The DUP are very proud of MEP Diane Dodds becoming a member of the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents. The body while sounding very important is essentially a business committee come speakers’ office and is mainly concerned with timetabling parliamentary business.
What the DUP did not point out is; Dodds is not a full member of this body. Indeed she has only been appointed on a 6 month term and has no voting rights. All other members are there as a result of being a leader of a European Parliament political group and have proportional voting rights based on the number of MEPs they represent.
Dodds sits as a non-alligned member of the European Parliament and is a member of the non-attached (technical) group that comprises 27 other MEPs also unsuitable to join a political group or unable to find numbers to form one. This group have been clamouring for some time to be represented in the Conference of Presidents. Because the majority of them are fascists the CoP didn’t want to let them propose their own person and decided to allow the President of the EP to appoint one of the non-attached members to the CoP. Dodds being one of the least objectionable non-attached members (which says a lot about them), she was considered to be relatively safe and so was appointed by President Buzek for a six-month period as observer (she has no vote on any issue).
I’m not entirely sure what happens after six-months. Probably another relatively non-objectionable member will get the nod for another six months. But there’s very few relatively non-objectionable MEPs who are non-attached so maybe Dodds could end up in the chair for longer.
The problem that arises for Dodds is both the Conference of Presidents and non alligned MEPs will have a not unreasonable expectation that she is solely there to represent their interests (they being some of the most extreme and right wing views in Europe) – it certainly isn’t an appointment to represent herself, the DUP or the north of Ireland. Indeed she is in a room full of people only there to represent group interests.
How Dodds can represent this group comprising people mainly ranging from the far-right to the extreme-right (or barely disguised fascism) will be intriguing. She refused to sit beside Nick Griffin at the Parliament’s opening, now she has accepted a role ensuring his interests are upheld.