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Hugh Kerr, (born 9 July 1944 in Hurlford, East Ayrshire) is a Scottish politician and a former lecturer in social policy at the University of East London. He was elected a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in June 1994 to represent the euro-constituency of Essex West & Hertfordshire East until 1999.

Contents

Surprising win

Kerr surprisingly defeated the Conservative incumbent, Patricia Rawlings, and was elected as MEP for Essex West & Hertfordshire East (then comprising the Westminster constituencies of Brentwood and Ongar, Broxbourne, Epping Forest, Harlow, Hertford and Stortford, North East Hertfordshire and Stevenage). In his speech on election night in June 1994, he chided Rawlings (now Baroness Rawlings of Burnham Westgate) for not attending any of the series of pre-election hustings throughout the euro-constituency where local issues had been debated by the other candidates in her absence.

Old and New Labour

Upon his election in 1994, Kerr based his euro-constituency office in the marginal constituency of Harlow providing support for the local Labour party and its nominee Bill Rammell. Kerr fell out with the New Labour government not long after the 5 May 1997 General Election – when Rammell was elected as Harlow's MP – accusing the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of "stalinist tendencies" for planning to abolish all current euro-constituencies and for introducing a party list regional system for future European elections, and to stifle any criticism by Labour MEPs.

In a House of Commons debate on 27 November 1997, Kerr was quoted as saying that the gagging "shows that New Labour is increasingly authoritarian and centralised" (see [1]).

The dissident

Kerr was suspended by the National Executive Committee and later expelled from the Labour Party along with fellow dissident Ken Coates MEP, with whom he then formed the Independent Labour Network. He left the Party of European Socialists and joined forces with The Green Group in the European Parliament, becoming the first Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) MEP. At the June 1999 European Parliamentary election, with voting on the basis of proportional representation throughout the United Kingdom, Kerr was at the top of the SSP's party list for Scotland's seven European seats but the party's share of the vote was too low to secure his re-election as an MEP.

Back to Scotland

After a period living in Australia, Kerr returned to Scotland and worked as press officer to Tommy Sheridan MSP. In the May 2003 Scottish Parliamentary Elections, Kerr stood as an SSP candidate for the East Lothian constituency but gained only 1,380 votes (4.42%). The June 2004 European Parliamentary Election was no better for the SSP than five years earlier and Kerr's share of the vote at the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency in the 2005 General Election slumped to 1.9% (833 votes). Kerr resigned from the SSP in September 2006 to become the Press Officer of Solidarity, a new party led by Sheridan.

References

  • [2] About the Scottish Socialist Party
  • [3] Hugh Kerr, MEP
  • [4] East Lothian result
  • [5] Kilmarnock and Loudoun result
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