Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Selecting the Candidate

Today may be a crucial day in the selection of the candidates for November's presidential election. Procedures for candidate selection can differ considerably according to the post being filled; the country; the party - and many other factors.

Currently in the East Midlands (and in other regions in the UK) the Labour Party is in the middle of its process for choosing its candidates for the European Parliament elections due in June 2009.

As one of those candidates, can I outline the procedure.

Labour Party members can apply to be a member of the National Parliamentary Panel. Before a person can be selected as a candidate for the Westminster or European elections, they must have been approved to be on the panel. Interviews are conducted - not to assess the person's ideological position - but to assure the Party that the person has sufficient knowledge about the work they aspire to undertake and are suitable to be an MP or MEP.

Members of the panel were invited to apply for consideration as potential MEPs, and the party in each region drew up a long list for interviews. These involved both a presentation by the aspiring candidate and quick fire questionning by a selection panel. From this the final list of candidates was drawn up.

All Labour Party members in the region have the opportunity to rank the candidates in order of preference. This is being done by a postal ballot. For most regions the count will be undertaken this weekend. [In the East Midlands ballots must be returned by Friday - and these will be verified and counted in Regional Office - with the candidates and their representatives present - on Sunday]. In my region there are five seats up for election in 2009. Voters will select their favoured party and seats allocated in proportion to the number of votes gained by each party. So, if Labour got around 60% of all votes it would get 3 seats (subject to some complex maths to deal with results that don't neatly reach exactly a multiple of 20) - and the top three names on Labour's five person list would become MEPs for the East Midlands.

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