I have spoken quite a bit recently about the root causes of apathy and cynicism around our so called democracy. Perfectly illustrated at the first hustings event in Frome on Sunday.
Faced with our main choice of David, David or David to replace the retiring David (with Green Theo and UKIP Alan as alternatives in policy if not in name), the proceedings quickly hit a massive structural problem: Candidates are selected by their political parties and campaign around the party agreed manifesto (set of plans and promises). BUT, the Tory candidate is clear he will vote for what he feels is best for Frome and defy the party whips…. and the Lib Dem points out that in a coalition you have to compromise, so they can’t promise to deliver on anything! So ultimately the manifesto is worthless, making them effectively able to support whatever policy they feel like in reality, while also wheeling in the party faithful….. The other candidates can make any promises they like as they won’t be elected anyway.
Party candidates – at all levels – are entwined with this deep structural flaw. I believe it is part of what confuses potential voters – and turns them off engagement. Only an Independent, clear who they are and what they offer can surmount this.