Weekly Web Watch: Tory anger over cyber Euro labels

Conservative MPs were up in arms last week when a university lecturer, Sean Gabb, set up a web site labelling each as a Europhile or a Eurosceptic.

Conservative MPs were up in arms last week when a university

lecturer, Sean Gabb, set up a web site labelling each as a Europhile or

a Eurosceptic.



The site, which has received well over 20,000 hits, was set up by Gabb

as ’a service to the democratic process by enabling Conservative Party

members to make informed choices about who they should select as their

prospective parliamentary candidates at the next general election’.



Gabb’s aim is to prevent those who put themselves forward as candidates

from ’deceiving activists on the most important issue of our time -

Europe’.



The list was compiled from a number of sources, including a Times

assessment of where MPs stood on Europe before the last general

election, as well as press cuttings, speeches, and information from

party activists.



Gabb defines a Europhile as someone who is generally enthusiastic about

EU integration and supportive of the euro, while a Eurosceptic is a

member who is generally opposed to further EU integration and committed

to saving the pound. Some MPs have a question mark next to their name,

indicating either that they have avoided stating a clear position, that

they will take the party line regardless of content, or that no

information is known about the MP’s views.



The site has come under fire from dozens of those listed. Some of these

were unhappy about the idea in general, but most were livid at being

labelled as Europhile, or having a question mark beside their name, when

they felt they were ardent Eurosceptics.



There are links from the name of each of the MPs who voiced their

thoughts about the site or their position via e-mail, to the unedited

correspondence.



Some of the MPs even threatened legal action. One of the most vociferous

respondents was Ian Bruce, MP for Dorset South, who accused Gabb of

libelling him and suggesting that he had been lying to his constituents

by describing him as a ’don’t know’, rather than a Eurosceptic.



After some correspondence, Gabb accepted Bruce’s argument that he was a

Eurosceptic and reclassified him, although he did not agree that he had

libelled Bruce, and the correspondence was closed.



The site is unusual in that in itself it is much less interesting than

the on-line reaction it has provoked. The messages make lively reading

and, depending on your politics, could be seen either as being an

entertaining illustration of the ’old school’ blustery image of the

party now in opposition, or a solid confirmation that much of the party

is uniting behind William Hague’s strong line on Europe.



Organisation: Candid List

Issue: Naming of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs

At: www.candidlist.demon.co.uk



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