Dr. Steven Ford: Hexham

April 19, 2010

This is one of my series of articles on some of the Independent candidates standing at this election. If you want to see a fuller list please go here.

However, I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list, you can see more independents on the Independent Network’s website here.

My view is that as an electorate we need more independents to stand – we need more choice about who will represent us. As we have seen from the recent scandals that have hit Westminster, MPs from the main parties all seem to be part of the same ‘club’. To be truly represented we need people that are not part of that club. If you’re constituency has an independent standing, please take the time to consider the difference that having a true member of the local community can bring to you – someone who is working for the constituency and not for the party or their political career.

Name:
Dr. Steven Ford

Constituency:
Hexham

Why do you want to be an MP?
The political class and conventional parties have discredited themselves over decades.

The conventional view of democratic politics, neatly encapsulated by Romano Prodi, is that ‘democracies are operated by political parties’. This is a revealing statement. There is no mention of the ‘demos’ – the people. Political textbooks adhere remarkably uniformly to this view and avoid meaningful exploration of alternatives or mention them only to dismiss them.

I have observed the political process since my mid teens (late 1960s) and have never felt inspired or confident. The more I see and hear of the political process and experience the effects of activity in Westminster the more I become convinced that a major part of the malaise in our democracy (and many others) is the political parties themselves – their structures and processes.

There is too much party political gamesmanship and too little effective democratic government. We have a perpetual scramble to acquire and retain power, rather than perform effective government. Long term necessities are sacrificed to short term electoral advantage.

There is no effective choice for the electorate and we end up with a see-saw between government and opposition. In the UK this has been the case since the 1920s – the last time the liberals were in power. We have a self perpetuating bipartite oligarchy, in which an MP’s progress depends upon conformity and patronage – inevitably this attracts a certain class of person who, I believe, is uniquely unsuitable to wield power.

Politicians are remote, unresponsive, disconnected from people and their lives. Whilst it was always suspected that there was exploitation of the system by those in government, and it was worse in the past, it is now unambiguously revealed with the ‘expenses’ scandal.

There is sleaze, spin and corruption. There is scientific and statistical illiteracy. There is too much policy based evidence, rather than evidence based policy. There is an idolatrous relationship between the political class and unregulated neo-liberal free market capitalist economics. The recession we are emerging from was ignited by Thatcher and eventually blew up with Brown.

There is destruction of the post war social consensus, disdain for and destruction of the public services.

We have the loss of parliamentary and cabinet influence. The police, civil service, armed forces and security services are politicised. There is excessive influence on government from unelected people, lobbyists, the wealthy and businesses – especially banks.

The last people to have influence are the people themselves. The people know this and therefore abandon politics by failing to participate in the democratic process – either withdrawing political interest and activism or not voting.

This is wrong and it must change. It is dangerous and invites worse problems in the future. The only way to initiate the change is for a large enough body of independents to become elected to enforce reform. The influence of Independents and small parties will be disproportionately great with the increasingly likely hung parliament that pundits everywhere are predicting.

I have spent my professional career caring for a community and now I have the scope to care for a larger community in a different way. I wish to participate in the democratic process in order to serve the population of the constituency and to improve the function of our democracy at a national level.

Get involved or nothing changes! Tribal party politics has had its day – it is dying before our eyes. Complaining in private conversations, writing hot letters to the press and shouting at the TV don’t help – in order to change politics for the better, it is essential to be directly personally engaged.

Why do you want to stand as an independent?
In my lifetime, our form of democracy has come to stress freedom for lobbying activities (in practice, by businesses) and a form of polity that avoids interfering with a capitalist economy. It has little interest in widespread citizen involvement or for organisations outside business.

While elections exist and can change governments, under this model, public electoral debate is a tightly controlled spectacle, managed by rival teams of professionals. These professionals are expert in the techniques of persuasion, and in considering a small range of issues which they select. The mass of citizens plays a passive, even apathetic part, responding only to signals given to them. Politics is really shaped by private interactions between the political class and elites that overwhelmingly represent business interests.

This process has gone so far, that we now find ourselves in a Post-Democratic era. Contributing to the resuscitation of our Democracy will be a key role for an Independent MP.

