Sir: I'm afraid my erstwhile colleagues Hugh Kerr and Ken Coates are being a little economical with the truth ("Rebel MEPs accuse Labour machine of dirty tricks", 2 January). There is no necessity for an annual re-affirmation of political group membership. Myself and my colleagues have not had to inform the President of the European Parliament that we intend to continue as members of the Socialist Group in 1998. It is taken as automatic.
However, the administrative rules of the parliament provide financial if not political motives for such a declaration of change of political affiliation. Political group finances will be calculated on the basis of group membership as of 5 January 1998. It seems that the two rebels want to have their cake and eat it. They would like to be expelled from the Labour Party, but not at the cost of losing to the Socialist Group the dowry they can offer the Greens for membership if they sign up before 5 January.
The rules of the parliament are crystal clear: you cannot belong to two groups simultaneously. It will not be the first time, or the last, that financial considerations will have influenced political principle. If the two MEPs have signed up to join the Greens, they have inevitably left the Labour Party. In consequence, all that needs to be done is note their departure.
GLYN FORD MEP
(Greater Manchester East, Lab)
The writer is Socialist Group Spokesman on the European Parliament's Rules CommitteeReuse content