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Posts tagged with: European Parliament Elections

MyVote2014 – the European Parliament voting calculator based on data, not manifestos

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I’m very happy to be sat today at the launch event of MyVote2014, a new voting tool for the European Parliament elections 2014. I’ve been working with Michiel, Joan and Doru at VoteWatch Europe, the folks behind the site, to help them with some of the social media promotion of their tool. Yet while I am professionally involved with the project, I am also very committed – as a citizen – to making sure this tool works, and as many people as possible take the MyVote 2014 test.

The MyVote 2014 tool is the latest in a series of tools of this sort. I first worked on a EP voting tool in 2004, and similar tools existed in 2009, and similar tools have existed for national elections (Stemwijzer, Wahl-o-Mat etc.) but this time it’s different in one crucial way: MyVote 2014 uses data about MEPs have voted in the past (between 2009 and now to be precise), and uses this as the data for the tool. This makes the outcomes of the MyVote 2014 tool more solid than previous efforts. Rather than use aspirational manifestos, the tool is based on how politicians have actually voted, and hence should be more trustworthy. A political party may claim to be green, but if the data shows the opposite, the tool with reflect that.

The test is also available to take in 6 languages – English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish. You can now take the test here!

My result: I’m reasonably close to the S&D (which seems accurate enough)

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Labour’s EU vision in 5 points

roseI was at an event in Brussels this week where there was much discussion about Labour trying to find 5 points it could put on a pledge card during the 2014 European Parliament election campaign.

So, looking at what top politicians in the Labour Party have been saying about the EU over the last 12 months, what are the five clearest statements they could make?

  1. We don’t want an in-out referendum in the UK
  2. We don’t want any repatriation of powers
  3. We don’t want the Euro
  4. We don’t want a common foreign policy or an EU army
  5. We don’t want to increase the EU budget

Inspiring, eh? Who says Labour doesn’t have a vision for the EU?

[NOTE: this is not what Labour should say. It's more of a critique of how little vision the party has right now.]

An open letter to Gordon Pattison, Regional Director of East Midlands Labour

Dear Gordon,

I am writing to you to ask some questions about the European Parliament selection process conducted in your region. I have been accused by Jonathan Ashworth MP of making ‘cheap accusations‘ as a result of my blog entry about the selection of Nicki Brooks so I am writing to you to try to set the record straight. I am doing this in public, here on my blog, as it is in the interests of transparency of the process.

Two facts are clear at the outset. First is that Nicki Brooks was a member of the original selection committee. Second is that Nicki Brooks was selected as one of the candidates for East Midlands. This leaves a number of outstanding issues:

  1. Did Nicki Brooks submit an application to become a candidate by 1st January 2013, as all other candidates did?
  2. Was the decision taken to consider Nicki Brooks as a candidate taken before or after all other candidates had been interviewed? If it was the former, why was she still a member of the selection committee? If it was the latter, is that fair to other candidates interviewed?
  3. If, as has been suggested by a commenter on my blog, the nomination process was re-opened to allow Nicki Brooks to become a candidate, for how long was the process re-opened? And hence how many people knew that the process had been re-opened? What communication was made with party members to inform them that the process had been re-opened?
  4. Bearing in mind the gender balance requirements of the nomination process, how many men and how many women initially made applications (by 1st January) in East Midlands? And how many men and how many women were initially interviewed by the original selection committee?

Until these questions are answered adequately then major questions remain about the conduct of the selection process.

I look forward to your reply, which I trust will also be available publicly. Do feel free to write the response in the comments form below this post, or to e-mail it to me for publishing here.

Many thanks,

Jon Worth, 24.4.13

Online networking: we can shine the light on their malevolence, but we cannot be them

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 19.10.15It has been an interesting week. My posts about Labour’s MEP selections, and the panel member in the East Midlands, Nicki Brooks, who seems to have selected herself, have prompted all sorts of debate, comments, and e-mails sent to me. My blog even already ranks 6th in Google UK if you search for ‘Nicki Brooks‘, and people like Mark Pack, Patrick Wintour and Charlie Beckett have mentioned my digging on other blogs or on Twitter. Hence at one level it has been a super week for this blog.

