Continue reading this post to read an email from Don Porter, Chairman of the National Convention, to Regional Chairmen about the Party Board’s decision on the MEP selection process. The details are as we have already reported, although on a personal note he says that David Cameron is fully behind the decisions made and of Don’s efforts to "quieten down unhelpful noises from the sidelines" in the run-up to the local elections.
"The discussion was very thorough and every member of the Board was given the opportunity, by the Party Chairman, to shape the decision.
I will summarise the key points agreed under bullet points:
- A significantly expanded Regional Selection College (RSC) in each region will meet with the existing MEPs who wish to stand again. The RSC will be invited to give their opinion on whether each candidate has done sufficient to be considered to be a candidate again. Voting will be by secret ballot. This is a mirror image of the Westminster process involving the Executive Council. If a candidate gets 50% + 1 they will be a candidate on the incumbent ballot paper
- The RSC will sift applications from new candidates, conduct interviews and draw up a short list of new candidates to be ranked by their regional membership in a postal ballot
- On a separate ballot paper within the same posting, members will also be asked, where appropriate (more than 1 sitting MEP), to rank the incumbent MEP candidates
- The membership will be sent the details of all candidates standing, in a format to be agreed by the candidates committee in liaison with Caroline Abel-Smith
- In the exceptional circumstances faced at the next European Election that we could end up with no women MEPs, the Board agreed that beyond the stage of interviewing incumbent candidates the next most winnable place would be offered to the highest ranked woman candidate. We debated this issue for some considerable time and all agreed that there was no easy solution to this situation. Of the options available, this was the best in the opinion of the Board
- In the eventuality of an incumbent candidate not getting 50% + 1 at the RSC the candidate has the opportunity of inviting the members to rank them on the new candidate ballot paper
I know that the Party Chairman and the Leader together with Caroline Abel-Smith are fully behind the Board’s decision. They are also supporting me in asking you to do what ever you can to ensure that there are no unhelpful distractions in the run-up to next weeks local elections, and indeed beyond these elections, that take our eye off the objective of increasing our local government numbers and continuing to build our strength in order to win the next general election.
I am therefore asking you to help me quieten down unhelpful noises from the sidelines.
I would like to add a personal comment at the end of this factual statement.
I strongly believe that the new process fully involves the membership. Members will be asked to rank incumbent and new candidates. We will also have, in each region, a very representative Regional Selection College reflecting the whole spectrum of our activist base.
Our MEPs have increasingly worked effectively as a team. I know you will join me in wishing this harmony to continue. None of us wish to see a return to open warfare on the issue of Europe. I have the greatest respect for the commitment that Caroline Abel-Smith has given to bringing about progress to this stage. Having spoken with her this week, I know that she is pleased with the Board’s decision.
Please view this as my request for your urgent support."
Related link: It’s time for a new Party Board