A bit of an update …

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:

Money
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.

Influence
“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.

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One Response to A bit of an update …

  1. Mike says:

    In relation to your three main areas of concern, there seems little doubt from what I have read and seen that if he had stood as an independent, Ian Gibson, the “unseated” Labour MP in Norwich North, would easily have won the receny by-election there brought about by his resignation.
    So what stopped him standing? Lack of money? Fear of having no influence to achieve what his costituents put him there to do? Or simply just one of the ‘good’ people in the system who had had enough and lost the stomach for a fight – apparently his expenses misdemeanours were in the same league as Jack Straw and some other Cabinet member I can’t remember the name of, but who was on last week’s Question Time. Maybe through this blog we can ask him.
    However, what does seem clear is that, deprived of its preferred option, the electorate chose to register its protest vote by awarding a landslide to the other main party. Perhaps a sign that, faced with an uncertain choice, electors will go for the safe alternative. I might want to register a protest vote but – hey – I don’t want to really upset the present system for something untried and untested! This would seem to give the lie to Anthony’s assertion that “the voting public long since signalled their lack of support for the traditional political party divisions”.
    It seems to me that what needs to happen is to find some way of breaking the two-party system we have. It has become too cosy, and too incestuous. You could say, well isn’t that what the Lib-Dems are supposed to be there for? In a real sense, that could be so, except I am beginning to fear that they have come to the conclusion that the only way they can achieve power is to become more like the other two pareties, and the end result would be that the present system would just be perpetuated – the names on the tins might change, but they still have the same useless contents when you open them.
    I feel more and more that the most important of your three main factors is Influence. The objective of the Combination Acts of the 19th century was to prevent the ever-growing number of working men from achieving this – while pockets of like-minded individuals were legally prevented from getting together, they were deprived of all influence. Only when they were allowed to combine together into groups with common interests were they able to embark on the road to power. It seems to me that any number of independent MPs would be just that – a disparate collection of individuals – and therefore unable to have any real influence, unless they were somehow able to combine into what Charles has called a “community of like-minded individuals to bring about……positive change”
    Excuse me, could that be a definition for a political party? or is that too idealistic?

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