Tuesday 16 March 2010

Edward McMillian-Scott joins the LibDems

Edward McMillan-Scott, who ran for - and won - one of the Vice President posts of the European Parliament ahead of the ECR's preferred choice, Kaminski (now ECR leader in the EP), has now joined the Liberal Democrats (who are part of ALDE in the EP). McMillan-Scott had been expelled from the ECR after winning the VP post, and has now been expelled from the Tory party altogether. Instead of appealing the decision, the MEP has joined the LibDems and publicly bashed the Tory party as a "nasty party" - exactly the image party leader David Cameron has been trying to dispel:

""David Cameron shields his europhobes," he writes. "No murmur was made when last weekend Lord Tebbit in effect encouraged Conservatives to vote Ukip in the general election against the Speaker, John Bercow. The dog whistle is really at a lower pitch: that Ukip supporters know that there is a real home for them, back in the Conservative party.""

Nick Clegg has appeared alongside McMillan-Scott to portray the LibDems as a credible and pragmatic European party in comparison to the Conservatives. Labour has also been bashing the Conservatives and using the party's European policy as a means of showing them up as a unpragmatic, nasty party.

So this could hurt the Tories, though it's unclear how far it would affect public opinion. McMillan-Scott could be portrayed by the party as a malcontent who disobeyed party orders and is lashing out now that he has to pay the price - but then again, this is hard to square with his success in the EP. How can a successful parliamentarian with enough support to win against the ECR's preferred candidate be a dangerous radical opposed to sensible party policy? His methods of political engagement seem to work better in the EP than current Tory policy, and MEPs such as Daniel Hannan are far more radical and potentially dangerous to the Tory's image than McMillan-Scott (particularly as Hannan played a poster-boy role in the US Republican's campaign against health care reform by portraying the NHS [a holy of holies in UK politics] as a national disaster). Explaining how radicals such as Hannan are protected while McMillan-Scott can be so easily ousted may be uncomfortable, even if he did disobey the ECR/Tory whip.

McMillan-Scott has written a column in the Observer hitting out against the Tories' euroscepticism.

1 comment:

  1. Far from hurting the Tories, this is being spun as a success by the party faithful. The leadership might understand that this is a mess, but most Conservative voters are much more eurosceptic than Cameron, or even Hague. I think the prevailing opinion amongst Tory voters is "good riddance!"