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Pt 1 - Irrevocably committing to leave the EPP is not enough - they must be committed and competent to deliver on leading an EU reform agenda.
Pt 2 - On the face of it this looks like a very easy electorate for an MEP to satisfy (especially when the Association members take pt 5 into account).
Pt 3 - Of course
Pt 4 - Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic? A facade for democracy. Who give two hoots about this?
Pt 5 - Who vets these candidates for their suitability to be part of the EU reform group? Dress it up as you like, these are appointees.
Pt 6 - Irrelevance. Again a facade.

The issue hinges on the credibility of the National Party to properly manage the MEPs.

Alas it has been woefully incompetent in undertaking this task.

We have MEPs openly speaking out against leaving the EPP (Caroline) and not following party policy yet there has been no disciplining of them nor of their awful Leader Kirkhope with his Euro supportive actions.

First CCHQ needs to crack down on Kirkhope and his shower of Euro loving appeasers and show that it is capable of managing MEPs on behalf of the Membership.

Where is the evidence that it is doing this?

Trust is something that has to be earned and CCHQ and the Central apparatus show little evidence of being capable of earning that trust over the MEP selection.

This action will also I fear destabilize some Associations (the Chairman of CF also pointed it out elsewhere) because it will encourage various factions to change their Chairman for someone who can be trusted to vote their way, not for someone who is the best person to run a constituency. In a word MADNESS.

Retiring MEPs to be replaced by women candidates ,does this also mean that MEPs who are rejected are also replaced by women candidates.
Anontory speaks the truth

I can live with most of this, but I believe many Party members will feel it is wrong for incumbent MEPs to be entitled to the top spots. By all means give them a free pass to the final selection round, but then let them sink or swim against newcomers.

An incumbent has had five years or more of a high profile in the region, backed by staff and information funding. He (it mostly is "he") has, or should have, visited dozens of constituency meetings, AGMs, other events; he should have been out on the pavements for years campaigning with Conservative candidates; he should have a solid record of achievement to talk about at his selection meeting. If after all that he can´t get selected in a winnable position, then he doesn´t deserve to.

Or, in other words, the South West with 3 MEPs, 2 of whom are retiring, will be forced to have a top 3 of Giles Chichester and 2 women - how democratic. Why the hell should my region be saddled with MEPs not of its choosing for 5 years simply to make the parliamentary party look more inclusive? I'd accept some preference in getting women onto the long-list, but all members must be involved in the short-listing. I can't believe the party will put me in a position where I might have to vote for someone else - but that is what this nonsense makes me consider...

What if the members don't like what the favoured incumbents have been doing and saying? They will still be lumbered under this system. It seems that EU-style jobs-for-life-for-the-boys is now part of the Conservative ethos... I agree with Roger - let them sink or swim with the memberships' vote: anyone who isn't known enbough to get voted for after years of being an MEP deserves to be dumped.

Does this effectively mean if you are male and not curretly an MEP you really have no chance of becoming a Conservative MEP at the next Euro elections?

Surely these must be proposals at this stage - or what is the point of Monday's Board Meeting? If true, it sounds as though the Board is simply a rubber stamp for the Leadership. Why should a major change of this nature be allowed to go through without at least a vote by the National Convention, let alone the Board.

Democracy is not much in evidence in the Party, if these kind of changes go through on the nod. No wonder people are joining the smaller parties instead, if they are to be ignored in this way.

"Any retiring MEPs will be replaced by women candidates*".

Is this an all woman shrtlist?

I'm voting UKIP all the way to the GE, if this goes through.

Has anyone noticed the poll running in the online Telegraph this morning, the question is , "Is Cameron an effective opposition leader". At the moment the answer is 65% no. This differs somewhat from polls on his effectiveness run by this site.

The interesting question is when an MEP retires and is replaced by a woman do they automatically get the former MEP's position on the list?

