The ‘Not A Political Party’ Party?

April 1, 2010

A comment from Mike on my previous post “Altogether rather grubby” discussed the idea of forming a party for independents that offers some form of cohesion and organisation, without needing the members to sign up to set policies and actions.

I’ll let Mike explain his idea.

On the need for a ‘party’:

“On becoming an MP one joins a club. It’s not the Labour club, or the Tory club, but the WESTMINSTER club, and the pressures (and attractions!) on new members to play by the rules and follow the code of (mis)conduct must be enormous. And those same rules and that same code will still be there after the election. Twelve independents are not going to change that, like-minded or not, especially if they remain independent of one another. Much as I might wish her to be elected and hope she could be right, I can’t really share [Esther] Rantzen’s optimism.”

On the structure:

“But ‘party’ can also simply mean “a group of persons working together”. If that group was not necessarily united in opinion about state and its affairs, it would be an ‘apolitical’ party. It would be politically neutral. So what would hold it together? Well, clearly not the cement of political creed or party dogma. But it would have to share some aims, objectives or beliefs.

As a party, it would have no party policies, no party line, no alliance with any other party, and definitely no party whips. It would provide an umbrella for those people who share a common approach and set of behaviours towards public service and political issues, but leave them free to follow their constituents’ and their own beliefs and ideals.”

I’d be really interested to see what you all think – would an ‘alliance’ of independent MPs be a good idea, or even workable?

But I’ll offer my view it as well.

Quite simply, I think this is EXACTLY what is needed. My original view when I set up this blog was to eventually form an alliance or a network or some form of organised group to support independent candidates and ultimately MPs. I intentionally avoided the word party and I still think that this is wrong choice of word – however I agree with the sentiment.

Campaigning for and winning a seat in Parliament can be a very expensive and labour intensive. That is why most people with any ambition to be an MP join a political party as it is the parties that can provide the finances and organisation needed.

However, to be selected to stand for election you need to be a ‘good’ party member, so you become part of the party machine and most of the independent spirit is knocked out of you – or they choose people for whom it wasn’t there in the first place. So we get more people elected that are just part of the same club – no matter which party they represent.

My view is that in a democracy that is based on local constituencies, then we should choose an MP that represents that local constituency – not one that represents the party that funded their election campaign. In fact, we speak with disdain of politicians [especially US politicians] that once elected provide pay-back to the people that funded their campaign. In our party system many MPs do exactly that – at the expense of their local constituents.

So I think we need to create a system, group, collection, faction, troupe [Ed – okay, put the thesaurus down now] – whatever we want to call it that can help candidates get elected, but leave them free to work for their local constituency.

The Independent Network seems to want to offer some of that, but probably for reasons of resources (time and money) sets its ambitions too low.

But I do agree that we should create ‘The ‘Not A Political Party’ Party’. Obviously it won’t happen in time for this election, but it is something I believe strongly in – so watch this space!