A question for Liberal Democrat party members to mull… Under the law used for regional list elections, the decision over who should take over following Diana Wallis’s resignation as an MEP is up to the party (technically, the party’s Nominating Officer).
The general assumption in the past has been that if a list member stands down, it is whoever would have got their place on the list that takes over. That is the process followed in the past, such as in deciding Liz Lynne’s replacement as an MEP on her retirement or Lynne Featherstone’s replacement as a GLA member on her election to the House of Commons.
On the other hand, the electoral mandate in the Yorkshire & The Humber region is pretty thin. Here is how the first preferences played out in the 2007 selection:
Diana Wallis 1,082
James Monaghan 97
Jeanette Sunderland 90
Rebecca Taylor 85
Stewart Arnold 60
Four other candidates 98 first preferences between them
Diana Wallis’s re-selection at the top of the list was by a landslide. But the contest for second place on the list was very close, ending up:
Stewart Arnold 442.16
Rebecca Taylor 433.48*
How much of a mandate does such a thin margin for a candidate who won only 60 first preferences five years ago give? In other words, should the party follow the usual process or, in this case, would it be more democratic to, say, ballot party members in the region?
Over to you…
* At this point, STV experts will rightly point out that the winner of the contest to be second on the list is not necessarily the same as the person who would win if the contest for first on the list was re-run with the originally winner excluded. However, I don’t have the figures for that and these figures illustrate what small numbers of voters are involved.