But then what?

I still do not know exactly what happened in East Midlands. I have made a clear case – that Nicki Brooks selected herself – and I know there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who know about this claim. But I have been unable so far to get any sort of response, any sort of statement, about what actually happened, and since my blog entry was written, East Midlands Labour has even formally announced its candidates on its website.

In short, I seem to be able to shine the light on the malevolence of a politician, and make sure that thousands of people know about it (the Brooks and MEP selection blogs have received more than 3000 individual visitors combined, and that does not count the Twitter exposure), but I cannot actually find a way within the Labour Party to force some change in this case. It was suggested in the comments of my Progress piece on this issue that I should push for a rule change in the party. OK, but that does not deal with the fact that the rules this time, even as the rules are, do not seem to have been respected.

As the commenter ‘East Mids Observer’ remarks, that East Midlands has a questionable selection process is not anything new, only this time five years on more people know about the malevolence than did previously. The online networkers can hence seem to shine the light on the malevolence of individuals, but we cannot actually yet use online networking to foster new, fairer, more transparent relationships between party members and the senior people in the Labour Party.

The problem is essentially is that this whole episode further confirms the prevailing impression that politicians in traditional parties is a grubby business. In the meantime Nigel Farage tours the country, filling halls and styling himself as the honest man of British politics. Labour might manage for things to not blow up this time, might manage to ensure the whole thing blows over. But unless the mainstream parties manage to find ways to inspire their own people, motivate their own members, and respect their own rules, then the seepage of legitimacy to the populists will only continue. And we will all be worse off as that continues to happen.

Right then, Nicki Brooks, Labour candidate for MEP in the East Midlands: what did you do?

09:05 on 9th April, this comment appeared in response to my blog post about Labour MEP selections, by a chap called Joseph who also did not leave a valid e-mail address and is hence untraceable:

Hi Jon, Interesting selections from Labour again ….. In the East Midlands Nikki Brookes was originally part of the selecting process (@NickiBrooksx see tweet 16Feb) she must have selected herself!! (original comment is here)

I investigated this issue and, sure enough, there were two tweets from @NickiBrooksx dated 16th February that seemed to show she had sat all day on the selection panel. I linked to those tweets here. I was also even decent enough to try to give Nicki a chance to reply, having tweeted this to her, also on 9th April. That tweet received no reply, nor to the tweet I wrote to Johanna Baxter and Ellie Reeves, NEC members, that you can find here.

Anyway, what has happened this evening? The offending tweets… have been deleted.

Well that was clever, wasn’t it. Because of course I have kept a screenshot to confirm what Nicki Brooks wrote:

Yes, that’s the same Nicki Brooks who is listed as one of Labour’s candidates in East Midlands Region. Someone who was on the selection panel who seems to have selected… herself. And then deleted the tweets. Well done. Ever heard of the Streisand effect, Nicki and East Midlands Region?

[UPDATE: in my haste to get the blog entry out, the last paragraph originally read 'Eastern' and should have read 'East Midlands'. Now corrected!]

[UPDATE 2: following tweets with Sunny Hundal, apparently the blog entry is not clear enough. We know that Nicki Brooks was a member of the selection panel in East Midlands. We know that panel chose her as a candidate. We do not know if she submitted an application to be a MEP prior to the January deadline as all candidates were supposed to do. We do not know what the rationale was for why the panel, that she sat on, chose her.]

Labour’s MEP lists. I’m angry and disappointed.

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 23.25.20So, as reported on LabourList earlier, Labour’s MEP lists are now out, and I am angry and disappointed by the outcome. The full list of names, together with one line bios, website links, and Twitter usernames can be found at the end of this post, and there is a Twitter list as well here. Any errors and omissions are mine – please do comment or contact me if you want the table updated – updates will be added to the blog post, and the time of update indicated. The next stages in the selection process are explained in the LabourList piece.

But anyway, to the matter in hand: the people who have made it onto the lists.

