Letter: Labour's list

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your report on Labour's purge of internal party critics among MEPs ("Labour NEC de-selects 11 of its MEPs", 23 September) quotes Tom Sawyer as saying that the Party's lists of candidates reflect the "real Britain".

This is certainly not true of the East Midlands. My own constituency, which covers the coalfield in North Nottinghamshire and North-eastern Derbyshire, nominated two people. But both of these have been rejected. Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson have decided that no one in the coalfield can be relied upon to figure in their lists, so that electors in our huge area have no one to vote for.

Of course, the new system abolished constituencies, so New Labour thinks it does not matter if coalfield people are given a choice of three people from Leicester, one from Northamptonshire and one from South Derbyshire. Not content with displacing party members from the selection of candidates, the next stage for New Labour is to displace the role of the electorate. Voters hardly get a look in under the new system of closed lists. They cannot put their cross against any of the names. Instead they can only choose between party labels. Peter Mandelson and his nominees have already done the rest. They have already decided who the MEPs will be. Those at the top of these lists are certain to be elected.

In addition to choosing those who will go to the European Parliament, New Labour has ensured that they will always obey orders. Accountability to the electorate has gone. In its place, those who are chosen will answer, above all, to the party bosses who picked them. This is a bad day for democracy in Britain.

KEN COATES MEP

(Nottinghamshire North & Chesterfield, Lab)

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

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