on their parliamentary record every 5 years in a way that MPs are not. In that way, but no other, it brings a measure of accountability.

In the East Midlands our pleasurable challenge will be to find suitable candidates to join Roger Helmer, and to follow the fine example of Chris Heaton-Harris (& Pauline Latham who would now be an MEP but for the coverage given to the waste of space that is Kilroy Silk). Other regions may have decisions to make which, whatever they decide, will lead to a measure of acrimony & division.

"In Europe but Not Run by Europe"

This phrase exactly sums up the nonsense that is the Conservative Party's position on the EU.

That last spiel is right up there with Donald Rumsfeld's "There are facts we know and fact we don't know" waffle.

Sorry to divert the thread, but Rumsfeld's 'waffle' was actually perfect sense. It has been misrepresented as nonsense by a media used to being fed simple soundbites that don't require any thought.

At the risk of repeating myself, I think primaries (whether 'open' or 'closed') that rely on the physical presence of a voter at a meeting with the candidates are a non-starter for selecting European Parliament candidates. It would just be impossible, given the size of the constituencies, to arrange sufficient events to give more than a tiny proportion of the electorate the opportunity to attend. Last time, I had to travel around 40 miles to the selection meeting - so it really was only the 'die-hards' who bothered.

Certainly, we should retain such meetings so that anyone who wants to can go to see and hear the candidates 'in the flesh', but the franchise must surely be extended on a wider basis, via postal voting.

BTW, Mike, I entirely agree with you about Rumsfeld's so-called 'waffle'. That particular example makes perfect sense to anybody who takes the trouble to read it properly.

As MEPs we operate in deep cover. It doesn't mean we are inactive. This from a Labour supporter in Leeds today about my constituent on death row in Pakistan:

"For all you have done to help Mirza Hussain: thank you.

Speaking as a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, I doubt 'our lot' would have made the contribution you did.

This is representation.

xxxxx xxxxxxx,

Thank you Edward. That is, indeed, a powerful testimony to the great work of an MEP.

All we are asking for - as grassroots Tories - is the opportunity to hear you make the case for your continued high position on the party list with illustrations like that - and to weigh that case against the promise of other candidates.

There should be nothing automatic about readoption.

I do hope that should you be readopted Mr Mcmillan-Scott you will not make the sort of remarks you made about David Cameron during the discussions over the EPP which were extremely unhelpful to the party and I suspect wildly at odds with the views of most Conservatives in your constituency.

What did he say Malcolm?

I think we can all agree on the excellent suggestion that all MEP candidates sign a binding committment to pull out of the EPP.

We can expect nothing less from these people who depend upon us for their salaries, free flights and other perks.

Forming a new grouping is a massive challenge for which changes are required. Ensuring candidates sign a binding commitment to pull out is a start, but we also need new leadership and other MEPs who can demonstrate unity and commitment to an EU reform agenda. That has to be part of the selection process. Frankly, no grouping will form if genuine leadership isn't shown. The Parliamentary party should stop worrying about the media and get some backbone.

Edward McMillan-Scott declared David Camerons' decision to leave the EPP as 'ideolgical nonsense'inspired by 'a tiny minority who wish to leave the EU'.
Even if that were true, (I don't think it is), it is absolutely no way for an MEP to speak about his party leader who had so recently been elected by an overwhelming vote of the party members in public.

If party members see their right to choose their representatives maintained as previously, they will remain polite and not become acrimonious any more than they have in the past. If however, they are told that currently serving MEP's have an automatic right to reselection, as is being proposed (on the quiet and here we see Maude testing the water) party members will rightly become acrimonious.

It's down to Maude to ensure that the right of Party members to select their representatives is maintained - pure and simple. If democracy is systematically removed from the Conservative Party, why should party members behave in a way which pleases the party politburo? Don't provoke, is my advice to Francis Maude. Keep the system as it is, or reap the whirlwind.

I have just re-read Francis's letter to Tim. He says:

"I suspect that this is not really to do with the exact details of the process. I guess it’s more about how we all behave, and we can all therefore simply decide for ourselves that we will take shared responsibility, to coin a phrase, for making this a process that enhances rather than damages our Party’s reputation."