First of all I am absolutely astounded to see the names of two former MEPs on the lists – Neena Gill for the West Midlands, and Glyn Ford for the South West. Neena’s record as a MEP in two terms (1999-2009) was not good – I worked as her Assistant for a period, and I can vouch for her incompetence. Why should she return? Glyn was a bit more effective, but he was a MEP from 1984 until 2009 – is 25 years serving in the European Parliament not enough? I am more optimistic about the return of Richard Corbett – no-one knows more about the functioning of the European Parliament than Richard does. He’s a committed European through and through, and while it would be good to see new people in the EP as well, Labour needs people like Richard.

Secondly there are a few startling omissions from the lists. I’ve already blogged about Anne Fairweather’s surprising omission, but I am surprised to not see Kevin Peel‘s name listed anywhere. I am also told that Carole Tongue sought a return to the EP but was not listed either. It also seems that in the South West there’s brewing anger that Razvan Constantinescu was not listed. I’m also surprised to not see Rupa Huq or Sally Prentice listed in London, having assumed (without knowing for sure) that they would be candidates. It strikes me that some names were deliberately eliminated in order to give some candidates a more or less free run, and the number of candidates with very heavy trade union links is notable, while the number with considerable EU experience is rather fewer. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Kevin Peel and Rupa Huq are listed as reserves, in North West and London respectively.

Thirdly, there are some welcome new names on the lists. I’m very happy to see Hadleigh Roberts listed in the South West. I’ve never met him, but his thoughtful discussion of EU matters on blogs and Twitter gives a very good impression. I’ve also met Kevin Doran a number of times over the years in Brussels – he has the knowledge and skills to make an excellent MEP. Rory Palmer and Judith Kirton-Darling give good impressions in their presence online, while Del Singh and John Howarth seem slightly atypical political characters and their presence seems welcome. I know Anneliese Dodds from student politics, and I know both her ethics and abilities are good. People I trust think highly of Clare Moody. Andrea Biondi, an EU law professor and former candidate for the Italian Partito Democratico could turn out to be genius or problematic.

Fourthly, compiling the list below proved to be more complicated than I had expected. Very few candidates have websites, and while more are on Twitter, a number are simply not Googleable. OK, I know it is about activity on the ground, but when it comes to party members choosing the order of candidates on lists then many will be doing exactly what I did – trying to work out what these people are about. Often it is very hard to know.

In the end all of this leaves a very sour taste for me. It might seem fine to do some sort of stitch up, to deny party members the very best candidates by eliminating strong people at the shortlisting stage. But, as David Hallam comments here, this means the process is not seen to be legitimate by party members, and they will be less inclined to campaign. Further if Labour ends up with weaker MEPs as a result that only plays into the hands of the EU-sceptics and the intergovernmentalists. It is not as if the European Parliament has a lot of friends in the UK as it is. A stitch up now leaves us all worse off later.

Name Web Twitter

— East Midlands —

Glenis Wilmott (sitting) http://gleniswillmott.eu @gleniswillmott
Nicki Brooks - @NickiBrooksx
Labour Gedling Borough Cllr & Chief Whip
Khalid Hadadi - -
European Affairs Manager for Channel 4 in Brussels?
Rory Palmer http://rorypalmer.org @Rory_Palmer
Deputy City Mayor, Leicester; Cllr for Eyres Monsell; NPF rep
Linda Woodings - @LindaWoodings
Political Officer for the CWU in the East Midlands

— Eastern —

Richard Howitt (sitting) http://www.richardhowittmep.com/ @richardhowitt
Naseem Ayub - -
Labour Councillor in Biscot Ward, Luton
Bhavna Joshi http://www.votejoshi.com/ -
Previously Wandsworth Borough Councillor and Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, and Regeneration & Transport.
Alex Mayer - @alexlmayer
Member of Labour’s NPF
Paul Bishop - -
Can’t work out how this is… Googling ‘Paul Bishop Labour’ gives nothing relevant. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Labour candidate in South Suffolk in 1997.
Sandy Martin - @sandyofipswich
Leader Suffolk County Labour Group
Chris Ostrowski - -
Former Labour PPC in Norwich North (2009)

