Apr 2, 2010

UK: Independents Aim to Shake Up the Ruling Duopoly

From the Guardian:
Scott argues that traditional voting loyalties are breaking down, and that people are ready for a change. "They realise that what they've got is, in essence, a den of thieves, rather than people of conviction and principle," he says. But he does not believe independents are yet ready to challenge in more than a few seats. "The MPs are vulnerable. They're just damned lucky there isn't a well-organised, well-oiled machine to take advantage of it. An independent movement would need far more discipline and far more focus, but that defies its main object in the sense that it's loose and there are no whips."

The contradiction is a crucial one: how can independents pool their resources without becoming a party, the very thing independents believe undermines free thinking? That is the conundrum with which the Independent Network is currently wrestling. The network is the brainchild of Brian Ahearne, a thirtysomething PR man with an office in north London so small he prefers to meet in a pub nearby. "Party politics is self-serving," he says. "It's great for careerist politicians, but not for people who actually want to do something for the constituents they represent." He argues that, as disaffection with the established parties has grown, the way in which independents are viewed has changed. "You can see a very marked difference in the way the media has been reporting independents from previous elections, when we were much more aligned to the Monster Raving Loony party. By having an organisation that promotes the value of independents and showing that we are a credible alternative, people are taking independents much more seriously."

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