Diana Wallis MEP’s husband will not take over her seat

The Yorkshire Post reports:

The husband of a Euro MP at the centre of a furious “nepotism” row has bowed to pressure and decided not to take over her Yorkshire seat when she quits next week.

Stewart Arnold, husband of Hull-based Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis, has informed officials he will not be taking over his wife’s post at the EU Parliament, despite being eligible to do so as the party’s second-choice candidate at the last Euro elections.

His announcement follows a week of mounting criticism at the possibility of a husband automatically taking over his wife’s seat. Fellow Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies quit as party whip in protest, accusing the pair of “nepotism”.

The seat will now pass to Rebecca Taylor from Todmorden, who came third on the party’s regional list in 2009.

Read the full story at the Yorkshire Post.

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29 Comments

  • toryboysnevergrowup 27th Jan '12 - 10:05am

    This is ridiculous – there should be a by-election with the whole electorate rather than relying on the third hand unendorsed choice of a handful of LibDems. Does that Dem bit of the name mean anything? And I don’t care if the system was altered by Labour – it is still wrong and undemocratic.

  • Andrew Suffield 27th Jan '12 - 10:14am

    there should be a by-election with the whole electorate rather than relying on the third hand unendorsed choice

    The electorate never voted for Diana Wallis. They voted for the party list, knowing and expecting that they would get the highest available candidates on that list.

    This is not an endorsement of party list systems, but in no way is it an “unendorsed choice”.

  • Richard Swales 27th Jan '12 - 10:30am

    I thought it was no longer allowed to use FPTP to elect MEPs, even if we wanted to (which we don’t).

    Isn’t the situation described a limitation of STV, that you have to have the same second choice regardless of whether your first candidate is eliminated or elected. To say “Those two are great, if I can’t have Her I want Him”, is one thing, but to say “I want that husband and wife pairing at the top” is another. More often, if your favourite man is elected at the top you might want a woman next, but if not then your second choice might be another man. Maybe you should be able to submit (from second choice onwards) two separate lists of preferences.

    Of course, when i say it is a limitation of STV, other systems don’t even one list of preferences.

    If you want to get an improvement to closed lists past the Tories, then open lists would be the easiest.

  • Malcolm Todd 27th Jan '12 - 11:09am

    “Maybe you should be able to submit (from second choice onwards) two separate lists of preferences.”

    Ah, just when I thought you couldn’t make STV more complicated or less sellable. Thanks! 😀

  • A good decision.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 27th Jan '12 - 12:00pm

    I’m not a great fan of party lists – but even if you accept STV there has to be better ways of operating that system than allowing a Party to be represented by a candidate that no one seriously expected to be their MEP and I suspected was subject to negligible public scrutiny as a result (a public primary of Lib Dem choices?). That said a byelection in which the electorate decides would be bettter that the current backroom deal cobbled together by the LibDem hierarchy. Some people also forget that the LibDems have also gained an MEP in the area concerned by a defection since the election (of course in that case we elected the person rather than the party – talk about heads I win tails you lose). I’m afraid the current situation is just using the rules in prder to demonstrate contempt for the electorate.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 27th Jan '12 - 2:14pm

    Anthony Hook

    With the current rules yes I do – The same would apply to the Labour Party which I support btw.

    William Hobhouse

    So you are happy to have 2 LibDem MEPS in Yorkshire and Humberside – one who was elected as a Tory and another who was third on your list and received a negligible amount of votes in your own party selection? Of course, next time we hear LibDems complaining about parties getting more representation than they deserve we shall now all now know that it is self interest rather than principles that is driving their behaviour.

  • TB The current closed list rules were introduced in 1999 by the Labour government (except in Northern Ireland where it was STV – because the list system would have given an unacceptable result?). So this is the Lib Dems fault how? If you want to winge go on a Labour site.

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 27th Jan '12 - 5:56pm

    The point above is quite right that people voting in the 2009 European elections voted for the party, not the individual. They are getting the individual the party (selected democratically) the party put up. To the extent that they’re not getting the first person on the list, that’s because Diana has resigned.

    William Hobhouse is right – I don’t know Stewart Arnold, but he deserves credit for this decision.

    Finally and something no-one seems to have commented on yet, and something that is not surely not totally irrelevant – Rebecca Taylor will be a good MEP!

  • Antony Hook 27th Jan '12 - 8:31pm

    Toryboy

    I think the problem with your by-election idea is that representation for people who vote for parties other than the largest party would be squeezed out. We like proportional representation and I think it is unlikely you will persuade many of us against it.

  • Foregone Conclusion 27th Jan '12 - 8:33pm

    I think is probably the right decision.

  • Richard Swales 28th Jan '12 - 7:24am

    @Malcolm 🙂 Maybe that is one best left for internal elections onlx.

    @tb you seem have the terms PR and STV mixed up. PR means any system, where the people elected are in proportion to the votes cast. (I have previously arged that PR is not a yes/no matter, but that is for another time). STV is a specific family of PR systems, whereby the voters number candidates in order of preference and don’t need to go strictly by party if their favourite part has candidates they don’t like.
    Mrs Thatcher’s government introduced stv for student union elections in the 80s as it is good for a diverse elected body and for independent candidates.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 28th Jan '12 - 9:20am

    Anthony Hook

    It isn’t a by-election idea – it is what would happen if all the LibDems on the list did the decent thing and resigned. I don’t think it is the question of small parties being squeezed out in this case – the LibDems here seem to think it is fair for them to have 2 MEPs in this region – neither of whom the electorate thought would become MEPS – if that is the Lib Dem idea of fair votes then you need to look at yourselves in the mirror. And if another Party did something similar – I defy anyone here with an honest bone in their body to say that LibDems wouldn’t be complaining about the unfairness of it all. You can all complain about how the system works, about how it was another Party’s fault, but in this case a fairer more democratic outcome is in the hands of LibDems and it isn’t being taken.

