Ever since I started this blog I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the responses that it has generated. From probably about 99% of people the first reaction has been “that’s a good idea”, but then as they’ve thought about it a bit further they’ve come up with a further question or two.
It is those questions that I’m trying to unearth. I want to hear what people’s objections and worries are about an idea like this. I want to see what needs to happen to move this from a ‘good idea’ to a ‘good reality’.
Whether it’s been people leaving comments on the blog, or as part of the conversations I’ve had about this, there seem to be some consistent themes being expressed. People may phrase things differently, but the general concerns seemed to be grouped around these three areas:
One of the issues I’ve raised is how expensive it is for an independent candidate to campaign in an election, so if we’re going to provide support financial support would seem to be the most important kind. So that begs the question that many people have asked is ‘how is it to be funded?’ The simple answer is that I don’t know.
However, the questions don’t stop there. Because even if funding can be generated questions remain about how the money is spent, what level of ‘influence’ can be gained by donating, how do we manage expenses etc etc.
Again the simple answer is that I don’t know the answers … yet. I do have some thoughts and ideas and I’m receiving more advice and input from people the more I discuss it.
“Yeah, but what good can one independent do?” That seems to be a question that a lot of people are asking. The main inference being – will it do any good and if not what’s the point?
Personally I don’t know if it will do any good; but I’m fairly confident that when the next election does come it won’t do any harm to have more candidates offering a greater breadth of skills and experience and giving constituents more choice.
As for influence inside parliament – well I think influence shouldn’t just be measured directly. If we show a public appetite for more independent MPs – even if we don’t actually get any elected – then there’s a good chance that the current parties will have to adapt to reflect that. That level of indirect influence has certainly happened with the Green debate in such a way that the traditional parties have adopted green policies to such an extent that the Green Party is almost no longer needed (although I’m sure the Green Party members wouldn’t agree with me exactly).
There are good people in the current system
This has been something that people have said to me and I agree very strongly with that (as you can see from my recent post about Alan Simpson). Not only are there some good MPs, but also a lot of good constituency workers and volunteers.
I don’t want to sweep everything away, but hopefully add more good people to the system to make it better.
I’m going to write a longer post about each of these issues and explore each one in a bit more detail shortly. It seems to me that no-one has said anything (yet) that should stop this in its tracks and that nearly everyone that has raised an issue has raised one that will help us to tighten up the idea and make it even more workable. So more comments and thoughts please.