I thought we only had a single European partner in this MER set up. Wouldnt it mean that if we were to pull out of the EPP, we would end up being a very small and uninfluential bit part in the Parliament? I thought we needed 5 nationalities to be able to form a Group...

I would love to see us set up a fully fledged Group able to go for European Reform, but to be honest I havent seen any indication that the numbers support this idea.

James - if we had a proper leadership not undertaking gimmicks and prepared to engage with other potential we will have sufficient partners to be influential.

It would appear that your findings Tim, are in keeping with those published on the MEP Watch website today.

You are right, this is a worrying dilution of our democratic rights and must be stopped at all costs.

I have supported or at least accepted much of what the leadership have done since DC became leader but personally the last couple of weeks have tested my loyalty.
The Greg Dyke farce, with the leader and a smll coterie of advisers (excluding the Party Chairman, Shadow cabinet and other parts of the leadership) decide to support a Labour candidate, admittedly an unhappy one, followed by this centralising and undemocratic process shows a distinct loss of nerve and trust in democracy and the politicians ability to persuade.
The EPP approach that David Davis put forward was always the better proposal as it recognised that our party had agreed with the EPP a course of action for this EU parliament term. DC was wrongly advised to promise otherwise. We now have the DD proposal as policy and I would expect any potential MEP to support it - so no problem with that being a pre-condition. All women shortlists, and ranking of candidates by Association Chairman NO.
MEPs are elected on a party list so are representatives of the Party. The members are the Party, the members should decide.

So we will go to the expense of a ballot of members that will determine almost nothing: it will rank existing MEPs, all of whom will probably be re-elected irrespective of their ranking at the head of the regional lists; and it will select and rank the newcomers most of whom will occupy unelectable positions on the lists. All it WILL do is decide which woman may replace a retiring MEP.

I think Lady Thatcher put it best when she said "NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!"

NONE of this is anywhere NEAR acceptable.

This is the party showing how well it understand how to operate as a branch office of Brussels.

Yes, Derek, 9:33 - these are proposals at this stage. I've amended the post to make that clear.

If this were to go through, then we must be ready to organise an effective opposition to the leadership. I would suggest a boycott of any campaigning for the next EU election, and for associations to demand thatpayments of association funds towards the Euro campaign are stopped until it is reversed.

The time for talking will be over and it is then time for action.

Derek, I think they will find the action comes a little quicker and harder than that.

"committed to leaving the EPP". Wow!
Big deal, so what? Are we know supposed to go down on our knees and give thanks for Cameron?

If you are looking for comparisons with reselection of M.P.s, what doesn't happen is that another five people are chosen for the "shortlist" and they and the M.P. go up for election by members. An association has to deslect an M.P. first. Anyone unhappy with the proposals needs to propose an alternative way to address the de/selection of sitting M.E.P.s.

Maybe I missed something but I am not clear how "replacement" women candidates are selected.

Must confess to being a bit stunned by this. I was actively considering applying for the Euro list but it seems there is no point. I had thought there was some hope in my region given that we have 2 retiring MEP's but it seems they must be replaced by women candidates, so I am sunk. Needless to say I am male.

Perhaps I'll just go fishing instead.

I'm sorry but these proposals completely fail to address the heart of this issue which is the leadership of the Conservative Party wanting to disenfranchise their members from genuine choice in the selection of their representatives for public office, representatives that they are then expected to work, voluntarily, to get elected.

I am very much afraid that this whole device has been deliberately created so that the leadership can publicly demonstrate to Stephen Gilbert's focus groups of LibDem voters, and all those like them in the wider electorate, that they will cut off the influence of those nasty "right wing" Conservative Party members within the party in order to get those LibDems to vote Conservative.If so this is, in many ways, a bit of a "clause 4" moment.

However, whatever the reason, and personally I haven't yet heard a single one that truly justifies this cynical contempt of us, the basic principle of that disenfranchisement, the very opposite of the belief in democracy that we are supposedly selling to the voters, must be resisted with maximum vigour, including after the Board meeting if necessary.

