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
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 -
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
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
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