Lord Digby Jones lends backing to £10,000 reward for independent parliamentary candidates
It has been confirmed that £10,000 of cash support is being offered to the winners of local contests to find the best independent candidate in every Westminster constituency in forthcoming elections. The move has won the approval of a troubleshooting member of the House of Lords.
The new pressure group, The Campaign for a Free Parliament, has secured financial backing of up to £6.5 million so that candidates can be selected for their ability rather than their political party. The CFP believes that political party warfare – including the internal divisions over the EU Referendum – is impairing the ability of parliament to make sound decisions.
Each constituency in the UK will select a maximum of six applicants to enter a primary competition. The winners will be given £10,000 to spend on their campaign and everyone who takes part or votes in the contest will be invited to crowd-fund the candidate who goes on to fight the election proper.
The move has been warmly welcomed by British businessman and politician Lord Digby Jones Kt, who has served as Director General of the CBI and Minister of State for Trade and Investment. He said:
“What a marvellous idea! This initiative raises the level of the debate and highlights something rotten at the centre of our democratic system. There are hundreds of constituencies across the country where you could put up a sheep in red or blue and get it in. This is a first step towards ending that state of affairs. Special advisers in Westminster, straight out of university, get adopted by a Constituency Selection Committee in an area of which they know little or nothing and inherit a stonking majority; they become an MP, whipped by their Party and do as they’re told in the hope of patronage and promotion. They vote without hearing the debate…. they do what the whips tell them. One day they become a Cabinet Minister; they have done nothing with their lives other than operate in the goldfish bowl of the Westminster Beltway. Some democracy”
All applicants must sign up to the Bell Principles and agree that they will not stand against the eventual winner. Applicants will be required to produce their CV along with a broad statement of principles rather than a manifesto. The CFP believes that policy should be formed after free debates in Parliament rather than being used for electoral bribery on doorsteps.
Campaign Director, Martyn Greene, said:
“Most MPs enter parliament with the intention of implementing positive reforms. However, the more talented and well-intentioned they are, the more frustrated they end up becoming. Although their primary duty is to their constituents, few dare defy the Whip. Not only would their chances of promotion evaporate but they might also face demotion and withdrawal of their party affiliation. Although they could continue as independents, very few ever have and there are currently no independent MPs in the House of Commons. Votes for all’ turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory. Rather than making good use of their new power, by seeking out the best people to represent them, the fledging electorate succumbed to snake-oil salesmen. In derogating their power to political parties, they inadvertently created organisations that would seldom work in their best interests. However, they now had someone to blame when things went wrong. Since then, a great deal has indeed gone wrong but the ability to blame others has become so addictive that political parties still prevail. The House of Commons is now more akin to a gladiatorial arena than a secure base for democracy. As a result few dare enter and the majority of MPs, including our Prime Minister, have never held a position outside of the political bubble. Our campaign is about making sure that the views and aspirations of the electorate are woven into the fabric of Parliament rather than being used for political point scoring or electoral bribery.”
More information can be found at http://free parliament.org.uk