    Richard

    Yes – I should have said Party List rather than STV – the fact is even with Party List systemes there could be more democratice ways of replacing candidates who resign.

    Hugh

    I’ve already made it clear that I don’t think my Party was right on how it implemented this system – but just perhaps there are some LibDems who don’t think that their own Party is acting properly either.

  • Francis Meyerfeld 28th Jan '12 - 12:59pm

    What Toryboy and others don’t seem to grasp is that under the closed list system, each party decides an order in which it wants their candidates to be elected. So the Lib dems decided that they wanted Diana Wallis as their first MEP and Stewart Arnold, her husband the second and only 8 votes behind him Rebecca Taylor as their 3rd MEP.

    It’s not a question of 2nd or 3rd best, it’s just an order for selection. And yes, the electorate have voted for all these candidates, because the ballot paper named all of them and when they chose which list to vote for they voted for the process of succession that is now taking place.

    There are 2 alternatives.

    An open list system, where the electorate can choose the order in which any particular list is elected, a system used elsewhere in Europe for both European and other elections and

    Single transferable vote where the electorate place all candidates on the ballot paper in their order of preference by voting 1,2,3 etc not X voting. This is the system used in most elections in Northern Ireland, local elections in Scotland and all elections in Eire. In the event of a vacancy it is possible to recount the original votes with the departed candidate eliminated or else to have what is effectively an alternative vote election for 1 candidate.

    Either of these would be preferable to the system we have.

    Perhaps Nick Clegg would sort this out before the next Euro elections in 2014.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 28th Jan '12 - 6:27pm

    “What Toryboy and others don’t seem to grasp is that under the closed list system, each party decides an order in which it wants their candidates to be elected.”

    I grasp this perfecly well – just as I understand how the system works – I just don’t think that the system is particularly appropriate and I don’t think the LibDems are being particularly moral are chosing to play within the rules to obtain overrepresentation for their party with 2 MEPs that the elctorate did not expect to see as their representatives. I don’t disagree with how you suggest the system should be changed – and if party lists were to be kept – then it might be fairer to submit your list to the electorate rather than chose between candidates with hardly any votes when originally selected – and to treat defections as resignations. But I still think the LibDems are treating the elctorate with contempt within the current system.

    Stephen Robinson

    As a Labour Party member I don’t think that any letter of mine to CCHQ would have much impact. That said I believ that my points apply regardless of party. Unlike many here I am able to deal with the fact that my own party can get things wrong from time to time.

  • That so few people seem to be able to get their heads round the Additional Member System is really sad.

    It’s how we elect Assembly Members in Wales (also introduced by Labour) and they use it in Scotland, and it’s a damn sight fairer than FPTP. At least your list vote has SOME chance of counting for something, when on the local candidate vote, you might just as well stay at home.

    When I vote in a General Election, it’s purely on principal. Total waste of time otherwise. Effectively disenfranchised almost my entire adult life for living in a seat where a pile of horse manure would be elected if it had a Labour rosette on it. Having grown up in a constituency where the same applied (and still does) to Conservative horse poo.

    I wish a system deemed “good enough” for the European Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and London Assembly (and a number of other legislatures around the world) had been put up as the referendum option for Westminster.
    Please leave what little bit of democracy I have as it is, thank you.

  • Congratulations, (from a former babysitter) to Rebecca. Something good will come from Diana Wallis’ histrionics.

    And well done Stuart for making the right decision.

  • @ toryboysnevergrowup

    “As a Labour Party member I don’t think that any letter of mine to CCHQ would have much impact.”

    Whyyever not? From your postings here, you appear to be every bit as Tory as Tony Blair and David Miliband.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 29th Jan '12 - 2:08pm

    Tony Dawson

    I’d think I’d worry about your Party being indistinguishable from the Tories rather than mine.

  • Rebecca Taylor 30th Jan '12 - 12:55am

    @Cassie: your post highlights very well that party lists are used in some form or another in many elections across the UK. Westminster even starts to look like the odd one out! You would have thought that by now, people have got used to the idea, but judging from some of the comments I’ve seen (on here and elsewhere), apparently not.

    There is no perfect voting system, although an Irish friend defends his country’s use of STV as being the only “truly democratic” method. I’m sure some people would take issue with that.

    First past the post is also far from perfect as it can and does deliver safe seats where the next MP is effectively chosen by members of the local Labour or Conservative party whose choice is then only endorsed by less than a third of voters i.e. opposed by two thirds, hardly giving them a great democratic mandate.

    In the case of Yorkshire and the Humber, the correct procedures have been followed according to the electoral system in place. Those who don’t like that system are welcome to campaign to get it changed.

  • The right decision; albeit a little late in the day: very Stephen Hester.

  • Welcome, Rebecca. Hope you will enjoy being one of our representatives! Thanks for taking on this task.

  • @toryboy – if you’re trying to argue against the party list system, then you’re pushing at an open door here because nobody likes it. I suspect, though, that if this was a Labour list you might not be so vocally opposed, even if you still don’t like it…

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