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I am delighted to learn that Jeremy Middleton will practice what he preached during this year's National Convention Board rep elections & glad that I voted for him again.I am also delighted to see that the strength and depth of feeling throughout the Party on this issue mirrors my own and I fervently hope that Francis Maude and the Board are not so totally contemptuous of their own membership as to ignore that strength and depth of feeling.

Whatever your views on Europe, and our MEPs individually may be, this issue is about basic democratic principles and our rights as party members and neither of those can be allowed to be run roughshod over, whatever the excuses proffered for doing so.

I have spoken to Emma Pidding on this issue and she told me that she was definitely in favour of retaining the democratic rights of members on this issue. I know she visits this site regularly and I urge her to spell this out herself for the record.

The idea that taking away members rights will avoid divisiveness in the party could not be further from the truth. If there is any attempt to take away our right to rank all candidates, it will create a huge row - far worse than the noise made by a few disgruntled MEPs who may be lower down the list than they would like.

I have to say that I too back the rights of members in this issue. We cannot credibly say we back being more open through the use of primaries etc on the one hand and then remove rights away from members with the other.

From someone who is generally very supportive of the current leadership and even frequently defends Francis Maude - please, step back from this path and reject the NEF's recommendations.

"This effort to protect incumbent MEPs is, of course, only the latest example of the party leadership's attempt to dilute party democracy. There was the attempt to strip members of the vote in the election of party leader and the aborted plan from the Party Board to substantially restrict the autonomy of local Associations."
Editor, I think your statement could use some re-wording editor. On first reading it looks like you are trying to blame Cameron for Howard's attempt to disenfranchise members in leadership elections.

I've also heard that Emma Pidding should be supporting the rights of members.

I may be missing something here, but to be honest this 'MEP Watch' stuff seems ridiculous.

Why should only MEPs have to be reselected from scratch everytime? If they are, then are we going to bring this in for MPs as well? Making the likes of William Hague, David Davis and Liam Fox go through a grassroots selection every time a general election is coming up?

I have heard some comments about how the party is trying to protect the 'Europhile' MEPs - it is my understanding that the majority of our MEPs are eurosceptic and spend their time very productively in Brussels voting against pro-EU legislation.

If we are going to force MEPs into a re-selection process against their collegues and new candidates then are we going to progress (or regress) this to Westminster as well?

And as for having an'MEP watch' to keep track of our MEPs - how about we leave that to our opponents and focus our efforts on other parties? It would be better to do an 'EU' watch and then get out there to campaign against all the dross that comes out of Brussels. A 'UKIP MEP Watch' would also make interesting reading about how often they abstain from voting, when they could be making a difference by voting with us.

Ever heard of accountability Anne-Marie? In fact, if you had you'd know all MPs have to be re-selected and, in the cases of Sir Patrick Cormack and James Gray, sometimes the local association doesn't automatically reselect and they have to apply again. So, to answer your assertion, there is already re-selection for westminster.

Furthermore, you take an incredibly naive approach to MEPs. The likes of Beazley, Kirkhopeless and Evans all posture to the eurosceptic vote come selection, but in Brussels - far removed from the grassroots - they vote and act like unrepresentative europhile federalists.

MEP Watch does us all a service by keeping members informed as to what MEPs do and say so we can see their true colours. I just hope we retain the vote to throw out these europhile cranks and put in some candidates who will stand up for Britain!

Gven the undemocratic closed list system used to elect MEP's, the right of members voting to rank all the candidates on the shortlist is key.

Why incumbent MEPs need any special protection I don't understand. If they're any good they should be well known by party members in their region. I've already received several leaflets from my regional MEP's.

I think the party should look at ways to increase the number of women MEP's, but if this is all they can come up with, the party has to go back to the drawing board.

'It is my understanding that the majority of our MEPs are eurosceptic and spend their time very productively in Brussels voting against pro-EU legislation.'

Anne-Marie, clearly your understanding of the situation is at odds with reality. As Tim Aker correctly points out, a worrying number of Conservative MEPs bring out the 'Save the Pound' badges and relatively Eurosceptic speeches for hustings - but once back in Europe they firmly settle back down onto the gravy train, selling this country down the river.

Quite clearly you have been speaking to one of those MEPs, because your reply is a carbon-copy of their usual worried response to scrutiny.

Whilst I adamantly oppose any attempt to remove party members' right to select MEPs, I hope that there will be equal exposure and condemnation of any other attempts to stitch up the selection that have been rumoured in the past.

One of my main concerns is that the candidates and ranking selected should result in our MEPs reflecting broadly the whole of the party and its voters, not one narrow wing. A slate that satisfies only one corner will do nothing to yield the best results for the party.

Tim. Have you ever heard of re-adoption? Ever heard of getting your facts right Tim? If you had, you'd know that NOT ALL MPS ARE RESELECTED. There is a re-adoption process for incumbents when the Association decides whether to re-adopt the sitting MP. They are NOT forced to go through a reselection process with other candidates.

I take on board your comments and will have a think - but Tim, MPs are readopted not reselected! They are two different things!

I would hope our local MP, Sir Michael Spicer, wouldn't need much lobbying on this issue!

I think sitting MPs should have to go through a proper re-selection process for each Gen Election, and they should not be given an automatic 'by' to the final, either.

It would help to clear out some deadwood that the Associations are too frightened, too weak or too well-mannered to do at present!

When the party delegation in Brussels is changing its entire platform (moving from a federalist to a reform grouping) now is certainly not the time to protect incumbency.

Don't forget, MPs are much closer to the constituency. If you are, like me, a party activist and local councillor or a member of the local branch and/or the Conservative Club and go to functions, you, too, will see the MP (or, in my case the PPC) close up. If you have a problem, you can visit the MP at his surgery or even have him (or her {as if I have to write that!}) come and visit you at home. You would have a good idea if your local MP was up to snuff; if not he or she can be de-selected. Good MPs know that there is a queue a mile long waiting to step into their shoes. This is not quite the case for MEPs.

MEPs are swanning about between Brussels and Strasburg or off on jollies, oops, fact-finding vists around the world, for most of the time. I can tell you the name of only 2 of my MEPs off the top of my head - Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage.

The one who has been given responsibility for my area should really be called Mr Invisible for all the good he is locally. At a recent meeting, here, he actually had the effrontary to toe the Blair line that the proposals for the European Constitution had been killed off by the Conservative Group in Brussels and only a couple of piddling clauses were going to be allowed to go through, far too trivial a matter to require a referendum!

THE one and one only outstanding MEP is R Helmer who stands head and shoulders above (I suspect) even many MPs for the work and energy he puts in. He is a shining example to all and one cannot, frankly, wonder at the disgraceful treatment he received at the hands of the pro-EU clique in the group who kicked him out - he makes them look like political pygmies. He is a jolly good reason for moving to Leicester!

So I am all in favour of a regular review of the work of MEPs, leading to deselection or sacking mid-term if required; it's the only way to keep them on their toes.

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