Members of the Party Board if you're reading this; Please do not agree to this attack on party democracy and your membership.

This is all part of a sad pattern that demonstrates how Cameron/Maude have adopted the Blair/Brown approach to politics:

- The party membership has been set up as a kicking stool against which they can be seen to win "battles".

- Fewer and fewer decisions will be taken by the membership through votes. In the Labour Party the Conference and the National Executive used to have this role in the Conservative Party it used to be the Branches and the Membership.The membership will now only be allowed to rubber stamp decisions, Soviet style, in the sort of charade described above.

- Presenting a coherent story board to the media is the primary concern, the more like a soap opera. In this case the "story" is that the Conservative Party has moderated its views on Europe.

- It is so important that the "Party" must be subservient to their project that they would rather lose most of the membership and have a tax funded shell that can act as a vehicle to promote policies developed from the centre and candidates appointed by a small "elite".

I would agree with Derek that action will be needed. If they don't want the members to have a real voice then, they don't need members canvassing or telling for them. This also gives a very real incentive for not voting in the next Euro election, who else do you vote for ? The whole process has become the antithesis of democracy. Perhaps the right process should be to form a Conservative Abstension Group to pursuade as many voters as possible to boycott the elections. The fewer who vote and the less democratic validation Europe has, the easier it will be to oppose unpopular decisions.

Right. So that's all quite clear then ...

As I have said here before, I shall be voting UKIP in the Euro elections!

How best to respond to a kick in the teeth?

Voting UKIP will not help reform the EU. They refuse to cooperate and negotiate with others withing the european parliament. So why vote for them?

That said, when we reclaim the presidency of the EU, the then PM has to push for massive reform.

This is unacceptable.

* "Only MEPs who irrevocably commit to David Cameron's EPP exit commitment will be entitled to stand again as MEPs".

Who say's David Cameron's views on Europe are right? If they are not, how do you put forward an alternative view? I can put up with losing a vote after having argued my case, I can not accept being prohibited from arguing the point of view I believe in at all.

Under this policy initiative the debate is stifled. Indeed, there is no debate. There is simply a diktat.

This is undemocratic and dangerous. It smacks of totalatarianism. This is alien to the history and traditions of the Conservative Party.

Does this mean that all pro-European Tories or Tories with a pragmatic approach to Europe now no longer can be members of the Conservative Party? If so, this is a putch -and it is a putch which will split the Conservative Party. As such, this is an ill-conceived strategy and one with wide ranging ramifications.

If we exit the EPP where do we go? The so-called alternative is a joke.

To allign the Conservative Party with a few extremists and xhenophobes serves the interests of no one, least of all the British public who MEP's are elected to serve.

From a business perspective Europe is important, and the interests of Britain as Margret Thatcher declared require that we be at the heart of Europe. Cameron's EPP exit strategy leaves our party at the periphery of Europe.

Has anyone thought this policy through? I do not think so. It is silly, ill-conceived and it will cost us both at home and abroad.

* "MEPs will then be assessed by a college of regional Association Chairmen and others (large Associations will have extra representatives on this college) as to whether they should continue as candidates in the top places of regional lists;
If the college rejects incumbent MEPs they will not be permitted to stand at all;
Rank-and-file members will then have an opportunity to re-rank those MEPs who are approved as candidates but only within the top slots; Any retiring MEPs will be replaced by women candidates;
Members will then be able to propose rankings for other MEP candidates for the slots outside the top places."

Again this is unacceptable.

What makes David Cameron think that members of the Conservative Party will stand for this jerrymandering?

The only fair way to select a candidate is "one member, one vote". Candidates should be selected on merit alone through an open and fair democratic process. Anything else is unacceptable, it is contrary to all that the Conservative Party stands for, and it is unethical.

How can any Conservative vote at the European Elections for a Conservative List selected in this way? It is an affront to everything that Conservatives believe in.