Independents are the future of democracy.

Party politics is now and has probably always been inimical to a healthy democracy because its primary concern is party before people. Honesty, openness, plain speaking, responsiveness, deliberative process and citizen involvement are all key to a healthy and stable democracy. Putting people before party or abstract policy is the central theme to Independent representation.

What are the main issues facing your constituency?
Jobs, affordable housing, transport, environment, poverty, local democracy – for a start.

How do you think you can make a difference?
I will make a difference by disturbing the political status quo and depriving the complacent parties of their presumptuous dominance. Breaking the stranglehold of the parties will enforce a reappraisal.

What are your five main manifesto points?
The concerns of constituents, environment, health, electoral & parliamentary reform.

What one thing would you like to say to voters in your constituency?
In 2010 the majority of voters can win – the era of a London appointed candidate waltzing into a ‘safe seat’ with a minority of the votes is over.

Where can voters find out more?
My website.
My blog.


Alan Graves: Derby South

April 18, 2010

This is one of my series of articles on some of the Independent candidates standing at this election. If you want to see a fuller list please go here.

However, I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list, you can see more independents on the Independent Network’s website here.

My view is that as an electorate we need more independents to stand – we need more choice about who will represent us. As we have seen from the recent scandals that have hit Westminster, MPs from the main parties all seem to be part of the same ‘club’. To be truly represented we need people that are not part of that club. If you’re constituency has an independent standing, please take the time to consider the difference that having a true member of the local community can bring to you – someone who is working for the constituency and not for the party or their political career.

Name:
Alan Graves

Constituency:
Derby South

Why do you want to be an MP?
I have seen first hand the lack of representation from the existing MP and feel the people of Derby deserve better.

Why do you want to stand as an independent?
The constraints of a party are too great and leading parliamentarians do not listen to you they listen to the people who can affect their careers. I embrace independence wholeheartedly.

What are the main issues facing your constituency?
Lack of proper representation, incinerators, socio economic hardship and insufficient affordable housing especially in the 2-3 bedroom class.

How do you think you can make a difference?
By giving the people a direct voice in government without interference from party leaders. By bringing all parliamentarians together to achieve better common sense policies.

What are your five main manifesto points?
1. No Incinerators
2. Honest Politics with no Party Ties
3. Referendum on Europe – as promised so many time
4. Regulate Expenses to end greedy and arrogant behaviour
5. ‘Closed Door’ Sponsored Immigration

What one thing would you like to say to voters in your constituency?
If you feel you are one of the forgotten majority you should consider voting independent for proper representation of the people of Derby.

Where can voters find out more?
www.wix.com/alangraves/alangraves.


Gordon Kennedy: Dagenham & Rainham

April 17, 2010

This is one of my series of articles on some of the Independent candidates standing at this election. If you want to see a fuller list please go here.

However, I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list, you can see more independents on the Independent Network’s website here.

My view is that as an electorate we need more independents to stand – we need more choice about who will represent us. As we have seen from the recent scandals that have hit Westminster, MPs from the main parties all seem to be part of the same ‘club’. To be truly represented we need people that are not part of that club. If you’re constituency has an independent standing, please take the time to consider the difference that having a true member of the local community can bring to you – someone who is working for the constituency and not for the party or their political career.

Name:
Gordon Kennedy

Constituency:
Dagenham & Rainham

Why do you want to be an MP?
The reason I want to stand as an MP is because I expect to live here the rest of my life, and I just don’t want to leave my future, my families future, or my neighbours future in the hands of those I do not trust to breathe in and out.
I now see everyone is in politics for something, everyone has a self interest, I want long term solutions properly thought through………………And that’s my self interest.

Why do you want to stand as an independent?
I want the Independent MPs who have signed up to the “Bell Principles” of reform voted in because I believe the main parties have taken our votes for granted and often managed government for their own self interest.
Party claims of campaigns for the public good, seem only thinly disguised media stunts.
I want policy based on evidence, based on facts, and not based on political points scoring or party career advancement.

What are the main issues facing your constituency?
Social deprivation has increased since Dagenham’s car plant closure. Apart from the lack of jobs in the area, there is a lack of services per head of population in terms of education, health and social amenities.

