Day of the independents

Martin Bell was Britain's best known independent MP
Martin Bell was Britain's best known independent MP

By staff

Young people are being encouraged to stand as independents in local politics today, as Martin Bell promotes non-party politics in the UK.

The former anti-sleaze MPs launched the Independent Network's campaign for the local elections with Tom Bletsoe, the UK's youngest elected politician, and Tony Eggington, the first independently elected Mayor, in north London this morning.

"It is time for the election of independents, without party baggage but with real world experience, to be a force for honest politics in local government," Mr Bell said.

"They will be answerable not to a political party but only to their constituents and their consciences."

Interview: Tom Bletsoe

Organisers are encouraged by ICM polling at the last election which showed 30% of voters would prefer their MP to be independent of political parties, putting independent support at around the level of the three main parties.

In the wake of the expenses scandal, which seemed to vindicate many voters' worst suspicions about MPs, fifty-one per cent of voters said they thought all political parties are corrupt.

But campaigners for more independent MPs have failed to make significant inroads into parliament. Many hope that the local elections will bolster the number of independent councillors and encourage a younger generation to consider running without a party platform.

"Today, as political parties attempt to win our vote with honeyed words and promises of utopia, today is the time when we need to exercise our critical judgement," said humanitarian author Terry Waite.

The Network insists that all affiliates abide by the 'Bell principles', which incorporate Lord Nolan's seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.


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