Martin Bell to stand as MEP

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Indy Politics

Martin Bell, the war reporter turned anti-sleaze MP, is to stand for the European Parliament this summer in protest at the way Euro-MPs are elected.

Mr Bell, 65, who defeated former Tatton MP Neil Hamilton in 1997, will stand as an independent candidate for the Eastern Region Euro-constituency, which extends from Bedfordshire to East Anglia.

He said yesterday he wanted to "strike a blow for democracy" and remove the system of closed party lists, under which MEPs are chosen by party leaders according to their share of the vote in Euro elections. Mr Bell, famous for his trademark white suits, said: "I believe in a democracy that serves local needs rather than party interests. The present electoral system doesn't do that. It breaks the constituency link which has, till now, been the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy.

"Who, for instance, represents Norfolk and Suffolk in Brussels and Strasbourg? Most of the voters neither know nor care. They feel powerless."