The Board of the Conservative Party has reached a decision in principle on
the method for selection of candidates for the European Parliament for the 2009
election. Sitting MEPs who have been re-selected following a procedure
similar to that laid down in the Party’s constitution for Westminster MPs will
be placed in ranking order by party members in a postal ballot. Members
will also be asked to place additional candidates in ranking order. In the
wholly exceptional circumstances that there will be no sitting MEPs who are
women seeking re-election, and for this selection process only, the top position
in each region below any reselected sitting MEPs will be occupied by the woman
candidate who gets the most votes in the postal ballot. Detailed arrangements
will be developed in the coming weeks.
At first sight this was as clear as mud to a simple mind like mine, but if it means what I think it means, then it is a partial victory for those who have been up in arms about the process. The Board's aim has been to try to reflect the Westminster reselection process as far as possible. What I don't particularly like is that a regional panel will decide upon reselection, but this is mitigated by the fact that Europhile MEPs will have to agree to support the Party's stance of pulling out of the EPP.
The National European Forum wanted the panel to then rank the sitting MEPs. The Board overturned this proposal, so party members will now have two ranking votes - one for incumbents and the second for new candidates. This widens democracy and takes power away from the few dozen people who ever bothered to attend regional hustings.
I do not like the proposal for women to be given the top ranking position on any new candidate list. Many good men will now not even bother to apply in some region. Why bother putting yourself through a process in which the oucome is already predetermined. In many areas there may only be one winnable position available.
All in all this is a compromise. The details are yet to be set in stone. But the question now is: is it a compromise with which both Eurosceptics and Europhiles can live?
It seems that sitting MEPS will have to submit themselves to a regional selection conference, then each party member may rank them and any new applicants in any order they
Why any self respecting male would want to put themselves through this process is beyond me - not that I can see any attraction in being a Euro MP anyway. But, more importantly, if I understand this correctly it means that any sitting MEP is automatically reselected. This is not the same as the Westminster system at all,