Sunday, April 22, 2007

Monday's Tory Board meeting is getting interesting

Only yesterday I commented on one proposal for the Monday's meeting which will decide how the Tory party plans to select its next crop of MEPs. Now it appears that another set of ideas is being proposed.
• Only MEPs who irrevocably commit to David Cameron's EPP exit commitment will be entitled to stand again as MEPs;
• Incumbent 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;
• 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.
*If, for example, a region has four Tory MEPs and one is retiring, the college will decide if the three existing MEPs should continue to occupy the top three places on the list. If all three are allowed to continue all members will then decide the number 1, 2 or 3 ranking of each candidate. A woman must then be selected for slot four. All members will decide which candidates - of any gender - fill slots five and below.

OK. Lets take a look at these suggestions point by point.
Point 1.
Well, good enough as it stands, and could lead to a cull of the older members. Those who have made statements that would be hard to back down from include those likely to retire, the Rt Hon Sir Robert Atkins, Edward MacMillan Scott, The Hon James Elles, Caroline Jackson, Giles Chichester and John Purvis. Others deeply complicit in the current refusal to leave include Timothy Kirkhope, Struan Stevenson, Jonathan Evans, Richard Ashworth, Christopher Beazley, Malcolm Harbour, Phillip Bushill Mathews and Neil Parish. By my reckoning that will be 15 out of 27. Maybe Elles doesn’t want to retire, but if this rule is applied I cannot see him accepting the rule. To be fair to him he has never pretended to be anything other than who he is, unlike some of the others has always been honest about what he believes and should be respected. Others on this list will no doubt do whatever they are told, but my guess is that 2 or three will find this instruction very hard.
Point 2
This one stinks, the sitting members have had the previous X many years to set themselves up here, with the position, time – and taxpayer funded communications budget – to have set themselves fair here. When I worked for a Tory MEP my key role was to ensure that al Constituency Chairmen were invited over and looked after, I cannot think that this strategy has stopped. And the hell should they take the top spots on the list anyhow, the long list perhaps. Frankly if they haven’t done enough over the previous 4 years, then they obviously aren’t worth it.
Point 3
Good of them to allow the membership to reshuffle the chairs on the Titanic.
Point 4
Given point 1, we are looking at possibly 5 -7 current seats being handed on a plate to women. All the arguments about demeaning the individuals and the wrongness of discrimination, positive or otherwise can be filled in here.
Point 5
Gee thanks… Given that this is precisely the sort of contempt for the membership, that as I pointed out will drive away the Tory activist base, I would be surprised if the Tories hold the 27, let alone increase upon it.

One of the St George's crowd last night was able to confirm all of the above apart from the EPP aspect. This is really not good for the Tory membership, those who bother to vote will realise that this is a stich up to ensure that the old europhile MEPs maintain their featherbed lifestyle against the wishes of the membership. It will not go down well.

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