23 April 2013

Now we must get behind Labour's MEP candidates.

First, the self-indulgent admission of interest. You are probably aware of the controversies surrounding Labour's selection of those who are going forward to regional member ballots to decide the lists for next year's European Parliament elections. Jon Worth and Peter Watt have best charted the issues. National and local press, and the rest of the blogosphere, have also covered (£) it extensively.

I, too, was one of those whose application was deemed not to merit even an interview (hyperlink to a mournful violent lament). I hadn't otherwise been interested in elected office since student politics days. But, with increasing talk in the Party of a desire to see people with certain, less obvious career and life experiences* as candidates, I thought I'd roll the dice in the MEP selection process.

Now we can all moan jusqu'aux les vaches reviennent (as I believe our European partners would say) but I believe that the most important thing to do is now get behind those that have been selected for selection, as it were. It is not as if the people in question aren't qualified, after all. And I'm sure that they are as uneasy about the selection process as the rest of us. No one wants to be thought of as having succeeded due to special favours.

To help me decide how I'll exercise my member's vote in London, I'll be asking  the candidates a set of questions which I believe will clarify their positions on some of the key issues - and potentially head-off any future selections controversy. I will be publishing their responses on this blog.


1. The biggest challenge faced by the European project this year has been the Cypriot banking crisis. What is your assessment of the measures put in place by the so-called 'troika' to deal with this and what lessons have been learnt should similar crises arise in comparable euro-denominated economies?

2. A longer term challenge is that of reducing carbon emissions. It has been claimed that the cap and trade Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has been undermined by the European Parliament's recent failure to agree to the 'backloading' of credits. In such a scheme, do you believe the 'cap' or the 'trade' feature to be the more important? Has the ETS reflected this importance? If not, what reforms or alternatives for regulating the use of carbon would you support?

3. A growing pan-European economy is dependent upon the flow, exchange and exploitation of information. This whole opportunity is becoming better known as 'Big Data'. What are the threats to this from EU legislation concerning data? How do we balance the potential for businesses and consumers with the need to protect privacy and maintain member nations' national security infrastructures?

4. Although no fault of any of those selected, it has become increasingly clear that the selection processes for the regional lists was unsatisfactory. In London, only 100 or so applications were made. For a job that has 8 vacancies and is worth a six figure annual salary, that's astonishingly low and points towards a lack of communication and promotion to the regional membership. How would you rectify this for the 2019 process? Whatever the numbers of members interested, is a pre-selection for selection necessary at all? Given modern campaigning and communications techniques, are short-lists for a regional list necessary at all? How could the regional party better facilitate the participation of more than eight people in the selection for 2019?

I'll look forward to publishing their answers here.

*Military, in my case. Though admittedly, there's no surprises on my CV, otherwise.