Representing Labour In Europe

John Howarth MEP in Crawley with activists during the 2014 European/Local Elections

The UK may be making its way out of Europe, but there’s at least one new link between the South East and the EU: John Howarth MEP.

Despite the–frankly–rather boring debate about electoral systems, in the UK we do actually run a few different sorts of electoral models which represent support more proportionally than the familiar First Past The Post used for General and Local Elections.

At European Parliamentary Elections in the UK we vote for a political party to represent a constituency the size of a region, so in Crawley’s case the South East of England. In the South East we have nine MEPs and they’re allocated to parties based on the share of the vote they accrued at the election. Before the election parties list the order in which their candidates will be allocated seats, so for the first seat a party gets the candidate at the top of the party’s list gets the seat, for the second seat the second placed candidate, and so on and so forth.

Despite a huge effort at the last election Labour won only one seat in the South East and that went to the very excellent Anneliese Dodds…or rather the very excellent Anneliese Dodds MP. As a result of Anneliese Dodds successfully winning Oxford East (with 65.2% of the vote), she vacated her seat in the European Parliament.

So, what next? A by-election? Nope, because of the way the voting system allocates seats that wouldn’t work, instead the candidate who was next on the party’s list moves up a place and takes the seat. That candidate is John Howarth, former Reading Borough Councillor and (before the county council accidentally voted itself out of existence and made Reading a unitary) Berkshire County Councillor, former party staffer, small business owner and all round great guy. So John takes Labour’s sole seat as one of the nine MEPs for the South East.

John spent a lot of time in Crawley during the 2014 elections and consequently built up a good idea of the issues facing the town and local residents. I’m confident that he’s going to be a strong voice for the area in Europe for so long as we’re still a part of the EU.

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