ConservativeHome has learnt that there is another hugely controversial dimension to the proposed changes to European candidate selection. In order to address the fact that there is currently only one woman MEP – Caroline Jackson – the National European Forum has proposed a mechanism that will effectively mean that every MEP that is standing down will be replaced by a woman candidate. This way of filling vacant slots will be the first example of an all-women shortlist in the history of the Conservative Party.
In summary what is being proposed is:
(1) Ordinary members lose their decisive say on MEP candidate selection;
(2) Incumbent MEPs – many of them unsupportive of David Cameron’s pledge to leave the EPP – will be kept at the top of regional lists if a committee of party appointees and Association Chairmen agree;
(3) All retiring MEPs can only be replaced by women;
(4) Lower slots on the regional lists will be decided by all members.
Editor’s comment: "The Party Board votes on these proposals on Monday. My prediction is that they will reject the all-women shortlist but keep the dilution of democracy. This will be presented as a compromise and a sign of a "listening Board." In truth it will be another sign that the Board is a servant of the leadership, rather than a reliable protector of the grassroots’ freedoms."