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.

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.”

Esther Rantzen to run in Luton

June 17, 2009

Sky News is reporting that Esther Rantzen has decided to try and stand for election in Luton South. She’s reportedly doing it in protest at the behaviour of the current MP Margaret Moran, who claimed over £20,000 in expenses on a property that was 100 miles from her constituency and has now ‘disappeared’ from public view.

Will a ‘celebrity’ be the best replacement as MP? In recent times Ms Rantzen is best known for appearing in ‘I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here’, but before she was a regular fixture on TV laughing at funny shaped vegetables and crusading for consumers in That’s Life.

Obviously I have nothing against Esther Rantzen personally (I’ve never met her), so we’ll just have to see how she gets on.