« Ruth Kelly's ocean-going hypocrisy | Main | Lord Mackay on whether religious beliefs should bow to the rights of homosexuals »


Whew, what a fantastic resource! There are more sides to this issue than I thought.

Only the BBC and the Telegraph could possibly get so many responses from MEPs on such a tricky subject in such a short space of time.

Good work.

Geoffrey Van Ordens views most closely reflect my own. I hope we don't have to go through all the pain we went through over the member vote for leader before this is resolved.

It is vitally important that all Conservative Party members are given the chance of selecting their candidates. Hustings are important as it gives an opportunity to see, hear and question the candidates in person. There are however many people who cannot make a hustings. For that reason it is important that all members are offered a postal vote in the manner of the leadership election. Yes it will cost money, but if you ask for donations from the members to cover the costs, you will probably make a profit- as happened in the past

The importance of this issue cannot be understated. If members do not get the opportunity to de-rank/ de-list MEPs like Christopher Beazley we will never get an opportunity to build a parliamentary delegation that fights for reform of the EU and exit from the EPP. UKIP are the only gainers from a compromised list of Tory MEPs.

The EU regions are big, as Charles Tannock points out, and the practical result is that anything run on a regional basis tends to be less accessible to the average person than the same thing run on, say, a town basis. That's one reason why the EU likes regions, regional assemblies, regional constituencies, etc.

The absolutely key question is to what extent incumbency should be recognised in the selection process. I believe that incumbents should be entitled, as of right, to a place on the final short list to be submitted to membership meetings, but should not -- repeat not -- be guaranteed places at the top of the list.

Incumbency is already a powerful force. Existing MEPs have had five years or more to work in their regions, and if after that they can't face an open vote of members, and win, then they don't deserve re-selection.

Above all, Party members in the regions should be able to take a view on whether or not their MEPs have been reflecting mainstream Party views on EU questions, and re-select accordingly. I should be happy to face an open re-selection process, and I believe that all MEPs should be content with that too.

As Charles Tannock points out, there are two kinds of MEPs the ones who stand up for British interests in Brussels and Strasbourg and those who tour the constituency Associations whipping up xenophobia in the hope that it will push them up the List. I know how I'll be voting at the husting.

Charles Tannock rightly raises the issue of "bussing in" which is something to be guarded against - whatever happens, the result must be due to the votes of genuine local activists with an interest in the work record of their local MEPs. These hard-working MEPs must not be sacrificed on the altar of ideology!

Please just for once Justin justify your assertion and let us know which of our MEPs 'tour the constituency Associations whipping up xenophobia'.If there really are MEPs like this we should all be told.

Yes Justin, who are the MEP's whipping up xenophobia?

I don't have to name names - you know who they are.

You are an utter disgrace Justin for making allegations like that which we all know you can't substantiate.

Either name names Justin or take back the accusation. I know not of any MEP's who whip up Xenophobia.

There is no doubt that reselection for MEPs is unfair (compared with our Westminster colleagues who do not undergo anything remotely similar) and divisive (your opponents are your regional colleagues with whom you have to work before and after the completion of the reselection process. But because of the unsatisfactory list system, there has to be a method to choose the candidates and most importantly to rank them.

Any proposal is bound to be unsatisfactory. But two principles seem to me to be paramount. Firstly there has to be a recognition of incumbency. But secondly it is very difficult, once a franchise is given (in this case to all party members) to take it away.

So perhaps the best method would be that all party members should rank existing incumbents who should be guaranteed the top slots on the lists whilst there should be a separate ballot to rank the non-incumbents.

Like all compromises, this would not please everybody but it simply tries to be fair to both existing MEPs and to party members.

Jonathan Evans' response is up in Seats and Candidates now.

I don't think a guarentee for the existing incumbents to be at the top of the list is a very good idea at all. It effectively gives a job for life. Why are incumbents so scared of their members if they've been doing a good job? Have a proper primary and let incumbents be judged by their records.

Selection should be by random lottery as proposed for school selection

I note that it is the usual gang of xenophobic, viscerally anti-anything vaguely European, UKIP supporters who want to dump perfectly able Tory MEPs merely because they believe in working the system on behalf of their constituencies rather than shouting abuse from the sidelines. When will we, as a Party, utilise ALL the Parliamentary resources available to us and act as a coherent team instead of trying to knife our own elected representatives. Of course incumbency must count for something, just as it does for sitting MPs, otherwise you simply will not get decent candidates to offer themselves for election.

Really whohe? And who might 'this usual gang of xenophobic UKIP supporters' be ,or a you too making another unstubstantiated slur a la Justin Hinchcliffe?
Surely with the 'list system ' in place there is a huge difference between MEPs and Westminster MPs.With the former electors vote for a party with the latter they vote for an individual.

