If there is to be any renewal of the democratic system it surely has to deal with this issue of selection of candidates.
Only in the last 3 months did the Independents lose control of the Council to the Conservatives. Over a number of years, the first past the post system, reflected in the Representative Democracy System at local level has been Party dominated. In the last election the discredited Conservative Party lost control with the appearance of “Independents”, many of whom held or professed no allegiance to any Party. As we know there were those who felt it necessary to declare themselves as “Independent, independents”, some shifted allegiances once elected, whereas the bulk of Independents formed a grouping. The Independent administration held the balance of power for nearly 4 years. The shift towards a Conservative takeover occurred half-way through the administration’s term with some Independents reneging over their affiliations and switching allegiance to the Conservatives.
The day is almost over for the rule and dictate of “Parties in Power”. Parties that assume control, folow a whip and represent the Party rather than the people. Some say that local councils should be non-political so that all councillors can work together for the benefit of residents, but this misses the point, the people and their candidates, the polity, should be political not just leaving it to the established elite politcians. There can be no objection in principle to declaring which party one belongs to, infact a mass political party that operates on behalf of people is essential but this is not the same as forming a bloc in power. Any Party’s role is changing to one that politicises rather than assumes power itslf but empowers the people. To do so means that new mechanisms for selection and empowerment are necessary. This is what democratic renewal of the local political system seems to be about.
Naturally people have recognised the flaw in the system and proposed changes like proportional representation but this has not really offered a challenge to Representative Democracy, which needs to be replaced by a more effective form of Direct Democracy and empowerment from the bottom. It only benefits new and rising Parties that can maybe then participate in the electoral system.
The Party system at local level leaves you with the kind of thing we have with a “Coup Council” manipulating the electorate from the top. At present, on the island, they represent the Conservative Party and not their constituents and they rule arbitrarily keeping their positions through favours to their masters at the very top at Conservative Party central office.
This is why people are sick of politicians who appear divorced from us. There has to be something closer to the voter, people they know and can trust. Candidates are parachuted in and even some have changed Party to jump on a popular Party bandwagon. Some Parties seek to ensure control by the use of paper candidates who are used to fill empty seats in completely different towns. Some candidates seem to just materialise at election time then vanish into the wilderness.
Established political party organisers are not always acting honestly and simply wish to give electors the chance or choice to vote for their Party, if ithey can’t always find anyone willing to stand in a given ward. It is not necessarily genuine or legitimate with the best intentions at heart. The established Parties cannot really be trusted as they have their own agendas. So it turns out that it is not a choice about views, which are more often than not rarely presented anyway, in fact it is possibly no choice at all.
The system needs to change so that candidates live in the ward to stand for election. Candidates need to be selected, proposed and seconded by neighbours.
It is why people are exercising their ability to buck the system, the establishment and the establishment Parties.These representatives are bound to appear divorced from the people. They were given the opportunity in the referendum over the European Union and returned a Brexit vote. The implications have been worldwide with the situation in the United States being the most astonishing where the people wanted to buck the establishment. Unfortunately they have ended up with another pro-establishment figurehead with Trump.
There must be new mechanisms set up to select local people we know and can trust. If there is no change, no democratic renewal, people are liable to switch off completely saying that these politicians mean nothing at all and their decision making will make people say, “These politicians do what they want but I didn’t put them there!”
Of course there are genuine and honest people but they will have to make electoral change one of their policy decisions otherwise they will be lumped in with the rest.
Some opportunist band-wagoners are even jumping ship here.This is why last time people went “Independent” but the experience is that they too have only changed title as the emperor wears new clothes.
Modern circumstances mean that things cannot continue in the old way. People feel disenfranchised. The essence of change has to be renewal of the system and process and a fundamental question in this is that of selection. People are not only misinformed, a lack of information about creating and effecting good policy that serves people, they are not provided with the means to select local candidates. People need the means as well as the knowledge so that they can act and also find out what politics is best.
Election Commentators have already pointed out:
Conservatives are fielding a candidate in every ward on the Isle of Wight for May 2017
Vanessa Churchman (Havenstreet, Ashey and Haylands ) Independent 2009 elections, lost to the Tories in 2013 as an Independent, now she’s back as a Tory, and she lives in Luccombe.
In Ventnor Cllr Perks defecting to the Tories, he was UKIP, Also Ewan Smith-Wainwright an ex UKIP member just joined the Tories, living in Ventnor and standing for Godshill and Wroxall.
Julie Jones Evans, (ex Tory, jumping ship during her current term 2013 to date, to become an Independent), voting with the Tories on many occasions. She is now standing as undeclared.
Stephen Hastings, is also standing in Newport Central. Standing in Newport East against the incumbent Geoff Lumley]. Presumably Mr. Hastings a Portsmouth Councillor for Baffins Ward 22/05/2014 – 03/05/2018 term of office, Tory then UKIP for two years, Elected UKIP MAY 2014, then back to the Tories within days after the General Election in May 2015 !! and now here on IOW. Should have resigned after being elected for UKIP then within a year defecting back to the Tories.
Cllr Whitehouse lives in Totland, standing in Newport again
Paul Brading Lake South, Gary Peace Ventnor, Who are the candidates standing in Brading St Helen’s and Bembridge ? Binstead? Not many of the local electorate has ever heard of any of these.
Mr and Mrs Collis live in Ryde, he is standing for East Cowes, she is standing for Ryde East , she lives in Ryde. Richard Hollis lives in Cowes, he is the candidate for Parkhurst
Gerry White is now standing for UKIP ? He was the local Tory candidate meant to stand in Lake North and has been involved in many fund raising events for the Tories.
The Conservatives have their two voting partners Richard Priest and Jon Gilbey there already, also ‘undeclared’ as to party/political affiliation but last time Priest was an Independent.