It's that time of the electoral cycle when our hard working Euro MPs are keen to raise their profiles and win the hearts and votes of those whose support they need in the members' ballot to keep them at the top of the regional list.
Under the awful d'Hondt system of proportional representation we now have to use, seats are allocated to parties in rough proportion to the votes cast, with candidates elected in the order their names appear on the party list.
I have many objections to this system, the principle one being those candidates in positions 1 and 2 are almost guaranteed election. The inevitable consequence is the incumbent MEPs priority is to pander / ingratiate themselves with the 20,000 party members who decide the order of the list, rather than the electorate whose taxes are increased and freedoms curtailed as a result of the laws they pass.
Hardly a day passes without another Euro Bulletin landing in my in box. We've had photographs of Richard Ashworth patting dogs and shaking hands, Dan Hannan drinking tea and waving flags, and rumour has it that Nirj Deva was even photographed at the opening of an envelope whilst patting the back of the postman who delivered it. "Spledid job Mr Postman - very well done."
Their PAs phone and email almost on a weekly basis asking if there are any events their boss can attend to meet party members. A week on Saturday I have two of them working the constituency in opposite directions, with me desperately keeping them apart like a fraught hotel manager dealing with double-booked brides. Each PA enquires "will any of the others be there?" and if they find one or more of their colleagues have recently visited, "how many did they meet, what did they say, were they well received..."
Nirj Deva's latest bulletin arrived today and informed me that the Euro MPs will soon enter a period of purdah ahead of the members' ballot. There are times when silence really is golden.