Greens eye European seat

THE Greens are growing in confidence that they will be able to win an East of England seat in the European Parliament when the elections take place in June.

Graham Dines

THE Greens are growing in confidence that they will be able to win an East of England seat in the European Parliament when the elections take place in June.

The party's lead candidate Dr Rupert Read points out that the number of Green councillors has grown in recent years and they now have 28 members on nine different local authorities.

But that is still a far cry from the 11% of the total vote which is probably the minimum amount they need to poll to be guaranteed winning a seat under the list system of proportional representation used for European elections.

The arithmetic largely depends on how many votes the UK Independence Party, the British National Party, the Greens, and the English Democrats amass.

UKIP won two seats last time. If its vote holds up, it is doubtful if the Greens could win a seat. But if UKIP's percentage falls from the 19.6% last time to 11% or just above, then only lead candidate David Campbell-Bannerman would be elected, leaving the seventh place to be a close run thing between the Greens and number four on the Tory list, John Flack.

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Another factor to be considered is the collapse of Labour's vote across the six counties of the East of England. It may seem inconceivable that Labour's Richard Howitt won't be elected, but if Labour voters either stay at home or vote in protest for another party, then Mr Howitt could be in real trouble.

The elections coincide with polling for the county councils. The bad news for Howitt is that one of Labour strongest areas, the unitary authority of Luton, won't be holding an election, which threatens to depress Labour's vote.

Incidentally, Letter from Europe from our Euro MPs is now published only on-line. Go to

WE can only pray that the callous and cowardly shooting of British soldiers and pizza delivery men in Antrim on Saturday night does not herald a return for the province to the dark ages of blood-letting and the renaissance of the paramilitaries both protestant and catholic.

Gordon Brown has many frailties but his visit yesterday to the Massereene barracks, scene of the attack, was the act of someone who is at heart a man of compassion and who instinctively shares the grief of the families of the victims.

Massereene is an Ulster name - John Clotworthy was an Anglo-Irish politician in 1660 when he was created the first Viscount Massereene. John David Clotworthy Whyte-Melville Foster Skeffington, 14th Viscount Massereene and 7th Viscount Ferrard (born June 3 1940 is a British peer. He succeeded his father in 1992 and regularly attended the House of Lords (where he sat under the title Baron Oriel), his Irish viscountcy not entitling him to a seat) until hereditaries were booted out.

And when I put the name through Google, up came Massereene Road in Kirkcaldy which is the Prime Minister's parliamentary constituency. A three bedroom house described as a cottage within walking distance of Kirkcaldy railway station is on sale for offers of more than �139,995.

MOST people probably thought the green custard attack on Lord Mandelson highly hilarious. But John Prescott was right - what if it had been acid? Or indeed, a deadly assassination attempt by the Real IRA? Direct action is something none of us should condone.