Friday, 29 October 2010

Time for SANITEA?

If you're clued up with our Twitter and Facebook then you won't have missed news of 'Sanitea'.

Tomorrow over 60,000 people are expected to descend on Washington DC. They will be part of Jon Stewart's (of The Daily Show fame)'Rally to Restore Sanity'. The rally is a response to the grass-roots organising and rallies of the US tea-party (or independents') movement. It's about trying to open up a space, in US politics, for collaboration and dialogue, reasonable argument and sane discussion.

In the UK we, at the Independent Network, have been keeping an eye on the development of the US tea-party movement. We're a little worried that the tea-parties taking place across the Atlantic aren't keeping with the tradition of a tea-party: to have a civilized chat over a sanely sipped cuppa. We're also worried about their use of the name 'independents'. In our opinion the true measure of an independent is whether their policies grows from the firm foundations of the Bell Principles. These principles are all about a non-discriminatory, pluralistic and responsive politics. Currently the independent or tea-party movement in the States shows little commitment to such a set of principles.

So. We got thinking. We wondered whether we might hold our own Rally4Sanity in support of Jon Stewart's venture. But the more we thought about it, the more obvious it seemed that all things 'tea-party' belong to a very long British tradition. Instead of holding a rally we decided that the best way to reclaim the tea-party and the cause of an independently-minded politics was to hold a tea-party. And not just one tea-party, but three - across the regions and in London.

The setting for our London tea-party is Hays Galleria - the first and largest wharf for ships bringing tea into London (est. 1856) - in the Horniman pub. The Horniman was the name of the most prolific tea-merchant.

We will meet. We will drink tea. We will chomp on cucumber sandwiches. We will have political discussion and an opportunity to establish what independent politics is all about. Then we will look at our watches and decide, calmly, that it's time to go home.

Join us between 1pm - 3pm tomorrow because independent politics can be returned to Sanitea.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Gearing up to the Local Elections 2011

Welcome Independents and those independently minded.

We've been a little quiet since the General Elections 2011, consulting local politicians and supporters of independent politics on where they would like to see us focus over the next 18 months.

The overwhelming response has been in support of a local election focus. As some of you may know our next elections are May 2011 when the majority of local authorities will hold elections. Independents already enjoy an impressive presence in local government, as independent councillors are often best suited to working passionately in the interests of those who voted for them - the people they represent. Unlike party politicians, independent candidates will not bow to a party whip nor forget their constituents in their ambition to climb a party ladder. Instead they are usually local people who stand on local issues of real importance to their local communities. Many would say that this kind of 'politician' or 'community leader' is best suited for local politics, and can be far more effective than a party politician.

Over the next few months we will work tirelessly to support the brave community leaders who choose to stand for reelection or election to local government. As well as endorsing candidates and independent groups who have signed up to The Bell Principals; we will collate best practise resources for local election campaigning as well as organising events to raise the profile of independents nationally.

But to do all of this we need your help, your passion and your input. Get in touch if you are planning to stand as an independent; if you are part of an independent group or if you are planning to form an independent group. If you don't want to stand yourself but could offer your time or experience to local election candidates then please let us know. If you can't give your time then please consider donating to allow us to continue the work that we do.

More very soon and in the meantime we look forward to hearing from you!