Looks like the departure of Sajjid Karim from the Lib Dems to “Cameron’s Conservatives” is not to be the only change in the North West MEPs returned next time round as Gary Titley who always took responsibility for North Manchester and Salford as well as heading up the EPLP is not standing for re-election according to the Manchester Evening News. Titley tells the MEN it’s all down to the colossal waste of having a rotating parliament that flips between Strasbourg for its chambers and Brussels where the functionaries are based (some of the admin is in Luxembourg too). The whole crazy circus always feels on the move.

Having worked in Strasbourg for an MEP and been a postgrad at the University there I have fond memories of the place but did recognise the arguments for streamlining. Part of the reason it lasted was due to a last-minute back-room deal by Mitterand at the time of Maastrict. The old hemicycle of my day is no more; instead it’s been restored to it’s original function as the seat of the Council of Europe which it used to double up with. As it was the offices of the IPE building of the Palais de l’Europe were pretty nice – each with cabin bed thingy and shower should they need to stay the night. Since then a huge new postmodern spaceship cum Gotham city thingy has been errected on what was wasteland opposite the old human rights building. Having built that there must be no chance of a relocation for Strasbourg in a hurry.

Titley is a good bloke. I last saw him at a Labour Friends of Bangladesh dinner in Brick Lane and he was astonished that the nipper born to me on the campaign trail in 04 when I myself was down somewhere bringing up the rear of Labour’s NW Euro candidate-list is now a three year old. The 1989 election in which he was elected was a good on for Labour complementing the 5 years earlier when the MEP I worked for Carole Tongue got in – she was a bit of a prodigy in her day. 1984 and 1989 were psychological breakthroughs showing we could win national elections despite Westminister preformances. In the same way as how in 05 “Vote Blair, get Brown” as a Tory tactic turned out to be quite attractive to the electorate, the Conservative poster “Don’t Let Kinnock in by the back door” only gave the British voting public. In 94 an even greater number of Labour MEPs were returned for previously unimaginable seats like the now minister Peter Truscott or the maverick North London polytechnic lecturer who later left Labour Hugh Kerr – both in Hertfortshire. At the time I knew both who attributed their success to a John Smith sympathy vote but it paved the way for 1997. In the days of first past the post Labour returned 10/10 MEPs in hte north west. Last time we got 3. The was with EPLP folk the day the decision came through from London to switch to PR and they were all justifiably livid – some subsequent;ly standing as independents. Also memorable was the 2004 count at Manchester Town Hall, also attended by Nick Griffin who exited with his henchmen as soon as he realised they’d flopped miserably. Titley has certainly seen some action in his 20 years service and will be much missed.

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