How long should elected politicians serve? It’s a perennial issue for all levels of government. I’m not in favour of fixed terms of office – that’s for the individuals concerned and especially for the parties themselves to decide. While the rest of the Labour Party is getting worked up by selections for Westminster, I would instead like to turn to the issue of Labour’s representation in the European Parliament and how long the members have been there. With the next election in 2009, selections for the regional list system will be kicking off in 2008.
As the list below shows, the most common starting date for UK Labour MEPs was 1994, and there have only been 2 MEPs (Mary Honeyball and Glenis Wilmott) that have started in the EP this decade. Essentially there is a serious lack of new blood. Beyond that there are 3 MEPs – Ford, Hughes and Martin – that will mark their quarter-centuries in the EP at the 2009 elections.
CASHMAN, Michael – since 1999
CORBETT, Richard – since 1996
EVANS, Robert – since 1994
FORD, Glyn – since 1984
GILL, Neena – since 1999
HONEYBALL, Mary – since 2000
HOWITT, Richard – since 1994
HUGHES, Stephen – since 1984
KINNOCK, Glenys – since 1994
McAVAN, Linda – since 1998
McCARTHY, Arlene – since 1994
MARTIN, David – since 1984
MORAES, Claude – since 1999
MORGAN, Eluned – since 1994
SIMPSON, Brian – since 1989 (not in the EP 2004-2006)
SKINNER, Peter – since 1994
STIHLER, Catherine – since 1999
TITLEY, Gary – since 1989
WILLMOTT, Glenis – since 2006
So what are the prospects for things changing? With the list system favouring incumbents so strongly, any of these MEPs must fancy their chances of being returned to Brussels once more, especially if the 2009 elections and the UK general election coincide and turnout is boosted. In regions where Labour will almost certainly get at least 2 MEPs in the medium term (London, Yorks / Humber, West Midlands for example) cementing a place as number 1 on the list gives a MEP a job for as long as the individual wants it.
Let’s at least hope for some bright and dynamic candidates that might make the selection process a bit more interesting, and start to inject some new ideas into the EPLP. It would be even better if some candidates could be radical in their use of the internet as implied over at Public Affairs 2.0 – although I’m sure plenty of Labour candidates can do a lot better with their websites than the Lib Dem they reference there, and I’m ready to help people with the internet tech where possible.
That’s not stopped many of the people I currently see hold prestigious elected postions!!!! 🙂
Hmmm. I don’t reckon anyone would take me seriously as a MEP candidate.
(1) I’ve not held elected positions in Labour before, and that’s almost always the starting point
(2) My views on EU questions are not always the same as those of the party
(3) I’m not sure I deliver enough leaflets and do enough tedious work for the party
That should have read, “I cannot understand why people donâ€™t think itâ€™s as worthy or exciting as being an MP”…..
Excellent post, Jon. Like you I can’t understand why people think Westminster is the ‘be all and end all’ of UK political life. The European Union is our country’s present and future and I cannot understand why people don’t think it’s as worthy or exciting as being an MEP – being an MP is NOT exciting!!! As for lack of new blood, I personally think that you would have made an excellent candidate for the next set of elections in 2009. If you weren’t moving back to Brussels I would be pestering you to stand for the London list!!!! xx