Resignation up-date

Rupert & RFH pictured in Brussels (together with Laura Valance of Dogs’ Trust)

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that back in October I announced my intention to resign from the European parliament effective December 31st.  What, then, am I doing still in place on January 5th, in the Happy New Year of 2012?  The simple facts are that (A) I was asked by our delegation leader, Martin Callanan, to stay through January, for some key votes in the Jan Straz session.  And (B), in the meantime, it seems that CCHQ have some administrative problems with the succession process, and naturally I want to see those resolved before I sign on the dotted line.

I am not by any means eager to give any more airing to the issues at CCHQ, but on the other hand I believe that the good people of the East Midlands — voters, Conservative Party members, regional media — are entitled to know what is happening with regard to their representation in Brussels.  Certainly I have had considerable interest from regional papers and radio stations.

In particular, I want to respond to some criticisms and misconceptions which have appeared on various blogs.  Guido Fawkes was disobliging enough to suggest that the basis of the request from the delegation leader was not very credible.  “Given that Helmer’s single vote is unlikely to be crucial at the talking shop that is the European Parliament and in any event Matthews is of a like mind to Helmer, this line isn’t completely convincing”.

I need to explain, Guido, that there is an “all-change” musical-chairs moment at the mid-point of the European parliament’s five-year term, when key positions from the Parliament President down are re-allocated, based on the famous d’Hondt head-count system.  So, quite literally, every head counts.  Now of course the transfer from an MEP to his successor in the case of a mid-term vacancy should in theory be seamless and instantaneous.  But in practice there can be delays, and if the vacancy I had proposed to create were unfilled during the Jan Straz week, it could make all the difference between getting a key committee chairmanship, and not getting it.

Personally, I have never taken any great interest in the allocation of glittering prizes in Brussels — one can campaign against the federalist farce better from the back benches — but I quite understand that the ECR Group is concerned about it, and I naturally want to help.  That was why I agreed to stay in January.

Another blogger suggested that I was now seeking to stay on for the sake of my MEP’s salary.  But in that case, why would I have offered to resign in the first place?

More seriously, it’s been suggested that I am engaged in special pleading on behalf of an old friend; that I am seeking to subvert the Party’s selection system; and most damagingly, that I regard my seat in Brussels as my personal fiefdom, and in my gift for whomever I choose to favour.  Nothing could be further from the truth — if anything, it’s CCHQ which is seeking to subvert the Party’s selection system.

I am not asking for any special favour for Rupert.  I am simply asking that the Party should keep to the established rules of the regional list PR system; that it should recognise the legitimacy of the status of the Next-in-Line on the list (as has been done in every single case of a mid-term vacancy since the regional list PR system was introduced); that it should respect the democratic decision of some 3000+ Conservative Party members in the 2008 postal selection ballot, and the democratic decision of a million East Midlands voters in the 2009 euro elections.

That said, at a personal level I should be very angry indeed if a loyal, long-term Conservative Party Member and activist, who has worked his socks off for the Party, not least in the 2009 euro-elections, and who has already missed out on a seat in Brussels because of the Party’s positive discrimination policy, should now miss out again because CCHQ can’t quite get its head around the regional list PR system, and seems inclined to set aside a legitimate democratic decision in favour of some modish prejudices.  I should be very angry, and so, I suspect, would a great number of East Midlands Conservatives.

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13 Responses to Resignation up-date

  1. Andrew Shakespeare says:

    When you do retire, Roger, will that also be the end of your blog?

    I hope not. I enjoy your commentaries and insights.

  2. Mike Spilligan says:

    May I reiterate Andrew Shakespeare’s question and comment?

  3. Wilson Boardman says:

    I echo Mr Shakespeare’s sentiments…
    I support your stance on the succession completely, stick to your guns Roger.
    You are pictured with a representative of the Dogs Trust (very decorative she is too… not that you and Rupert aren’t) but, are you aware of the obscene amount of money being spent on their new facility near Wymeswold? It is absolutely staggering, I won’t waste any more of my time or money supporting them.

  4. Faustiesblog says:

    Perhaps Guido would be good enough to publish an apology to you, Mr H, given that he’d expect the same from the media? 😉

  5. The problem with the selection process is that the Euripean Parliament is not democratic. The whole thing is a farce.

    • I agree with your sentiment, although I think that’s a problem with the parliament. And with the regional list PR system. Not necessarily with the selection system as such. However I would eliminate the incumbency guarantee and (for the future) the positive discrimination, which were features of the Conservative Party’s 2008 selection process. But hey, we have a new selection process every time. Keeps us on our toes.

  6. Rachel Watts says:

    Thanks for the update on the succession issue Roger.

    Seems like a no brainer to me – CCHQ should follow the rulebook and allow Rupert his rightful place!

  7. Ken says:

    Roger, there are no “established rules of the regional list PR system” that give the “Next-in-Line” the right to be nominated to replace a MEP who resigns. The European Parliament invites the Member State to fill a vacancy AFTER receiving the Member’s letter of resignation. The party of the resigned member can nominate anyone. There is no law or rule that requires it to nominate the Next-In-Line or anyone on the regional list. The party is not even obliged to nominate a candidate that stood in 2009.

    CCHQ has no “administrative problems with the succession process”. The succession process can only begin AFTER the European Parliament has received a letter of resignation. You have not resigned so there is no need for the European Parliament or CCHQ to take any action. The democratic decision of the party’s 3000+ members in the East Midlands is therefore not relevant at this point. According to the Parliament’s rules, they are not relevant after the day of the election.

    There is no way, in fact, that you can ensure that Rupert Matthews succeeds you if you choose to resign. It appears that you did not know (or check) the rules before announcing your intention to resign in October. You should not blame anyone but yourself for these “problems”. It is sad that the other posters on this thread appear to be equally ignorant of the rules. Your choice is simple – resign (and therefore take the risk that Rupert is not chosen as your successor) or stay on.

  8. Russellw says:

    Echo the above! Heard Rupert speak & very impressed – hope to hear you speak one of these days!

  9. Ian says:

    It is outrageous that both co-chairmen of the Conservative Party (Warsi and Feldman) should have so much power, when neither have been elected by the British people – they are both peers. Still, there is precedent – none of the European Commissioners were elected by anyone either. Roll on the “post-democratic society”… way!!!

  10. Julia Gasper says:

    Dear Mr Helmer,
    I agree with your view that the Conservative party has ignored the correct democratic proceedures in seeking to appoint a successor who is unelected. But looking at the whole of your spectrum of opinions, I must ask why you do not break with that weak, untrustworthy Coalition government that is cringing to dictatorship from Brussels? The longr you stay in the Conservatvie party, the more you are letting us be ruled by the likes of Herr Schultz. Please join UKIP. That would be consistent with everything that you are saying on this interesting blog!
    Yours ,
    Julia Gasper.
    You can read my blogs here!

  11. paul rimmer says:

    Roger,fellow Churchillian, I’ve only just discovered that you exist, what a pleasant surprise. A contemporary Tory who speaks straight from the hip common sense!I hope you don’t resign,especially if Warsi is going to pose another tedious Cameroon on us.

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