At a 1922 Committee meeting of about twenty Tory MPs last night Gerald Howarth MP raised the issue of MEP selection.  He and others expressed their disappointment at the leadership’s acquiescence in plans to protect incumbent MEPs by stripping rank-and-file members of their current say in ranking all MEP candidates.  One of the MPs’ representatives on the party board said that he had not even seen the proposals and concerns were expressed that Board members would be railroaded into adopting the dilution of party democracy without the proposals being subject to proper scrutiny.  One MP said that any decision to protect many of the existing MEPs would amount to a reward for disloyalty.

Meanwhile Greg Hands MP has written to all Conservative Way Forward members urging them to protest at CCHQ’s latest attempt to disenfranchise party members:

"The next meeting of the Party Board will decide how to select Conservative MEP candidates in advance of the 2009 European election. On the last two occasions, all party members were allowed to participate in hustings meetings. It is now being proposed by the National European Forum that this power should be concentrated in the hands of regional sub-committees, composed of Association Chairmen and possibly also Area Officers.  This could result in the decision that the entire membership has taken being overturned by a small number of party officials. CWF has always advocated a role for the ordinary party member, and we hope you will join us in restisting the loss of this democratic right."

Greg urges CWF members to lobby the ‘grassroots representatives’ on the Board before their Monday 23rd April meeting: Jeremy Middleton (, Emma Pidding ( and Charles Barwell (

Related link: Five reasons why members should retain the right to rank MEPs.

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