How well does this semi-parodic catchphrase used by some CCHQers match up when it comes to Party democracy? Charles Moore in this week’s Spectator:
"Meanwhile, the Conservative party continues its devotion to openness, localism and modernised democracy in everything except its own organisation. The party has a little-known body called the National European Forum which has come up with a plan to deny party members the right to choose their candidates for the European Parliament. It wants ‘regional selection colleges’ (dominated, naturally, by Europhiles) to vet existing MEPs before they can stay on the list of candidates for the next elections. All new candidates would be nominated by the central party organisation. The current system of regional hustings would be abolished, and so ‘one member, one vote’, a quite widely known democratic concept, but one which has had only a brief and fragile life in the Conservative party, would be no more."
"They should face a vote in which all Tory members in their European Parliamentary regions can participate."
Aside from the party democracy issue, underlying this debate is a battle for the soul of the Conservative delegation in Brussels – the closer the MEPs are to Party members, the more eurosceptic they will be.
A number of MEPs gave their opinions to ConservativeHome on this important internal issue back in January (to the great displeasure of certain people). Also worth reading are the thoughts of Francis Maude and Chris Heaton-Harris MEP on which there are many comments, and Tim Montgomerie’s recent (and as yet unreplied to) open letter to David Cameron urging intervention.
5pm update – The press office have acknowledged the open letter:
"At the moment we have nothing to announce in this area but we will certainly make sure that you are included in any briefing when we have something to report."