Independent Network, German elections and Party Conferences

On 25th September in London there was a meeting of The Independent Network. This is a loose association of Independent candidates and well wishers that was formed initially before the 2005 election. Beyond requiring those associating themselves with the name to adhere to a slightly augmented version of the Nolan Committee recommendations, the Networks sole role is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experience, opinions and general support amongst members. There are no shadowy financial backers, it is all self funded.
The widely recognised people who have offered close constructive support include Esther Rantzen, Martin Bell, Richard Taylor, Dai Davis and Terry Waite. Two of those named were at the meeting and the others would have been if they had been able.
About forty people attended from all over the UK, many of whom are committed to standing or considering it actively. As an aside – I am also aware of over fifty healthcare workers who are standing too. The age range was from Student Union reps to sixties. Many present had previous experience in local and national politics.
For two and half hours the discussion ranged over the best uses of the Network and some housekeeping issues to do with it, previous experience, present plans, future meetings, the standards to which members would adhere, the desirability or otherwise of forming a party – we decided against, the election of a board – of which I am a member and the listing of things needed for the campaign.
The enthusiasm of the group was striking as was the ease with which people of such diverse backgrounds and points of view were able to work well together.
The Network can be found at: http://www.independentnetwork.org.uk/index.html
The most notable feature of the German elections is not the widely predicted outcome but the growth of the smaller parties, especially the Greens who are now at their highest figures ever. The big parties are losing ground everywhere and not without reason.
Another item of interest is the immediate results that they are able to provide when the polling stations close. This is something the UK could do well to emulate.
A website called Politics.co.uk talks a lot of sense and of late it has been reporting the widespread criticism of the party conferences in general. How tediously predictable they are, how sanitised and choreographed. http://www.politics.co.uk/news1/opinion-former-index/legal-and-constitutional/parties-face-conference-backlash-$1329558.htm is definitely worth reading.
The current popular mood seems to be that Labour seems sure to suffer very badly at the polls, nobody really wants to vote Conservative but they may feel that they have to hold their noses and do so anyway and the Lib-Dems are battling gamely even if no one can tell if a couple of extra poll points will translate into more seats.
There’s going to be an enormous number of constituencies this time where the electorate will have a genuine choice – an Independent. Now that is a development that is exciting, democratic and can lead on to great things – if the electorate is prepared to vote for change, proper change, not just yet another chance for ‘the other lot’ to have their turn.

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