I was reading some of the comments on Conservative Home (it was quiet night) about Edward McMillan-Scott being expelled from the Conservative Party and noticed that many were demanding that he should resign as an MEP. The reasoning behind this is that he was elected as a Conservative MEP from the party list, and as he is no longer a member of the Conservative Party he doesn’t have the right to continue as an MEP.

Now, I’ll admit to the usual politician’s bias on this issue – if someone defects to my party, they’re doing it as a matter of principle and are committed to representing the people they represent, if they defect from it, they’re obviously shallow, venal, betraying the voters and should resign forthwith – but I’m not convinced that McMillan-Scott should resign in this case.

I’m going to try and stick to general principles here, rather than getting bogged down in the specifics of the case, but I would agree that when a person is elected on a party list, there’s a strong case that that person should be obliged to stand down should they choose to leave the party they were elected for. Perhaps not in all cases – if the party has genuinely changed from what it was when the election took place, or personal popularity had a strong effect on the vote, for instance – but in general, it would seem to me to be fair that if a person had been elected by the efforts of a party to be the representative of that party, they’re obliged to remain a member of that party if they want to keep their position.

However – and the important question in this case – is someone necessarily obliged to resign their position if their party has rejected them, rather than them rejecting their party, especially if their political position hasn’t changed, as I’m sure McMillan-Scott would argue his hasn’t? (This is assuming the old ‘I didn’t leave the party, the party left me’ to be true for once) Is it fair to allow for the dominance of the party over the individual to such an extent, even if the party list system does assume this to be case? (Is it just another argument against closed-list systems? Especially as McMillan-Scott doesn’t have the option to take this to the voters, should he so choose)

To me, the whole issue of whether defection or deselection should prompt resignation or re-election is a very large grey area regardless of the voting system – though perhaps not in STV – so I’ll throw this one open to any passing commenter for their thoughts, with apologies for any wooliness in mine as it is quite late as I’m finishing this off.

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5 comments untill now

  1. Dave Weeden @ 2009-09-16 08:29

    He’s the guy who opposed Michal Kaminski — far right wing Polish nutter who thinks ‘the Jews’ (collectively) should apologise for fighting Poles in WWII and, needless to say, hates gays too. I think his only point of contact with Cameron’s Conservatives is that he’s against Muslims. Shorter Kaminski: if it’s different, he’s for its extermination. There are a lot of anti-Fascist blowhards around (see Harry’s Place, etc); McMillan-Scott at least acted out of real principle.

  2. Neil craig @ 2009-09-16 17:39

    Presumably he was re-elected at the recent EU-election. In that election the party was very firmly committed to the new group & so he was too. He was fired for voting against the europarty he was part of which is a proper reason for rejection.

    I take your point about people who leave because the party has changed. I have the particular honour of not having left but been expelled because the LibDems specificaly decided that being a liberal was “incompatible with party membership”.

    What is your opinion about a party which, having rejected the philosophy of liberalism keeps using the name?

  3. #2 – his justification for leaving was that at the time of the European elections, it hadn’t been confirmed that the Law and Justice Party would join the ECR. At that point (so I understand) the only other party committed to joining the Tories’ new group were the Czech Civic Democrats.

    So he could reasonably argue that the ECR as created was a different entity to the group which the Tories had pledged to create, owing to the presence of the somewhat unpleasant L&JP with unpleasant characters like Kaminski in it.

    Things have certainly come to a pretty pass in the ‘moderate’ Cameronian Conservative Party when Kaminski is considered a reasonable man to lead their European group whereas McMillan Scott is expelled for an isolated spasm of principled indiscipline.

  4. Neil craig @ 2009-09-18 13:30

    The Conservatives gad been committed to forming a new eurosceptic party since Cameron became leader. The Polish party were regularly suggested as an obvious potential member & if McMillan-Scott couldn’t accept that he should not gave stood on their manifesto.

    Perhaps you can say what Kaminsky’s party has done less “reasonable” than the LibDems enthusiastic support of war crimes & genocide.

  5. Things have certainly come to a pretty pass in the ‘moderate’ Cameronian Conservative Party when Kaminski is considered a reasonable man to lead their European group whereas McMillan Scott is expelled for an isolated spasm of principled indiscipline.