I believe that there should be a recognition of incumbency in that sitting MEPs who wish to stand again should (barring major misconduct) be guaranteed a place in the final ranking process. The franchise should be further extended so that all Party members are given a postal vote to make the final ranking.

I find David Sumberg's suggestion that sitting MEPs should be guaranteed "the top slots" simply unacceptable and I sincerely hope it will be rejected by Francis Maude. If a sitting MEP can't convince the members to vote him or her into a top slot on the basis of their record as an MEP then they should probably make way for fresh talent.

Will someone explain how two of the hardest-working MEPs prior to the last "selection" process - Roy Perry and the Earl of Stockton - were effectively deselected, not because of the huge amount of effort that they put in on behalf of their Constituents but because the Bruges Group and their fellow-travellers bussed people in to the "hustings" and as good as rigged the process. And why was Robert Atkins dropped down the list after his solid record of activity in his region? Don't tell me the last selection process was "fair and democratic" because, patently, it was not. That is why the next selection process MUST take account of the real work done - as opposed to articles in the "Daily Telegraph" - and the best people to make that judgement are the Constituency Chairmen and Regional Officers who know the FACTS about an MEP's contribution rather than listening to the ill-informed diatribes from violently anti-European and, probably, anti-Conservative subscribers to this column.

I was closely involved in the selection process last time around in the West Midlands where, as it happens, the three sitting MEPs were again ranked in the top three slots by the membership. There was certainly no evidence of any rigging at the hustings meeting that I attended.

That said, I'm not particulary keen on insisting that members have to attend such meetings in order to vote because, with the best will in the world, that limits participation to a very small fraction of the electorate. A postal vote would broaden the franchise and also eliminate any chance of selection meetings being 'rigged'.

I would be interested to know what actual evidence 'whohe' can adduce in support of his claims about rigging and people being bussed into meetings by the Bruges Group. Maybe it's just an "ill-informed diatribe"?

I think 'whohe' just makes it up as he/she goes along Richard.

Can't answer the questions and ignore the facts - what a bunch!

I agree with Roger Helmer MEP | January 09, 2007 at 13:12.

All sitting MEPs should put themselves forward for reselection. If they have been doing their job properly they will be reselected.

Why should sitting MEPs just waltz into this cushy, well paid job. Most electors haven't a clue who their MEPs are, so it is up to them to make themselves known, and what they have done to earn their place in the EU Parliament.

Whohe, I'm sure all the people you mention worked very hard. I'm sure Gordon Brown and Tony Blair work very hard, it doesn't mean they are doing a job which is of benefit to our country. A key feature of democracy is electing someone who represents our interest and what you believe in. If the members present believe that the MEP has been working hard at pursuing an agenda which they don't believe in, then surely it's their democractic right to choose someone who does instead.

The key work is democracy. Not much of that in the EU of course.

I'm afraid that Torygirl is just plain wrong - on the basis of the last seriously-flawed "selection" process. Rules were flagrantly broken, "members" were signed up to vote only at the hustings, vile knocking copy circulated in the eurosceptic media and under the guise of lobyy groups such as the Bruges Group etc., etc. Reports were sent to CCO, who ignored the abuses but did vow to ensure that it would not happen again. Hard work and commitment to constituents' interests counted for very little in certain regions infested with UKIP supporters masquerading as Tory Party members. So please spare me the "good MEPs will get re-selected" routine - it does just not stand up to proper scrutiny.

Which were these regions then whohe? Considering we've ended up with a two thirds Europhile delegation, it couldn't have had much of an impact. If we're talking about scrutiny, then point to some proof of these allegations.

To describe either Roy Perry or the Earl of Stockton as "hardworking" is simply ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact their views were completely out of step with party members, neither of them did a jot of work in their constituencies! Robert Atkins fell a place on his regional list for the same reason. Going around to constituency events and having your photo taken doesn't equal "hard work".

One poster makes reference to Eurosceptic groups "bussing in" supporters. What's the problem with that? Pro-European groups in the Party such as the TRG are welcome to do the same thing to support their candidates. The point is, they lack a critical mass of members that share their views!

'whohe' is once again just making it all up again. I suspect. Any evidence 'whohe'?

"and the best people to make that judgement are the Constituency Chairmen and Regional Officers who know the FACTS about an MEP's contribution rather than listening to the ill-informed diatribes from violently anti-European and, probably, anti-Conservative subscribers to this column. "

Translates as "On no account should europhile MEPs risk losing their places on the list."

As I said when this was first discussed its about accountability - FTTP ensures MPs are accountable personally to their electorate. List MEPs are currently only accountable to Party officials, at very least they should be accountable to party members. My preference is to whole membership voting rather than hustings ,which are liable to bussing in supporters/opponents.

"To describe either Roy Perry or the Earl of Stockton as "hardworking" is simply ridiculous".

