Kirkhope’s Legacy

Following the amazing events of July 14th, when Yorkshire MEP Edward McMillan Scott tried to destabilise our new European Conservatives group by making a solo run for Vice President of the parliament, one of my colleagues posed a question: “What would a Yorkshire Constituency Chairman say about all this?  He and his members and activists have just worked their socks off to get EMS re-elected, and within a few weeks EMS is deliberately sabotaging the Conservatives’ new group”.  What indeed.
But one of the “achievements” of our delegation leader Timothy Kirkhope was to set up a re-selection system designed specifically to protect incumbents — and to insulate them from the judgement of their electorates.  Last year, the incumbents automatically went to the top of the list, like the scum on the jam, leaving new-comers to scrabble for largely unwinnable places lower down the list.  The process was designed to make incumbents less accountable.  This is in contrast to 2003, where incumbents got a free pass to the final selection meeting, but at that final selection meeting, they took their chances against all comers.
Incumbents ought to win in this situation: they’ve had five years to make an impression with the party in their region.  Any incumbent who fails to win in these circumstances simply doesn’t deserve another term.  And mostly they did win in 2003, though in a few cases, newcomers beat incumbents — for example, Richard Ashworth in the South East.
Of course we don’t know what would have happened under the old system if it had applied in 2008.  But it is at least possible that EMS (and indeed Kirkhope) might not have made winnable positions on the Yorkshire list.  Because of Kirkhope’s “jobs for the boys” system, a man like EMS, who holds views on Europe very different from most Conservative members and activists, was guaranteed re-selection.  And now we can see how he used that privilege to undermine the Party and the new group.
I hear the odd cynic saying : “But didn’t you benefit from the system yourself?”.  I did.  But I was denied the willing endorsement of East Midlands Conservatives, which I enjoyed in 1998 and 2003, and which I should have dearly liked to have in 2008.  I did benefit from Kirkhope’s system, but frankly I hated it, and would far have preferred to take my chances against all comers, and won on merit.

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2 Responses to Kirkhope’s Legacy

  1. Steve Hampson says:

    No worries roger you would have topped the East midlands Pole whatever system was in place. I hope that you continue to provide your colleagues with the benefit of your experience and keep in touch with us plebs who as you point out instinctively support your views and those of our new group

  2. James Deighton says:

    I have often said to anyone who would care to listen that the automatic reselection of our MEPs and their placing at the top of the regional lists was a terrible idea. With the fast approaching creation of the new group it was quite clear that the Europhile element within our ranks would not be happy. Thankfully some decided to step down at the election, but others such as EMS obviously had other ideas. They thought that it was their duty as “good Europeans” to try to destabilise, and ultimately to bring down the new EC group as it was a threat to the very idea of a federal Europe.

    Thankfully we look to have come through this debacle relatively unscathed and with a leader who seems to be the very embodiment of what we are trying to achieve as a group. If we are to make a success of this new grouping then it is clear that the majority of our future support and growth will come from the Eastern Europeans. They understand what living under an oppressive tyranny is like and they don’t want another one imposed on them after they spent the best part of half a centaury overthrowing the last one.

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