Diana Wallis, who failed just this week in her bid to become the new President of the European parliament, has thrown her toys out of her pram — or at least (I understand on good authority) has resigned. Unlike me, she just did it, without further discussion.
Both she and our own Nirj Deva sought to break the “Buggins’ Turn” system in the parliament where the big groups stitch up the Presidency for the full five years. Sadly, both failed, and it went to the “official” socialist candidate, the aggressive and unpleasant German Martin Schultz (whom Silvio Berlusconi suggested would make a great Nazi Camp Commandant).
Amusingly, the Independent newspaper, writing about the contest beforehand, reckoned that Diana should do reasonably well, but argued that Nirj Deva, as a British Conservative Eurosceptic, stood no chance at all.
In the event, Nirj pipped Diane to second place, albeit by the narrowest margin, with 142 votes to her 141. This, perhaps, was the final straw that broke the Wallis back, but for whatever reason, the word today is that she has quit. It is rumoured that she had rather burnt her boats with her Liberal group, and after her recent term as a Vice-President of the parliament, could not face the humiliation of returning to the back-benches amongst a group where she is by no means flavour of the month.
So this raises the question of succession (one which I find interesting and topical). It seems that the second candidate on the Yorkshire Lib-Dem list in 2009, behind Diana, was a chap called Stewart Arnold. Three things you might like to know about Mr. Arnold. The first is that he is currently on Diana’s staff. The second, that he is (despite the surname), the husband of Lib-Dem MEP …. Diana Wallis. And third, based on hearsay in the corridor, he’s not that highly rated by other Liberal MEPs.
Ho hum. I wonder if the Lib-Dem High Command will “do a Warsi”, and have second thoughts about the succession?