I don't know Roy Perry, but the Earl of Stockton was dumped at the polls by voters who didn't want him. I hope he will not be putting his name forward again.

I went to a hustings some time ago, and the sitting Conservative MEP was a nasty piece of work. After his speech to the party faithful pleading to be selected again, we put the boot in, quite legally, by questioning him on a certain thing he had done. The people in the hall put him well down the list, and he didn't get onto the final list.

Actually, the MEP who came out top needs dumping now. Caroline Jackson swore she was a Eurosceptic at the hustings, well we all know that isn't true.

The Constituency Chairmen can advise, but we shouldn't all follow blindly. Many people in this Constituency were advised by our MP to vote for David Cameron and told he was the best option. Most are now saying they made a terrible mistake and won't be listening again to "Those who know best", or rather those who think they know best.

"The Constituency Chairmen can advise, but we shouldn't all follow blindly. Many people in this Constituency were advised by our MP to vote for David Cameron and told he was the best option. Most are now saying they made a terrible mistake and won't be listening again to "Those who know best", or rather those who think they know best."

Torygirl, you don't seem to mind who you put the boot into?
Rather odd to call it "this" constituency rather than mine?
Are you telling me that the good members of your local conservative association were unable to make a judgement on their own, and in fact did not advocate a preference TO their MP in the final vote?
Are you saying that they all boycotted the BBC/ITV or SKY news in that area and did not buy a newspaper? I believe there was a lot of coverage for over 6 months, which scrutinized the various leadership contenders in detail, also lots of televised hustings styled debates. Most people I know within the party or sites such as ConHom liked to discuss the whole issue in great depth, and everyone seemed to be very keen to make up their own minds about who they would vote for.

So what IS Honest John's definition of hard work? Isn't 'going round constituencies' EXACTLY what is required to support local Conservative Associations, campaigning with Council/Parliamentary candidates, speaking at fund-raising dinners and the rest. Constituencies need just as much attention as Parliamentary duties and simply cannot be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps HJ should do some real work in a difficult Labour seat and then he might realise the value of committed activity and, yes, publicity by way of a photograph, in an area with which the 'heavies' in the Party never bother. MEPs like Perry, Stockton, Atkins & ors did/do just that - unlike some of the noisy eurosceptics who are all "sound and fury signifying nothing" !

If they did that much whohe, then the members would have voted for them. You still haven't backed up any of these busing in of Supporters yet.

Andrew Woodman - you should read the reports submitted to CCO after the last "selection" debacle by some of the Regional Agents. Chapter and verse is all there - not in every area, but some. How about the sudden increase in Kashmiri Tory Members in the SE region and their attendance in large numbers at the hustings, for starters?

Let's see evidence 'whohe'.So far you have made a number of assertions all of which I suspect are not true at at all. Prove me wrong.

My attention has been drawn to this discussion and I am very touched by the interest in my political welfare, even if most of the allegations are wholly incorrect! However, my question is to Andrew Woodman. On what basis does he state that two thirds of the Tory MEPs are europhiles? I, for one, am not and have never been. At least three quarters, if not much more, of the delegation are wholly opposed to the Constitution, the Euro and a federal United States of Europe. So where does he get this idea from? Is it because we believe in trying to work within the system, however difficult, on behalf of our Constituents, unlike the eurosceptic UKIP MEPs who do nothing but come to Brussels to claim their expenses? Or is it because he and his friends are so opposed to "Europe" that he cannot tolerate anyone doing what we were elected to do as European Parliamentarians?

Well said Honest John at 14:32 re: 'bussing in'.

Why would real democrats complain about anyone assisting party members to take part in a democratic selection process?

Groups representing any particular view can do it. If they can fill a bus, that is! If you can't, and you're outnumbered, that's democracy I'm afraid!

Whinging from 1950s EU fanatics is only to be expected. Supporting democratic processes and being enthused by the EU are hardly compatible outlooks.

>>My attention has been drawn to this discussion<<

That cliche has to be the absolute hallmark of a pompous out-of-touch twerp.

If it were not true that the Tory ranks at Strasbourg are packed with Eurofanatics Roger Helmer would not have ended up in purdah.

Nor would there have been an receent attempt by Tory MEP patriots - sadly unsuccessful - to seize control of this sad bunch.

Most of them, including Atkins, should be sluiced out and replaced by true Tories committed to BOO.

>>"To describe either Roy Perry or the Earl of Stockton as "hardworking" is simply ridiculous"<<

I did know Roy Perry. He was my MEP, and Torygirl is 100% right about him.

Good riddance!

I was under the obviously mistaken belief that this was a sensible discussion of a somewhat controversial topic. But common abuse rather than rational argument seems to be the order of the day. Judge a case by its proponents and look what you get. Bye!

