Tuesday, September 22, 1998 Published at 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Anger as Labour picks Euro election candidates
Glenys Kinnock: successful last time round
A row has erupted over Labour's selection of its candidates seeking election to the European Parliament next year.
Left-wingers were angry after the party's National Executive Committee approved the list of 84 candidates.
The critics said that sitting MEPs had lost out, believing the new selection process gave the party too much control over who made it to the list.
The elections will be the first nationwide poll in Great Britain to be held under proportional representation - the actual method is known as the party list system.
Both sitting Labour MEPs and new candidates had to win one-member, one-vote ballots of party members, each member voting for one man and one woman.
But the crucial order in which candidates will appear on the party's regional lists at the election was set by regional committees.
MPs go on the attack
Voters cast their ballot for a party and the seats are divided up between the parties in proportion to the number of votes they receive. The individual MEPs are drawn from party lists, so it means those nearest the top of the list are much more likely to be elected.
The list includes 34 women and six black or Asian candidates. Forty-nine of them are sitting Labour MEPs.
NEC member Diane Abbott said said: "There will be a suspicion that people have been pushed to the bottom of the list for political reasons rather than for their contribution in the past ... It means they do not stand much chance of getting re-elected."
Fellow MP and NEC member Dennis Skinner said his predictions that MEPs would lose out had come true, adding: "If we adopt a principle of proportional representation, which is the flavour of the month, the result is the Labour Party will naturally lose seats."
But party general secretary Tom Sawyer described the selection procedure as "rigorous, fair and democratic, with 30% of Labour members participating, compared with only 1% for the Tories."
More women than ever before
Six of Labour's 11 regional lists were headed by women, he added, including Glenys Kinnock in Wales and Pauline Green in London.
Although sitting MPs dominate the lists, there are some notable exceptions.
Former Eastenders actor and gay rights campaigner Michael Cashman is second on the West Midlands list, and Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, occupies the same spot in London.
Mr Cashman is also seeking election to the NEC this year as part of the Members First slate of candidates.
The list will be put to a vote at the party conference in Blackpool next week for final approval.
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