Many middle-of-the-road Conservatives have defected to the Liberal Demorates or Labour. These fair minded folk are the "centerground" that we alienated when the Conservative Party drifted to the extremes of anti-European views in the late 1990's.

The "center ground" is also occupied by white, middle class professionals who have families, who pay their taxes, and who want sound Government. The Labour Party clearly has recognised this fact as illustrated by the recent environmental debate over taxing air travel where we looked electorially nieve and downright stupid.

As a simple electorial fact, white, middle class men and women are the backbone of Middle England. These are the people who care enough to vote.

Therefore, it is these people we need to win back to the Conservative Party if we ever want power again. This part of the electorate is not anti-European. As such, this will not persuade them to return to the fold.

From the perspective of anyone who is sensible, this selection policy confirms that it is the same "nasty party" dominated by anti-European Tories. A few more women candidates, or candidates from ethnic backgrounds is not going to convince anyone that the Conservative Party has moved back to the center ground. Indeed, moving to the middle ground is not about having more women or ethnic minorities in parliament - that is a complete red herring - what is important is that we have the right people in parliament in whom the electorate have trust.

Party hacks who simply do as they are told, however photogenic they may be, are part of the reason why the public is so deeply disenchanted with modern British politics.

To think that the superficial re-branding that has taken place is sufficient, is to misunderstand why the British public rejected the Conservative Party in the past three elections.

The Labour Party's position on Europe looks far more grown-up than that put forward by David Cameron's Nottinghill Set.

I have heard several former Conservatives, deeply disillusioned by David Cameron's policy initiative state that perhaps the best way to deal with those aspects of the Labour Party that they do not like, is to join the Labour Party. However much one dislikes aspects of "new Labour" policy, the party at least is run by grown-ups and it has serious policies. Regretably, it is becoming imposible to take David Cameron seriously.

Although I disagree profoundly with MH [above] on the EU, I agree with his thoughts on democracy in the party. At the last MEP selection the members did not choose all the eurosceptic candidates for the top rankings. Members are a very sophisticated electorate and they will look at many factors. Indeed the membership covers a wide range of views on the EU.

The attempt to remove the members right to rank all candidates will be seen as a slap in the face for all of them. The right to rank the candidates in positions six to ten will be seen for what it is - a completely pointless exercise. The result will be hardly anyone will bother to attend, members will become completely disillusioned. The whole charade will be a gift to UKIP who must be rubbing their hands.

I urge all Board members to reject this nonsense now before it is too late, if not then I predict disaster!

This is the sort of lunacy that comes only from Francis Maude. Francis Maude must go.

First with have the fiasco of the A List. This was finally abandoned because it became clear that the local associations were more prepared select a swivel eyed imbecile that could claim to be local than be told who they could have from a ridiculed central list.

Then we had the Dyke lunancy, which was abandoned after even the stupid Liberals realised it was barking mad.

Now we will have a MEP selection fiasco. The selection procedure is made complex with the express purpose of preventing members of choosing who they want. This is classic Maude. So, there will be another backlash and more activists will sit on their hands since they will feel that have not had a chance to express themselves.

The irony is that hardly any sitting MEPs would have been done away with in reality because Conservatives don't tend to axe incumbents. And a 50:50 women thing would probably have been accepted. The ramming of mad rules down people's throats is only going to divide and cause upset.

But then that's what Maude has done for the last ten years - cause division and upset. It's why he now has to go. We must have a party chairman that brings people together.

@Jonathan Shepherd

This is completely unacceptable. The very worst part about it is giving the members the full and free right to select the candidates rated 5 and below. This glib, facile concession is an insult to our intelligence. It is actually rude to suggest that anyone, including the candidates, cares who is ranked 5 or below or is in anyway fooled by this nonsense of democracy.

We should be demanding from Cameron a commitment to abolish the Party List system if he gets into government.

Wait for Monday but I expect the commitment to be given will be to be fully in favour of the Leader's strategy on the EPP. I suspect that even the most fervent federast amongst the MEPs will feel able to sign up to that pledge.