— London —

Mary Honeyball (sitting) http://thehoneyballbuzz.com/ @maryhoneyball
Claude Moraes (sitting) http://www.claudemoraes.com/ @ClaudeMoraesMEP
Sanchia Alasia http://sanchiaalasia.com/ @sanchia46
Labour Councillor for Barking & Dagenham
Lucy Anderson - @Lucy4MEP
Member of Labour’s NPF
Ivana Bartoletti http://www.ivanabartoletti.co.uk/ @ivanabartoletti
Deputy Director of the Fabian Women’s Network
Andrea Biondi http://www.andreabiondi.eu/ @AndreaBiondiUK
Professor of European Union Law at King’s College London
Seb Dance - @SebDance
Former SpAd to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. [UPDATE: 9.4.13, 2350]: Now working as Government Relations Adviser at ActionAid UK
Kamaljeet Jandu http://www.kamaljeetjandu.org.uk @KamaljeetJandu
GMB National Officer for Equality [UPDATE 11.4.13, 0720: web link added]

— North East —

Judith Kirton-Darling http://www.judeforthenortheast.org.uk/ @Jude_KD
European TUC Confederal Secretary [UPDATE 9.4.13, 2340]: web link added
Jayne Shotton http://jayneshotton.wordpress.com/ @jshttn
“Trade union organiser” [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Councillor in North Tyneside until 2010.
Paul Brannen - -
Head of Advocacy and Influence at Christian Aid
Nick Wallis http://darlingtoncouncillor.blogspot.de/ @cllrnickwallis
Labour Councillor for Haughton West ward, Darlington. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Was on Labour’s list in the North East in 2009.

— North West —

Arlene McCarthy (sitting) http://www.arlenemccarthy.labour.co.uk/ @EuroMP_ArleneMc
Steve Carter - @SteveCarter001
Leader of Macclesfield Borough Council Labour group
Kevin Doran - @ResEuropa
Managing Director of Grayling Belgium’s EU public affairs team [UPDATE 9.4.13, 0030]: Kevin has now left Grayling, and is working independently in the North West. He has a new Twitter account for the campaign too – @KevinDoranEU
Theresa Griffin - @TheresaG_EU
National Policy Forum rep. Member of UNITE. Work for UNISON. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Was on Labour’s list in the North West in both 2004 and 2009.
Afzal Khan - @cllrakhan
Labour Councillor and former Lord Mayor of Manchester.
Wajid Khan - @wajid4europe
Daneshouse with Stoneyholme Ward in Burnley
Pascale Lamb - @PascaleLamb
No info to be found… [UPDATE 9.4.13, 0020]: she is listed as Catherine Stihler’s parliamentary assistant
Angeliki Stogia http://www.angeliki4eu.org/ @Angeliki4eu
Councillor in Whalley Range Ward, Manchester [UPDATE 15.4.13: Web link added]
Julie Ward - -
No idea… Not found anyone on Google.

— South East —

Anneliese Dodds http://www.anneliesedodds.org.uk/ @AnnelieseDodds
Former Labour PPC for Reading East [UPDATE 10.4.13, 1110]: Twitter & web link added
Maggie Hughes - @EUMaggie_Hughes
Victims’ rights campaigner in Europe. Active trade unionist
Karen Landles - @karenlandles
Former Guildford PPC [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Is on the NPF.
Farah Nazeer http://farahnazeerlabour.com/ @FarahNazeer
Labour Councillor in Newham, London, and Director of External Affairs at the Motor Neurone Disease Association [NOTE: biog and web link updated 9.4.13 at 1040]
Emily Westley - @emilywestley
Labour councillor in Hastings & Rye
Phil Bloomer - @pbloomer
Campaigns and Policy Director for Oxfam
John Howarth http://www.johnhowarth.com/ @JohnHowarth1958
Businessman, strategist, journalist (food, fun, travel, politics), musician
Del Singh http://delsingh.com/ @DelDSingh
International Development Advisor, Board Member Care International UK
James Swindlehurst - -
Labour Councillor in Slough
James Watkins - @watkins_js
No idea what he does [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Seems he’s on the Exec of Labour Movement for Europe, although LME’s website has not been updated to say so

