It’s all getting quite exciting

February 11, 2010

It is now possibly less than 3 months before we’ll all be able to cast our vote in the General Election.

The exact date of the election has not been announced, but much of the speculation seems to be pointing towards May 6th as the likely date.

And even in my lowly position as a blogger on this subject I can feel that the excitement is mounting. But it’s not just general excitement in politics, there does genuinely seem to be a greater excitement about the prospect of independent MPs.

More and more people are reading blog as we’re getting closer to the business end of this process. But perhaps an even greater indication is how people are finding the blog. More and more people are now actively searching online using terms such as: “independent mps”; “independent parliamentary candidates” or even “standing for parliament as an independent”.

Obviously as the election date has not been named no-one can formally announce themselves as a candidate, but if you do want to stand then good luck and I’m happy to support in any way I can.

And if you can’t think of a platform to stand on – well, you could always suggest we declare war on Jersey.

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Esther Rantzen – and Joe

January 26, 2010

As I mentioned before, I was at the Independent Network’s workshope for prospective independent parliamentary candidates. While it was very interesting it was mainly populated by white middle-class men (including me), but I’ll talk about this a bit more on another post. However, someone who added a bit of glamour as they entered late blaming the traffic was Esther Rantzen.

In the past I’ve been a little dismissive of her desire to stand in Luton South. And, to be honest, I’m still not convinced about the value of having a ‘celebrity’ MP. However, having met and talked to her (briefly) I can say that Esther Rantzen seems genuinely interested, knowledgable, passionate and determined to the best job she possibly can for the constituents of Luton South.

We had a very brief conversation about the question of whether not being a local would hinder her chances, or perhaps more importantly, affect her ability to be effective. Esther (as I now know her … ohh, get me!) had had this conversation with a constituent who had replied “Local” when asked what the first quality was they were looking for in a candidate. Esther had replied, “instead of able?”

My response to this was that nearly all constituents want someone who is ‘representative’ of them and their constituency and being local is a short-hand way to ensure that.

My point from all of this though is to say that Esther Rantzen seems committed to the constituents of Luton South and, should she be elected (and based on the limited amount of time I met her for) would make a very good MP.

However, on the same day I also met another prospective independent candidate for Luton South – Joe Hall.

Unfortunately I spoke to him even less than I spoke to Esther Rantzen – we met and had a chat, then the busy day took hold and I didn’t get the chance to chat again. But, he too seems like a genuinely passionate candidate and someone who would also make a great MP.

Joe is local to Luton South and seems determined to represent and promote his area to the best of his ability. As he says on his website:

“Since 1951 the people of Luton South have always elected an MP from the party that wins the country. If it’s good for Luton to have an MP from the ruling party, we would be thriving, we should have a better town to live in than anywhere else in the UK. But that isn’t the case. We need better and deserve better.”

Some people were saying that it’s a shame that two independent candidates were going to stand – ie that would reduce the chance of an independent being elected. However for me it is really positive. The whole point of independent candidates for me is not about the winning (although that would be nice), but it is to offer real choice to the electorate. Two independent candidates can offer more choice than one.

I just hope that Esther Rantzen’s celebrity doesn’t generate extra, unearned votes. I hope that people vote for her only if they think she will make a genuinely good MP for them. Because one thing I’m very happy about is that Luton South now has two great independent candidates.


Independent Network’s Workshop

January 24, 2010

Yesterday I was at the Independent Network’s workshop for prospective independent candidates in Birmingham. It was a good day and really good to meet a large number of people who wanted to make a change and be brave enough to stand as an independent candidate.

The day was kicked of Dr Richard Taylor who was incredibly motivating and other speakers, including Martin Bell, continued to offer advice, ideas and further motivation.

I’m going to write a bit more over the next few days.


The Principles for an Independent MP

January 11, 2010

Reading through the blog from the Independent Network I came across a post from back in November which outlines the key principles that they want all independent MPs to follow.

The principles follow an initial draft by Martin Bell and have then been finalised and adopted by the Independent Network.

Of course the Seven Principles of Public Life produced by Lord Nolan are the basis for the guiding principles of the Independent Network – but they also look to take Lord Nolan’s ideas much further.

You can read the original post here, but it’s worth repeating all the principles anyway.

THE BELL PRINCIPLES

We will

• abide wholeheartedly by the spirit and letter of the Seven Principles of Public Life set out by Lord Nolan in 1995: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership

• be guided by considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, our constituencies and our consciences

• be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip

• be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism

• make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based

• listen, consulting our communities constantly and innovatively

• treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when we believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when we believe they are right

• resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level

• work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson

• claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of our activities.

I’m not sure how anyone with any true feelings for the independence of MPs could argue with any of these principles (although I’m sure that there will be some people wanting to ‘discuss’ the final wording).

I would like to add one more suggestion from me. Although this point is hinted at in points 2, 3 and 6 above I would like to make it explicit within the guidelines for any prospective independent candidate:

[We will] represent all of our constituents and work hard to put their needs at the forefront of all activities

So, who wants to sign up and follow those principles?


Is 2010 the year you stand for Parliament?

January 4, 2010

So, did you set some resolutions at New Year? Was one of them along the lines of “Make a difference”? If so, then you should consider standing as an independent parliamentary candidate.

