Morus comes off the fence
It’s crucial for the integrity of PB.com that we are completely open about our allegiances and biases. Our Genial Host makes no secret of his Lib Dem membership, and I now need to be open about my allegiance. I have always been non-partisan, though never neutral, and still cannot bring myself to align with any of the political parties. For that reason, I’ve recently accepted a job helping run a new national campaign to support Independent candidates run for public office.
The Jury Team, as it is to be known, is the brainchild of former Tory grandee and captain of industry Sir Paul Judge. He has written a book, ‘The End of the Party’, railing against the abuse of democracy and government by the partisan system. The campaign is based upon the premise that by electing Independent candidates with the sole shared aim of better governance, we can clean up British politics.
We need to make our democracy more open, our politicians more accountable, and our government more transparent. That won’t happen as long as the party oligarchies retain a stranglehold on our democratic choices. We need to have a group of people, chosen from outside of the closed shops that political parties have become, who will remain free of the party whip and unite only to ensure that politics and government are improved from the sorry state in which they currently reside.
We are running an Open Primary, where anyone can put themselves forward (with limitations only to disallow extremists) and voting will be open to all by SMS. The winner(s) will get the top of the party list (registration as a party is a necessary evil) for the elections in June, and pending proof-of-concept, we will run candidates for Westminster and Holyrood and the Senedd thereafter.
The European elections offer the best chance for a new organisation to break through – Proportional Representation, spending limits ahead of a General Election, with the focus on Local Elections held the same day. Also, by virtue of the Open Primary, I would be surprised if our candidates were not the best-known in the country by election day – MEPs are still largely anonymous, and we believe that we can capitalise on that.
We have conducted a YouGov poll (more to follow soon on that) and a number of Focus Groups as part of our due diligence. Our Launch will take place next Monday (16th March), when people will begin to be able to put themselves forward. In the current climate, with the daily stories of sleaze and corruption and anti-democratic measures, there will be no better time to challenge the major parties on their shared failings, and to provide a non-extremist haven for those who are too disgusted to lend their support to the major parties any more.
We are aware of the challenges we face, but this project is too important not to be given a chance. We hope to send a message to the major parties that politics must change, and must change now, if the downward cycle of disengagement is to be stemmed. As well as the obvious aim of getting our candidates elected, we hope to inspire and shame the major parties into adopting both our methods and our proposals for better governance.
The story is breaking today in the Sunday Times, with Sir Paul giving his reasons for starting the project in an OpEd (‘It’s time to change the Turkeys’) in the same paper. Both are worth a read, and I’d be interested in your thoughts.
Full details of the project can be found at http://www.juryteam.org and I will be writing for the blog, Open Source Democracy, in an effort to build a campaign that can take advantage of the internet as a tool for decentralised politics.
In the interests of full disclosure, I hope you will forgive me for keeping this from you the last few weeks. I think this should come as no surprise for those of you who have believed my past protestations of non-partisanship, and I hope that many of you will get involved in what I hope will be an entirely new way of politics in the UK.