I saw an interesting piece on the new Boston Eye blog questioning when an independent candidate is a genuine independent and whether a ‘party’ or group of ‘independents’ means that in fact they are not at all independent, with their own hierarchy, power structures etc. and all the characteristics of the national political parties which many of us have grown to detest.
Over my many years in local government I have worked with politicians of all major political parties. I have been both a returning officer and a candidate – I actually stood for the police commissioner elections. In that election I had to form my own party (of 3 people) as if I did not as a candidate I would have had two real and very serious disadvantages:
- I would not have been entitled to copies of the electoral register until late in the electoral process – registered parties have easy access to the register. It makes it more difficult to target your campaign or even to make sure that your nomination paper are correct.
- I would not have been able to put any description on the ballot paper, unlike registered political parties who can use a variety of descriptions and a logo on their ballot form.
So as you can see it is a real ‘no brainer’ to form such a party; it is a necessity to level the playing field in a electoral process which favours established political parties. It is difficult enough to fight an election as an independent, but a lack of access to the register and no description on the ballot form would have made the uphill struggle nigh-on impossible.
It is for these reasons and for the organisational benefits of shared learning, networking and economies of scale that the Lincolnshire Independents were formed. And they do not behave or act like a political party. For example to quote (highlighting mine):
– We represent YOU and NOT a political party
– We vote in the interests of YOUR village/town and NOT how some political party tells us to vote
– We join together as a network of Independents who then work together both locally and nationally
Lincolnshire Independents encourage individuals to widen their interest, participation and election to all levels of government not aligned to mainstream parties and politics – their commitment being to the interests and well-being of the communities where they live and work and wish to represent as well as the wider interests and well being of Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire Independents are the coming together of independents united under the Lincolnshire Flag to work and support each other to further and promote the interests of the diverse communities they represent and Lincolnshire as a County.
Lincolnshire Independent members in the final instance are able to make decisions and vote in the interests of the communities they represent rather than take a party instruction. There is no party whipping system, which, is the mainstream party practice. Lincolnshire Independents are able to work with and support any group, organisation or individual, regardless of their political leanings, if it benefits, or enables a positive outcome.
Lincolnshire Independents are a registered political party in order to comply with Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 amongst other Acts. This regulates finances and transparency relating to donations, loans and accounting.
Lincolnshire Independents being a registered political party requires formal membership subscription which does not permit membership of the mainstream parties and avoids the accusation of “ so and so party member in disguise as an independent”.
Providing an Independent voice in local government
I am not a member but I have worked with them and attended some of their meetings. The Lincolnshire Independents are not like a party at all, they have no whip, they do not ‘parachute’ candidates into wards or divisions and above all they are free to vote how they like on behalf of their constituents.