We know that there’s going to be an election this year and we also know that there has been much more public acceptance of the concept of independent parliamentary candidates.

Now is the time that as an electorate we have to make a stand and try to make a difference – and what greater cause could there be than trying to improve the way democracy works in this country?

So many people are still angry about the MPs’ expenses scandal and see that as indicative of a deeper sore in our political system that there is goodwill being shown to independent candidates. That doesn’t mean that an independent will automatically be elected, even in the constituencies that have standing MPs that have been embarrassed by the expenses scandal. However, it does mean that the door has been opened.

So, do you want to stand?

If you do, it will require hard work, determination and possibly a bit of luck to get elected, but this blog will support you as much as it can to help you raise your profile and get votes.

Let’s try to make 2010 the year that independent MPs became a political reality.


It’s all about the money

August 11, 2009

As I was saying in a previous post, one of the main reasons that I have posted so little recently is because I’ve been busy with the day job. And as that is what keeps food on the table – that is what I’ve had to focus on.

Of course the same is true for parliamentary candidates (or potential candidates). Until you’re actually elected you need to keep on doing whatever it is you do. The situation is of course worse for independents as they don’t have the support and infrastructure of the party to plug into when it is election time …

But enough about their plight (for now).

This post is actually to ask for money – I know you’re not meant to be so bold about it all (it seems a bit crass), but there’s no way around it right now.

I want to see if this idea could actually work, if it could actually make a difference – even if only to one constituency. But there are two major problems that stop that happening right now:

– I can’t afford to give up my day job to pursue this idea
– It will never happen if it is to be a ‘hobby’

So I think it is time to put up or shut up. It is very likely that a general election could be called in May and that’s only 9 months away – not that long really. So if this idea is going to make a difference it has to be more than just an idea and start to turn into something real … and of course that will take money.

What I’d like to do is a three month feasibility study – to find out whether there’s a public appetite, whether some people would want to stand as independents and others would want to vote for them. (Nearly) everyone I’ve spoken to seems to think that there is some merit in it, but I realise that that is only a very small cross-section of the public. I want to get out there and find out if that view is reflected out in the wider world.

So how do I do that .. and we’re back to money.

The things I think we’ll need to include (but are not limited to):

– An office – this needs to be based somewhere, even if only temporarily
– Some ‘marketing’ budget – for surveys, questionnaires, profile raising etc – at this stage this would only be on a sample scale level, but like everything it will still cost money
– Some postage and stationery etc budget – we’ll need to write and post stuff out
– Some of my time – as I’ve stated many times, I can’t afford to do this for free. I’m happy to donate some time and effort to it, but not at the expense of my family (sorry, but that’s the way it is)
– An intern or junior person – someone who can get all the stuff done that needs to be done

So how much will all this cost for a three month feasibility study:

– An office – I’m guessing, but I suppose about £400 per month for an office in London – £1,200
– Some ‘marketing’ budget – I work in marketing so I should be able to be more exact here, but I can’t. I hope that a few people might be able to help out – but if you want proper results it needs to be paid for. So, a finger in the air would say – £5,000
– Some postage and stationary etc budget – not much for now – £200
– Some of my time – my view is that whoever runs this whole thing should be paid the same as an MP (without the expenses top-ups) on a pro-rata basis. The current salary for an MP is £64,766. So for one day per week for three months – £3,238.30
– An intern or junior person – the hope is that as an intern they would need a salary (i.e. it’s a great opportunity and will look good on the CV), but there would need to be an allowance for travel and food. So at £20 per day for three months – £1,200

As a round number that’s £10,000.

Has anyone got a spare £10k that they could donate to such a worthy cause? Please let me know if you have.

Wow, it’s a lot isn’t it? I suspect we could do it £9k, or even £8k, but we’re still talking about real money.

Please, please, please get in touch if you can help in any way.


So what have I missed?

August 9, 2009

So what have I missed?

In my last post I promised to write a bit more … and then of course I haven’t. My only excuse is that the day job has been busy and I’ve had to focus on that. But of course I have, I’ve got a business to run, a livelihood to maintain and a family to support.

I’m not trying to be all Edwardian about it all, but those are exactly the issues facing any potential independent MPs – it’s all about the money. How can you build up  a support base and start the process of generating a network that could eventually get you elected if you’ve got a life to run as well? No matter how good you might be as an MP, for most people family and livelihood has got to come first. And of course you’ve got no way of knowing when the actual election will be, so you don’t know how long you might need to be postponing other elements of your life.

Of course, if you’re a member of a political party, you can get all sorts of support with this kind of stuff – a network of volunteers is already established for you.

Anyway, what’s been happening since I’ve been ‘away’?

I suppose a couple of relevant things have occurred – the first was the Norwich by-election. Unfortunately, as you can see, the independent Craig Murray only got just over 2.5% of the vote. I don’t know if he was actually any good, but I’m sure that if he’d had a stronger network, more time and money then the result would have been better.

The second of course was that Esther Rantzen has decided she will stand as a candidate for Luton South at the next election.

There’s an interesting quote from the Conservative candidate about it – “That Ms Rantzen continues to be so interested in Luton – where she has no apparent links and even though Margaret Moran is standing down – has surprised many Lutonians.”