— South West —

Clare Moody http://claremoody.org/ @ClareMMoody
Labour Candidate for Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012
Ann Reeder - -
LGiU (Local Government Information Unit) and South West Councils
Jude Robinson http://juderobinson.wordpress.com/ @Juderobinson
Labour & Coop Cornwall Councillor for Camborne North
Junab Ali - -
Swindon Councillor
Glyn Ford - -
Former MEP, consultant at G Plus Europe
Hadleigh Roberts http://hadleighroberts.com/ @HadleighRoberts
Translator and interpreter, French politics specialist

— West Midlands —

Claire Edwards - -
Councillor in Rugby
Neena Gill - @MEPNeenaGill
Former MEP
Olwen Hamer - @OlwenHamer
Councillor in Stoke on Trent
Lynda Waltho - @Lyndyluv
account locked)
Former MP for Stourbridge (2005-2010)
Ansar Ali-Khan - @ansar_ali_khan
Councillor in Birmingham
Anthony Ethapemi - -
Lawyer in Harrow, North London
Sion Simon http://www.sion-simon.org.uk/ @sionsimon
Former MP for Birmingham Erdington

— Yorkshire & the Humber —

Linda McAvan (sitting) http://www.lindamcavanmep.org.uk/ @LindaMcAvanMEP
Richard Corbett http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/ @richardcorbett
Former MEP, currently member of Herman van Rompuy’s cabinet
Darren Hughes http://www.darrenjlhughes.com/ @darrenjlhughes
Labour/Coop Party. Chairman of Shield HIV and Rush House Ltd. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Previously a Councillor in Rotherham and previously a member of the Conservative Party.
Asghar Khan - @asgharlab
Member of Leeds City Council
Helen Mirfin-Boukouris - @MirfinBoukouris
Member of Sheffield City Council
Tracey Simpson-Lang - -
Councillor in York
Eleanor Tunnicliffe - @ejtunnicliffe
Lawyer at DAC Beachcroft. [UPDATE 9.4.13, 1100]: Labour candidate in Richmond Park in 2010

— Scotland —

David Martin (sitting) http://www.martinmep.com/ @davidmartinmep
Catherine Stihler (sitting) http://www.cstihlermep.com/ @C_Stihler_MEP
Asim Khan - -
No details found
Derek Munn - -
Former SpAd, now Director of Policy & Public Affairs at the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists
Katrina Murray - @katrinamurray71
Trade unionist, Labour Party activist, NHS worker
Kirsty O’Brien - @Coisty_OB
Freelance public affairs & campaigns consultant, previously Head of Policy at Labour Party

— Wales —

Derek Vaughan (sitting) http://www.derekvaughanmep.org.uk/ @derekvaughan
Jayne Bryant http://jaynebryant.wordpress.com/ @JBryantWales
Labour member in Newport
Christina Rees - @ChrisForArfon
Councillor in Porthcawl
Alex Thomas - -
Councillor on Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

NOTE: for the sake of complete transparency. No candidate has asked me to write this post. The views within it are mine, and mine alone. I know Anne Fairweather, Richard Corbett and Kevin Doran reasonably well. I have met Glyn Ford, Sanchia Alasia and Lucy Anderson, and worked for Neena Gill. I knew Anneliese Dodds in student politics. I also know a number of the sitting MEPs (although this post is not about them). I regularly exchange tweets with, but have not met, Kevin Peel and Hadleigh Roberts.

Anne Fairweather is not a Labour MEP candidate for London. What is going on?

Anne Fairweather campaigning in 2009 - source http://lgbtlabour.org.uk/uploads/4bfc5cc8-e3d6-56f4-9598-79589e4a9d48.jpgI suppose I should have had my suspicious that all would not be right with the selection process for Labour’s new MEP candidates when the initial information about the process was so thin. So it’s with considerable sadness and annoyance that it now turns out that one of the very best candidates Labour could have had for the EP elections in London – Anne Fairweather – has not even been interviewed for the long list for the selection, so will not make it onto Labour’s list at all in 2014. This is an astounding decision before Labour Party members have even had a say.