Up to a point Lord Copper!

But not if you mean: "let's not worry too much about the selection process, let's all just make sure we are nice to each other."

The credibility of the process is important, as last year's furore over the leadership election rules demonstrated.

If the process is on the lines I & others have outlined above: genuinely open and transparent & enabling MEPs & candidates to be scrutinised & judged fairly on their record, then all well & good. If, on the other hand, the selection is carved so that there is no genuine opportunity for grassroots accountability, then, believe me, it really will be ALL "to do with the exact details of the process."

Francis's share in the divvy-up of responsibility is to make sure he delivers a process which is transparent, accountable & democratic. If he does that, we can then do our bit.

To be absolutely specific: the procedure in the Eastern Area last time as described by Sean @1103 today is in no way an acceptable process.


I have some sympathy for Richard Weatherill's point about the travel involved for regional selections. That could be solved by having votes at a couple of hustings at different ends of the region, with votes to be counted at the end of the last hustings. I am very cautious about a postal vote for this type of selection.

How about video linking the big regional selection meeting to various counties, or is that a bit too far fetched

One wonders how many paid-up Conservatives will actually be taking part in these supposed exercises in democracy

One of the most interesting revelations in today's Times article on the forthcoming deselection of adulterer James Gray MP was the fact that there there are only 350 members in the previously solid Tory constituency of North Wiltshire.

It seems that our party is withering on the vine.

I agre with Sally Roberts that Francis Maude should watch the membership lists in the months before the elections. I have seen selection meetings "packed" before now. That is NOT democracy. It is a form of gerrymandering.

What we want is for the process of selection to be published in draft form early on so there is time for the views of party members to be heard.

I much prefer making people come to the meeting to vote as otherwise it is very difficult to see how they will vote in an informed way. The idea of having several meetings in the larger regions is a good one if getting there is a problem. It probably would not be necessary in London.

I also agree that any attempt to streamroll the existing MEPs back in will certainly cause the acrimony that the Party Chairman wishes to avoid. It is right and proper that they should get back before the members, i.e. automatically to the final stage which consists of about the same number of candidates as there are places, but whether they get to an electable position on the list should be up to the members. It may also be right for any candidate, inc existing MEPs, getting to that stage to be required to sign up to certain minimum requirements regarding party policy, i.e. the new grouping to be formed after the elections.

Is the Chairman definitely going to read this full thread when it is closed? The editor should send it to him to ensure that he does.

Even with several meetings in the larger regions, it's still going to be impossible to persuade more than a very small percentage of the local membership to turn out to see the candidates. (I would guess we might have, say, 30 - 40,000 members in the West Midlands.) It surely can't be beyond the wit of the Party to provide sufficient information to members about the candidates to let them make an informed decision via a postal or internet vote. (Whilst, of course, retaining a series of 'hustings' so that those who wish to can go to see and hear the candidates.)

In other respects, I agree with Londoner (and with Tim's original letter to FM) that the very most sitting MEPs should expect is a place in the final selection stage. Guaranteeing them a particular (high) place on the list is surely a complete non -starter. Apart from anything else, it would lead to a great deal of bickering about 'seniority' between the existng MEPs in each region as to who should be highest up the list. Such an approach would also deter talented newcomers who would know from the start that they were likely to be 'also-rans'.

I do hope you will publish any feedback on this thread from the Chairman, Tim.

Why on earth should the selection process be 'divisive and acrimonious'? So long as only those supporting Conservative principles and policies are seeking selection.

For example, the party is firmly opposed to the EU Constitution, whereas Chris Beazley is an enthusiastic supporter of that anti-democratic document, teaming up with Lib Dem EU-fanatic Andrew Duff to desperately try to revive it.

This is far more that a mere 'difference in stance' on a minor side issue. That, and the performance of others over the EPP question, was genuinely divisive and acrimonious.

I trust Mr Maude & Co will focus less on the idea of members being the 'cause' of a potentially messy selection process, and more on the problem of candidates who don't support the party's policies, and who openly criticise the party's leader in the national press, inappropriately and provocatively seeking re-selection.

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