Tuesday 26 April 2011

The Trouble with Independents

Much has been said about Independents in the Fenland elections, much of it positive and much of it about the benefits of being free from party political influence.

But, is that freedom always a good thing?  People might disagree with and vote against a candidate because he belongs to a political party they don't like, that is fair enough.  But, do you always know what an Independent stands for?  Some people will vote for an independent just because they have that tag against their name, but it is possible to stand as an independent and have extreme communist or facist views.

There is another point about belonging to a political party.  As a Conservative I know that if I say or do the wrong thing, I will have an agent, or even the party machine or my political group on my back.  Actually the example of Lister Wilson at the County Council is a great example.

Compare that to the behaviour of the independent standing in March West by the name of Matt Broadfield.  Some people will see that he is an independent and vote for him just because of that.   Now look at his profile on the Cambs Times website.  This is, I believe, taken from a web page that is now taken down about a political party that Mr Broadfield is, as I understand it, intending to create.  My own view is that some of what is expressed there is bordering on the extremist - I am sure Mr Broadfield would disagree, but that is my view.  It might also be that his views are not articulated clearly enough and, as a result, they come across poorly.

Now let's look at the issue of behaviour.  Mr Broadfield is a user of Twitter.  His Twitter name is @fen_councillor . That, in itself, is misleading.  To the best of my knowledge Mr Broadfield is not a Councillor - he is a candidate.

Last week - he published this tweet to John Elworthy, the editor of the Cambs Times:

"I posted leaflet, emailed policies 4 my profile, non published, incompetence or bias? I treat unfairness with deserved bile."

and today, in a tweet to me, he referred to John Elworthy as "Elfworthy".    Now I know that John Elworthy is capable of fighting his own battles, but you do have to question the wisdom of taking that sort of attitude with a local newspaper editor (I think this is because he wants the Cambs Times to publish a different profile than the one currently being used).

Today, when I challenged about the approach he was using, I was described by Matt Broadfield on Twitter as:  "typically undemocratic/weak" - I suppose you could argue that is opinion - but there are no facts to back it up and plenty of evidence of me having taken tough decisions in the past.  But when challenged he retorted with "the man campaigning for health and wellbeing yet got more chins than a chinese phone book!"  Given that I have run four marathons, recently ran a 26.2kilometre road race and last year walked the 84mile Dales Way, that comment is nothing more than an empty insult.  Here is the point, if I behaved in this way, I would be dealt with.  In fact, I suspect if that was my behaviour, I would not have been allowed to stand as a Conservative in the first place.

So, my message is this - unless you really, really know what you are voting for and who you are voting for, be very cautious about voting Independent, independence may not offer the benefits you think it does.

I am sure Mr Broadfield will not like some of what I have said here.  He is free to comment and, provided the language is appropriate and free of insults, I will publish.

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