Interesting letter in this week's Carmarthen Journal which highlights the problems of standing as an independent candidate in the forthcoming Council elections here in Carmarthenshire. The true meaning of the word has been twisted into a complete joke by the ruling regime in County Hall who have voted, nearly always, as a tight group at the Leader's bidding and secondary as independent representative of the interests of their ward. This time there are a few real independents, such as myself, who wish to distance themselves from the Group and give the residents a real voice for once.
The Electoral Commission does not allow candidates who are not aligned to a party to put anything other than the single word 'independent' on the ballot paper so caution is advised and before you tick the box, make sure you are voting for someone who will stand up for you and your area with absolute sincerity and will not be part of the current administration.
Here's the letter;
ELECTIONS to Carmarthenshire Council will take place on May 3. I would like to draw attention to the confusion that can be caused by the use of the word 'Independent' when candidates are seeking election and after they are elected.
'Independent' pertaining to a politician means "not committed to any party", according to my Chambers dictionary.
In the past I have voted for 'Independent' candidates in the belief that, once elected, they would be free to represent their communities actively and without the constraints of having to toe a party line.
This is not necessarily the case in Carmarthenshire because the Independents have formed a group, a small party in everything but name.
I wonder if Independent councillors should change their label?
We as voters need to know that candidates are describing themselves accurately, especially as it is difficult for the public to follow the process of policy making.
Council meetings are in the daytime when many voters are at work, and interested members of the public are, in any case, discouraged from attending because of the humiliating 'good behaviour' undertakings that everyone must sign.
Given the prohibition on recording the council's meetings, and the abbreviated nature of the published minutes, the fact that 'Independent' councillors are members of a group may not be entirely obvious to every voter.
In the summer before the last election in 2008 it was decided as a pilot project to give each councillor £5000 to spend on worthy causes in their ward. Not a bad idea in itself of course. Naturally, it could not be used for political purposes. However, as the 2008 election approached the local papers became liberally peppered with photos of beaming councillors (of the ruling Ind/Lab coalition) pointing to playgrounds etc and giant cheques; as far as I am aware the 'pilot' has not been repeated since then.
This time round I am beginning to wonder whether a rather more subtle approach is being taken. All of a sudden, long awaited for action is being taken to complete various small schemes, for example, locally, crash barriers have been installed after four years of waiting and in Ammanford we have already been treated several times to the not-so-subtle grins of one councillor as a row of dilapidated houses were demolished. I don't think anyone is unhappy at the demolition but, after twenty odd years of nothing being achieved, the pre-election timing says it all.
With even less subtlety, the story repeats itself this week and the smiling Kevin is joined by his boss, Leader Meryl Gravell who has, amazingly, launched herself into this little story for no apparent reason other than photo opportunity.
|(via South Wales Guardian)|
Kevin, Meryl and the