How do you think you can make a difference?
I think Dagenham & Rainham needs honest representation in Westminster, someone whose only interest is the well being and promotion of the constituency without regard to party, career or other political ambitions.

What are your five main manifesto points?
To renovate the uninhabited houses on the streets of Dagenham using local skills, instead of building new homes and congestion.

To ask government to realise that Dagenham & Rainham ideally situated close to the capital with excellent transport links to Europe and provide tax and rate concessions for any business relocating to the area from outside.

To scrap future plans of ID cards, and initiate a scheme where any new police officer out of probation spends 10 % of working week in schools assisting with extra curricular duties as a role model for youths.

To manage excesses in the banking industry by giving the Bank of England power to licence all new financial products on the assumption that if it is too difficult for the Bank of England to understand then it is too risky for the country as a whole.

To stop promoting foreign dictators to drive their citizens into the UK as refugees, and support a scheme where all commercial imports are stamped to confirm that their country of origin is one which complies with the Universal charter on Human Rights

What one thing would you like to say to voters in your constituency?
In this constituency only half of the electorate vote in elections, if those people who are sick of politicians actually vote in this election then the usual party suspects will not keep their parliamentary seats

Where can voters find out more?
www.JustVoteThemOut.com .


Teresa Vanneck-Surplice: Brentford, Isleworth and Chiswick

April 16, 2010

This is one of my series of articles on some of the Independent candidates standing at this election. If you want to see a fuller list please go here.

However, I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list, you can see more independents on the Independent Network’s website here.

My view is that as an electorate we need more independents to stand – we need more choice about who will represent us. As we have seen from the recent scandals that have hit Westminster, MPs from the main parties all seem to be part of the same ‘club’. To be truly represented we need people that are not part of that club. If you’re constituency has an independent standing, please take the time to consider the difference that having a true member of the local community can bring to you – someone who is working for the constituency and not for the party or their political career.

Name:
Teresa Vanneck-Surplice

Constituency:
Brentford, Isleworth and Chiswick

Why do you want to be an MP?
It is a form of public service that I have felt I could offer something

Why do you want to stand as an independent?
I cannot give 100% commitment to any of the main parties. All have good and not so good points. It suits my character.

What are the main issues facing your constituency?
Expenses loom large. The present situation is not always democratic. Environment looms large, also employment, housing and the 3rd runway.

How do you think you can make a difference?
I have the confidence, the ideas and I can make them heard.

What are your five main manifesto points?
1. De-centralisation. Too many targets lowers self-esteem, deflates authority, deters iniative in our highly educated society. But I would retain supervisory organisations to oversee schools, hospitals,police etc
2. Concern for the environment- especially the Thames. Clean up the sewage, esp Mogden.
3.Support for business. The government spends money, but needs to consider and support thw source of the natiton’s wealth. Good firms must not be let die.
4.Housing by using unused land and derelict sites. Build rental flats for lower paid, and better support for the elderly and infirm
5. Improved service for families, children and young people. Education should be directed more at the individual. Better training and pay for teachers. More use of psychomentric tests in selecting staff, esp top jobs. More equality.

What one thing would you like to say to voters in your constituency?
No expenses- no sleaze from me. Just good service and complete honesty.

Where can voters find out more?
Any group can invite me to come and listen and talk, and hear what I have to say.
I am often campaigning in the constituency
I am building up a website: www.newindependentpolitics.org


Diane Park: Halifax

April 15, 2010

This is the first of my series of articles on some of the Independent candidates standing at this election. If you want to see a fuller list please go here.

However, I don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list, you can see more independents on the Independent Network’s website here.

My view is that as an electorate we need more independents to stand – we need more choice about who will represent us. As we have seen from the recent scandals that have hit Westminster, MPs from the main parties all seem to be part of the same ‘club’. To be truly represented we need people that are not part of that club. If you’re constituency has an independent standing, please take the time to consider the difference that having a true member of the local community can bring to you – someone who is working for the constituency and not for the party or their political career.

I’ve chosen to list Diane first as I have done some work with Diane and I’ve got to know her well enough to personally recommend her. If you are in Halifax, please please please consider how Diane, as a passionate member of the local community and tireless advocate for local issues, would be able to work for Halifax if elected.

