No Response from The Jury Team

December 3, 2009

UPDATE: I have now been contacted by someone from The Jury Team. He said he sent me an email on 30th Nov, although I didn’t receive it. So if I have mis-represented their desire to get in touch I apologise.

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After the recent BBC1 programme called Make me an MP I wrote a post called The Jury Team fails to ‘Make Me an MP’ and I was pleased to receive comments from someone who had been involved in the campaign to get John Smeaton elected.

In the comments they didn’t agree with the points I’d made in my post – but that’s all good discussion. However it was one phrase at the end of the comment that was particularly interesting to me: “I wouldn’t try to analyse a political party on the basis of a sensationalised and inaccurate BBC documentary.”

And that is at the nub of my suspicion of The Jury Team – it looks to me that it is a political party trying to enter politics almost by the back door. It claims to support independents, but instead I feel that it wants unaffiliated candidates and wants to build a party that way. Obviously very different from truly supporting independents.

I don’t want to ‘bash’ The Jury Team and if it is genuine in its support of true independents then I’m happy to support it as much as possible – it clearly has more budget than I do to effect change. However, I’m just not convinced …

So, in my comments I said this:

“I’d love to chat about this further – either on here or even face-to-face (I did ask The Jury Team for a meeting a long time, but have been ignored). If The Jury Team is genuine about helping genuine independents, then I’d be happy to help them. I suspect it’s not, but I’d be happy to been shown otherwise.”

And someone, claiming to be able to get in touch with The Jury Team got in touch and we exchanged emails offline and then … well … nothing.

So this is an open request to The Jury Team to get in touch so we can discuss how we could support each (if they genuinely want independent MPs).

Please contact me at independent.mps@googlemail.com or on Twitter @independent_mps

I’ll sit and wait …

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The Jury Team fails to ‘Make me an MP’

November 19, 2009

I watched last night’s programme on BBC1 called ‘Make me an MP’ – it followed John Smeaton’s attempt to win the recent Glasgow North-East by-election. (You can see it on iPlayer here until 25th November).

And if you don’t know, John Smeaton was the baggage handler who ‘chinned’ one of the Glasgow airport terrorists.

The first thing to say is that it was a good programme and that was of course it’s primary aim, so any conclusions we might want to draw are influenced by the filming/editing process. That said there were some interesting points to consider with regards to independent MPs.

Overall, John Smeaton came across as a nice, engaging guy who genuinely had an interest in his local area – there was one nice bit where he was passionately concerned about the amount of dog mess on the streets.

However, he didn’t seem to understand the level of work that was involved – firstly to kiss all the babies and shake all the hands on the campaign trail, but also once in parliament. The expectation from the voters is that you’re working all the time for them, that you never stop trying to help improve their lot – and possibly even more so if you’re an independent – and that the effort put into the campaign is possibly a good indication for voters of the effort you will put into the job you do in Parliament.

The main feeling though, was that he was let down by The Jury Team.

The programme itself was a publicity coup for The Jury Team, but in the end it was bad PR as they came across quite badly.

One element was particularly painful to watch and that was the initial press release. John Smeaton was crucified by the media attending it and it seemed that it was his ‘support’ from The Jury Team that was picked up most.

Now, he had obviously been very badly briefed by whoever was working with him and not only had he not been given details about what policies were held, but he wasn’t even given the most basic media training on how to deflect difficult questions.

At that press conference the scepticism of the media was frightening – was it for The Jury Team, was it for the candidate, or was it (most frightening of all) because he was an independent?

While the Bonfire Night stunt was clearly a stupid, stupid idea from the very moment it was mentioned. The candidate himself was “livid” and it was at this point he felt he was being let down by The Jury Team. John’s dad said it best when he said, “The Jury Team should not treat Parliament with contempt.”

In the end John beat other fringe candidates (including an ex-Big Brother contestant), but still came a distant 8th with just 258 votes (Labour won with 12,231).

In the final analysis it felt like John Smeaton had been let down by The Jury Team. While they offered some financial backing that allowed him to stand (as he may not have been able to without it), they also wanted to hijack the campaign.

The Jury Team talks about wanting to support independent MPs, but it doesn’t, it wants people who are not affiliated to a mainstream party – which is very different. The Jury Team, or possible Sir Paul Judge, seems to want to use ‘independent’ candidates to promote its own agenda, i.e. become a political party through the back door.

This is a long, long way from supporting true independents.

The show did finish with a nice quote. As John Smeaton looked back on his failed campaign he was pleased to have tried:

“The most honourable thing to do in politics is to stand as an independent.”


The Jury Team … update

August 10, 2009

A few weeks ago I posted about The Jury Team, a political party for independents, set up by Sir Paul Judge just before the European Elections. In my last post I said that I’d tried to get in touch with them as obviously I didn’t want to duplicate efforts and would be happy to support them in any way I could if we were trying to achieve the same goals.

Well since that time I haven’t heard a thing.

But more than that – it seems as if The Jury Team has, to all intents and purposes, stopped activity. The blog hasn’t been updated since June 4th (I’m not very prolific, but come on …) and the Twitter account has only had one tweet since June 11th.

Oh well. If anyone knows anything about the Jury Team, I’d still like to get in touch.

Of course you can always follow Independent MPs on Twitter – @independent_mps)