London Labour’s European Circus comes to Deptford

Last night, Lewisham Deptford held its hustings meeting for London Labour’s European parliamentary selections. The new candidates all came to New Cross, made their pitches and then we asked about TTIP, what would make them a good MEP, will they fight for the class, or give in like New Labour, do they support two seats for the European Parliament, what should the EU do about Climate Change?

It’s the second time I have heard them, and I was a bit disappointed that they weren’t saying anything new, but that’s my problem and most attendees hadn’t heard them before so there were things they needed to say.

Sanchia Alisia, the anti-fascist from East London, Kamaljeet Jandu, the economist & class warrior defending workers in the work place and committee rooms , Lucy Anderson, socialist campaigning trade union lawyer and  transport economist, Andrea Biondi, Professor of Law and his own policy wonk, Ivana Bartoletti, the committed European and campaigner for Labour and the NHS and Seb Dance, passionate about London, passionate about Europe. More…

I think Ivana had the best line, or at least the most amusing in this part of the meeting, when talking about budget reform, where she argued for investment,  growth and jobs before cows.

The question about the EU/US trade treaty was short and so gave no clues as to the answer expected. It was also asked in a mild US accent. Sanchia spoke of the third world dimension, Kamaljeet spoke of the threat of privatisation and the impact on public procurement policy, Lucy stated, and I paraphrase that the US Trade Representative USTR is not to be trusted and that we do not need this treaty, at least not at any cost, Ivana spoke about Procurement and the privacy threats (see me on Privacy and Lord Dr David Owen on TIPP and the NHS), Andrea required that the treaty was ECHR compliant and Seb Dance stated the European Parliament needs to be vigilant and that the right wing commission are also not to be trusted.

They all treated the quality question as an excuse to finish their policy manifestoes. Seb Dance spoke about relevance; Andrea Biondi spoke of his teaching and legal experience making him a good MEP in the Parliament. Ivana Barlotteli spoke of her pan-European experience, the need to fight crime and corruption and her commitment to women’s issues. Lucy spoke about improving employee protection laws, transport, ensuring that the EU’s public procurement policy met the UK’s needs, (Did she argue for the re-nationalisation of the railways? She certainly said she’d oppose an EU transport policy that prohibited it.) and the prioritisation of LGBT policy. Kameljeet spoke of bringing relevance to voters by fighting to defend employment protection rights and fighting austerity. Sanchia said she’d look to build on her experience on the Barking & Dagenham Council health committee and her time as an MEP mentee.

The format chosen was question time format; each candidate speaking to introduce themselves, the selecting of questions and then answering them one at a time. Something about this format encouraged a creeping death.  At the Lewisham Deptford parliamentary selection, we chose to see the candidates one at a time to stop ganging up, and copying; we hadn’t  identified this as a problem.

The question on values, was asked by Paul Bell, interestingly none of them chose to agree with Paul’s characterisation of New Labour’s failings. The most memorable comment in this question’s answers came from Seb Dance

“it’s not just a trading block anymore, that’s why the Tories have such fear”

He also spoke of adopting the German idea of worker’s co-management and works councils. I also liked Kameljeet’s answer which included the advice to stop listening to Tory voters.

The European Parliament meets in Brussels and Strasbourg making a return journey once/month.  Most MEPs and tax payers want to agree to a single seat for the Parliament, Brussels, but the French Government & the City of Strasbourg want it to remain in Strasbourg, which was chosen for its symbolism of France & Germany’s historic enmity and promised peaceful future. All of the candidates support the abandonment of Strasbourg, but they took the opportunity to talk about waste. Oddly in Hackney, they were asked about waste and corruption, they choose to talk about the single seat.

The final question was on Energy policy and climate change, they all support the current Cap & Trade system, although it needs improvement  to ensure it works in the interests of the environment. Kameljeet mentioned the need to invest in Green Technology, and Andrea said he had a sneaking respect for the Carbon Tax.

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It’s a shame that it’s unlikely that more than one of these six will be elected to the European Parliament; the recent suggestion that the incumbents should be part of this process is to my mind clearly correct and proven by this process. Having 99 candidates stand, together with the superior quality of the class of 2013, makes preferring incumbents in this way no longer supportable. If an incumbent can’t beat newcomers with the advantages of incumbency then they probably shouldn’t be the Party’s candidates. Another thing is that the six newcomers seem to like and respect each other;  this is helpful, since they will all be representing the Labour Party next year and fighting on one manifesto.  This is another result of the selection process, in that the selection panel are choosing the candidates; as a Party I don’t want the sort of primary elections where the winners are so weakened and tarnished at the end of the selection process they can’t win the public election.

This all makes choosing who to vote for hard, but I mangaged it.

I used the online voting scheme despite the warnings I have repeated, and the advice of the open rights group that closed source software must not be used to record votes I voted online.

I voted for Ivana 1st, and Lucy 2nd, I have loved Andrea’s explosive impact on the politics of the selection and would love him to be an MEP but chose to prefer others. I have no doubt that he will make a difference to the politics of the campaign in 2014. I believe Kameljeet will also make a brilliant MEP.

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How to count a preference ballot for order?

I was interested, as were others in how the count will be performed. For the two incumbents, their 1st preferences will be counted, and the candidate with more will be 1st in the list, and the other will be 2nd.

For the remaining six, i.e. those who spoke at Deptford, there is a separate STV election, which is run iteratively, filling the last place with the loser of the first round. The succeeding rounds will fill the penultimate to second places with the loser of each round; the winner of the last round will be first. At this point there will be an ordered list of six, which will then be zipped, to ensure gender balance throughout the list.

 

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