At a recent meeting in our area, a sitting MEP (no names, no pack drill) opened up his 'few words' with the contention that the Conservative Group in Europe had confounded the European constitution and killed it off. There will, of course, be only a few piddling little clauses of a so-called treaty, or something, to enable Europe to work much better but the constitution itself was dead, thanks to the Conservatives in Europe.

The man is not a fool; he must know that what he was saying was in direct contradiction to what is actually going on i.e. the European Constitution by the back door, to be signed off by Blair sans referendum.

This same MEP was also one of the group who openly rebelled against the DC instruction to leave the EPP. Far from being admonished, or sacked immediately he is now seemingly being protected.

If someone sat down deliberately to devise a plan to alienate the activists, I can't help feeling that this would be it.

Several points emerge from these comments. If all party members can do is to fiddle about with the rankings within the group of incumbents at the top, and within the group of applicants at the bottom, many will feel it's a waste of time, and will not bother to participate in a rigged process. Second, as I have warned before, good potential candidates will be discouraged from applying if they are guaranteed a losing position, even if their chances in an open process might be modest -- they can always dream!

James Maskell is entirely wrong to suggest that we should lose influence by leaving the EPP. Indeed the main reason the EPP want us in (in my view) is that they can speak for us, keep us quiet, and limit the damage we can do to the integrationist project. A focused and committed group of Conservative MEPs, either in a small group or indeed alone, could have a much bigger voice than we have now in the belly of the EPP beast.

Does anyone remember the "Built to Last" document; the Party's statement of its principles and values? It explained how we intended to "TRUST THE PEOPLE". Are Party members not people too?

If Party democracy were to be taken away, what would be the point in being a Party member?

David Cameron must not allow the Party Board to disenfranchise the rest of us.

The anti-democrats on the Party Board ought to be democratically dismissed. The Party doesn't belong to the Boartd. It belongs to its membership.

Nice point, Frank. These proposals are utterly at variance with the Conservative principles that the party has established over the last year.

After the furore caused by Michael Howard trying to restrict party democracy in 2005 I am very suprised that another leader tries to do something similar only two years later. This will cause bitterness and resentment amongst many activists and for what? To save the hides of a few recalcitrant MEPs who have little support either in the party or in the country. I thought Cameron would have more sense.Let's hope your source is wrong Tim.

All of this stuff is about DC not coming through with his promise to the Members/Party to pull out of the EPP asap.

That's all.

Another mess-up coming i'm afraid.

The only comment I would like to make on this thread is that I really do wonder why on earth anyone would WANT to become an MEP after this debate!! The sheer vitriol and insults being hurled at them just beggars belief. We need good Conservative MEPs just as much as we need good Conservative Members of Parliament and Councillors. Please grant the European hopefuls and incumbents a little respect.

These proposals beggar belief. One has to hope that the Party Board has more sense. Presumably the site will strive to get the first leak of their decision. The best we can probably hope for is "refer back".

Just on one point re the "all-women replacement" restriction. I am not sure how many are standing down but, at the risk of being howled down as sexist, may I suggest that women are even less likely to want to spend so much time away from their families than men and that, with the push for women at Westminster also, the good ones are therefore even more likely than the men to save themselves for Westminster. Further, with MP aspirations hampered for the men this time (rightly in my view) surely it would be a natural apprenticeship for some to become MEPs before probably becoming MPs later. And in terms of the look of it, as the public have little idea who their MEPs are, and it's a party list anyway, what is achieved by favouring women at the possible expense of quality? Good women never had an issue - Theresa Villiers was voted top of the slate twice in London.

It could just be that DC is silly and niave with this latest "idea",or,he is being led around by the nose and fed absolute rubbish by someone he trusts.

Things can only get better,I hope.

I've found englandexpects.blogspot.com by using [URL=http://google.com]Google[/URL]

Hello from someone new but no newbie!
Greetings =]

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