Anne was selected in third position for the 2009 EP elections, the first non-elected position behind the two sitting Labour MEPs Claude Moraes and Mary Honeyball. Anne’s campaign that time, then as an unknown new candidate, owed everything to her personal commitment and determination, and her effort to speak to Labour Party members about EU matters. She topped the ballot of members to decide the order on the list, with more than 3000 personal votes. Since 2009 Anne’s efforts in Labour politics, as far as I can tell from afar anyway, have only increased – at least if stories of campaigning from Twitter and Facebook are anything to go by.

So what happened?

Essentially the long list of candidates – the same number of candidates as there are MEP seats to be allocated in a region (8 in London’s case) – is decided by a committee in London Labour Party. It’s next to impossible to deselect a sitting MEP, so Moraes and Honeyball are back on the list anyway, together with 6 further candidates. Anne – placed 3rd overall last time and most popular among members, and more experienced and committed now than then – was not even deemed worth interviewing to be one of those 6 candidates. Why?

As former MEP David Hallam has said on Facebook “From around the country I am hearing Labour Party members becoming concerned that this process is now so discredited that there will be little appetitie to support candidates chosen in such a way.” Too right. And I’d really like to hear the reasons why Anne was not even interviewed to be on the long list of candidates. OK, if you dislike her politics then beat her in a fair fight, or at least let the members decide. But I find not including her on the long list quite astounding.

[NOTE: Anne is a friend of mine - I first met her more than a decade ago in Brussels, and we meet from time to time. Hence I may not be altogether objective. If anyone has good reasons to not include her on the long list then please do comment below]

The counterfactual

A month ago I announced publicly that I no longer had any intention of putting my name forward for the European Parliament election list for Labour. I made the right call, and nothing that has happened since then makes me in any way question my decision. But now, a month on, I publish below the blog entry I wrote on the very same day as “I give up” giving the alternative point of view. Don’t cringe too much due to the idealism!


“Be the change you want to see in the world” said Gandhi.

So here – in a very small way – is my answer.

Wherever you look there are immense political and economic challenges. The European Union is caught between economic stagnation and a lack of democratic legitimacy. In the UK while the Labour Party continues to rebound, abstention and cynicism about politics abounds, while the populist appeal of direct democracy is an ever-present. In this context the change I want to see in the world – in London, in the UK, and in the EU – is the reassertion of the values of social democracy and of representative democracy, the resurgence of good and clean government, and the renewal of trust in politics.

So how can I be that change?

Having followed EU politics for a decade and having first joined the Labour Party in 1996 I have plenty of experience seeing what does not work just now, and in some small way want to set out to fix some of the shortcomings. I hence intend to put my name forward for Labour’s list for London for the European Parliament elections; the selection process starts this autumn. I do not embark on this process with great hope, but at least some of the issues that are important for representative democracy at EU level can possibly be aired during the selection process.

The central question in representative democracy is trust, and what to do about its decline.

Why then should you trust me? You shouldn’t. Or at least I do not have the means here and now to demonstrate that you should trust me. What I do have is an assertion of my values, underlined over the years in what I have written on this blog, namely the need for the EU to endure, for it to become more efficient, more democratic and more equal. The values of social democracy asserted at EU level.

Beyond that I commit to complete openness in my conduct, so anyone can see how I put those values into practice. I will list every meeting I have during the selection process, and how I raise all my campaign finance. All speeches or presentations I give will be available online. I will use a wiki to crowd-source contributions to my candidate selection statement. If I am successful these commitments will continue – complete openness about my conduct as a candidate, and eventually perhaps as a MEP. It will then be for every individual to determine whether I live up to my values, whether I have earned their trust.

The internet is the best tool yet invented for mass collaboration and feedback but in the Labour Party and indeed in EU politics we have only begun to understand how the internet can transform citizen engagement with the political system. The starting point must always be to consult, to trust the wisdom of the people, to collaboratively work to solve our common problems. From the ACTA protests to Hugh’s Fish Fight we are not lacking examples of citizen engagement in EU decision making – these need to be the norm, not the exception.

So that is the change I want to see in the world – a more transparent, democratic and socially responsible EU – and I am putting myself forward for Labour’s EP list for London for 2014 as a small step towards those ends. Will you join me?


Note: this is a counterfactual. As with the original “I give up” comments are closed.