What does -‘Independent’ mean?

Increasingly frustrated by poor decisions being taken by local politicians in Salisbury, several people are standing as independents in the forthcoming May elections. Here, SDA member Dickie Bellringer cautions getting too carried away with the idea that independents will automatically solve problems in a letter to the Salisbury Journal two weeks ago.

“AS a member of Salisbury Democracy Alliance (SDA) and the Labour Party, I welcome independents who want to stand in local elections.  However, it should be pointed out that the description ‘independent’ is not necessarily the same as the description ‘apolitical’.  All independence means for sure is that the candidate is not a member of a political party. It may mean that they are also apolitical in the sense of having no interest in politics but this is not guaranteed.

“In other words, independents may be just as political as members of political parties – we just don’t know what those politics are. And, by the way, Labour does not have a whip on the city council.  Further, simply standing for election, whether as a member of a political party or not, does not mean you are partaking in a democratic process tout court.

“It could be argued that what we have would be better described as representative government in which the wishes of the voting public are kept as far away from the policy decision-making process as possible.  Which is why SDA is campaigning for Citizens’ Assemblies in which members of the public are randomly selected to deliberate and advise elected representatives on important local issues.

“To date two political parties – Labour and the Lib Dems – are known to have included Citizens’ Assemblies in their manifestos as part of their plans for more open local government.

“Let’s inject some real democracy into our community!”

Dickie Bellringer