Diane Park, HalifaxName:
Mrs Diane Park

Constituency:
Halifax, West Yorkshire

Why do you want to be an MP?
To make a difference, to be able to make the voice of the people of Halifax heard in Westminster. To consult as widely as possible to discover the wishes, desires and ambition of the constituents of Halifax and to deliver

Why do you want to stand as an independent?
Because I want to be able to say what I truly think and not what the party says I have to think.

What are the main issues facing your constituency?
Employment, education, transport, a weak and un-respected council

How do you think you can make a difference?
With straight talking, common sense, consulting, influencing, promoting and always with enthusiasm and drive

What are your five main manifesto points?
Law and Order
We all want to feel safe in our homes and on the street, crime in this country is too high and many of us do not feel safe. Local police stations should be accessible, more police on the streets and a more efficient response and follow up when a crime is reported. Community Justice Panels and use of community punishments as an alternative to short term prison sentences would help the over-crowding in prisons.

The Economy
People today are struggling with spiraling debts, rising food and energy bills and unaffordable mortgages. With plummeting house prices, falling growth, rising inflation and rising unemployment, the outlook for the UK economy looks bleak.
Government spending needs control and the economy needs a boost, by cutting taxes for people from the bottom up and regulating the banking system to prevent irresponsible lending and business practices the economy would be strengthened.

Education
It is paramount that every child to gets an excellent education because this is the best way to get on in life, get a good job, and learn about the world. Class sizes should be reduced giving teachers more time to spend in the classroom.
University education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost.

Health
Health care in the UK should remain free and available to everyone based on need; there should be no waiting lists and no postcode lottery. Money invested in health care should not be wasted on bureaucracy and should be invested in frontline services. Doctors and nurses are forced to spend too much time trying to meet government targets rather than caring for patients. Decisions about local services should be made by the people it affects, locally.

Transport
Buses and trains should be affordable and reliable so people can have a real choice about how to travel. Cutting pollution and making it easy for people to leave their car at home. The passenger should come first, with plans for a rail renaissance, reopening closed railway lines and new stations, using the railway as an alternative to Lorries and building a High Speed Network to cut journey times to Scotland and the north of England. Local people should have a say on bus fares and routes in their area.

What one thing would you like to say to voters in your constituency?
I promise to strive to improve the well-being, security, life opportunities and happiness to the constituents of Halifax

Where can voters find out more?
Website – www.dianepark4halifax
Twitter – http://twitter.com/Diane4Halifax


Just Vote

April 14, 2010

I was recently sent this email by Neil from The Raging See. I hope he doesn’t mind if I replicate it in full.

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If ever there was a time to be engaged in politics it is now. It is essential that a message is sent to those that are elected to represent us in Parliament so they fully understand that they are there to represent their constituents, all of them, not just the ones that voted for them and, not just to support some party machine. It is easy at times like this to think that they are all the same, and god knows they certainly try and morph into each other, and to wonder whether there is any point to casting our vote but, we can not be apathetic when it comes to politics.

One vote might not seem like much when you are casting it but it sends a message, it says that you care and, it it says what you care about. There only wasted vote is one that has not been cast even if you vote for a minor party or independent or single issue candidate you are telling whoever is eventually elected as your representative what is important to you. You are telling this country and those in power what matters to you

Casting your vote is the first step in the democratic process, a process that is constantly being undermined and, a process for which countless people through history and even today are prepared to sacrifice their lives for. And make no mistake, your vote will affect lives, not only the lives of people in this country but the lives of countless people around the world, you vote could be a matter of life or death. Yes, your vote matters and, wherever it is possible, you should vote for something rather than against something. It doesn’t mater if the “something” you are voting for is not going to win, what matters is that our elected representatives know that this is what we care about, that we are engaged, that they are answerable to us and that it matters enough to us that we are prepared to get up off our arses and to make our way down to a polling station to exercise our right to vote.

– – –

He also thought we might like to watch this:
Thanks Neil

Independent Candidates

April 8, 2010

I’ve just posted some details about some of the independent candidates that I know are standing.

I’m planning to do a separate post on each one over the next few days. If you’d like to be included in the list let me know.