Sir Robert, I draw my conclusion from the fact that two thirds of the delegation wish to remain in the federalist EPP. Two Thirds also failed to support the reinstatement campiagn of a colleague, who was thrown out for signing a censure motion against fraud. I make judgments by actions rather than words.

Protests by Sir Robert 'EPP' Atkins at 17:23 that he's not a europhile are hardly credible while he fanatically supports remaining as a lonely minority within a group clearly working to a 1950s EU-State agenda.

Surely it's time to ditch the bankrupt idea that getting cosy seats on committees and sitting in grand groups is more important than making a clear stand for the anti-superstate principles of the Conservative Party that delivered Sir Robert to his position.

That would really be working on behalf of his constituents.

I must say I have been absolutely fascinated by the discussion on this thread.

First we have David Sumberg MEP recommending that he and existing Conservative MEPs should be effectively given life peerages to the European Parliament because they got in once before. I am absolutely appalled by this statement. I (and most others) would not find that solution in any way democratic. Disgraceful.

Then we have some nut 'whohe' claiming that eurosceptics “bussed in” supporters. Hello, welcome to democracy. I think this particular statement is perhaps even worse than when the BBC’s Today programme tried to weasel their way out of the results of abolishment poll which the Hunting Act topped – claiming that the Countryside Alliance had run a campaign to get people to vote for their option! On this basis, perhaps we should abolish political parties as we obviously can’t have them advocating getting out the vote according to the enlightened ‘whohe’?

Even better though was the comment by ‘whohe’ claiming that (and I quote) “the best people to make that judgement are the Constituency Chairmen and Regional Officers who know the FACTS about an MEP's contribution.” If ordinary party members in constituencies do not know what an MEP does, then perhaps this is an indication that certain MEPs are not doing their jobs properly! This makes it even more hilarious when 'whohe' then claims that certain MEPs have spent vast amounts of time in their constituencies with members, and yet these members still supposedly don't know what the MEPs do!!

If Sir Robert Atkins was “obviously mistaken that this was a sensible discussion of a somewhat controversial topic” then what else can he be mistake about I wonder? I would agree with Andrew Woodman’s post at 19:17.

What I actually think this thread indicates is that a number of pro-EU Conservatives are currently very worried about the future of their careers. If these people truly believed that they had done a good job and were fully representing the views of party members then they should have no fear of placing themselves up for an open reselection process.

I feel a storm coming...

The process for selecting candidates for the 2009 European Elections should be based on a system of regional hustings with each MEP having a set amount of time to speak and to take questions. All prospective candidates should be treated equally, be they existing MEPs or new comers.

As several people have stated on this site if a sitting MEP after five years or longer in the job can't get re-selected via this method then they don't deserve to be in the job.

The Conservative Party contains many members with many different views about Europe; the same is true of our MEPs. All members are invited to the hustings and as many as possible should attend. What fairer system is there? If you can think of one please do let me know.

Some people have complained about Euro sceptics or Europhiles bussing in their supporters. As long as they are Conservative Party members what does it matter? It is up to the members who make the effort to attend the hustings to select the MEPs. Those who can't be bothered to attend should not complain when their favoured candidates don't get selected.

What we want are fair, honest and democratic hustings to select the best possible candidates to fight the very important European Elections in 2009.

Glad to see 'whohe' was unable to present any evidence whatsoever to justify his/her assertions. Why am I not suprised?

I guess (s)he's just given up on us, Malcolm. A sad loss ...

My view, a vote of members sounds fine but in practice very few members bother to vote.
The result can easily be skewed but an organised candidate getting lots of friends and family to join the party and vote for them, the numbers are that small!

Oh dear. I hope that wasn't really Sir Robert Atkins. If those sentiments are genuine, he made himself look uppity, bad-tempered and pretty stupid.

Frankly, Praguetory, any MP/MEP who feels the need to type in "Rt Hon" in front of their name when writing a blog comment gives away their uppitiness before they've even begun.

My attention has been drawn to this thread by my clicking the left button of my computer mouse.

Just consider David Sumberg's post again:

"...it is very difficult, once a franchise is given (in this case to all party members) to take it away."

Yes, it's a surprise we haven't reversed women's suffrage yet, either. Are you working on that in Brussels?

"So perhaps the best method would be that all party members should rank existing incumbents who should be guaranteed the top slots on the lists whilst there should be a separate ballot to rank the non-incumbents."

Yes, perhaps we should not even have an election afterwards and simply fill seats in the European Parliament on the principle of dead men's shoes.

"Like all compromises, this would not please everybody..."

No, David, but I can think of at least one person who might be able to rub along with it. Can you?

"...but it simply tries to be fair to both existing MEPs and to party members."

Fair in the Animal Farm sense, yes.

As for Rt Hon Wotsit, he is beyond satire.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker