BLOG: Where are all the independent candidates?

Crawley Observer chief reporter Karen Dunn asks why more independent candidates do not stand for local election.

With just over a month to go until the county goes to the polls, it is interesting to reflect on how many independent candidates will be standing.

Not many, is the simple, frustrating answer.

All the old favourites are there – Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats – with the odd Green or BNP hopeful dotted around and the rise of UKIP starting to make things half-way interesting.

But what about the people unwilling to be dictated to by a political party?

What about the people who, when it comes to casting a vote, making a decision or expressing an opinion, would do so based solely on what they believed to be right?

Cast an eye over the results of borough and county elections for the past few years and there are precious few stand-out independent performances.

Embarrassingly, the figures show that some of them could barely even secure enough votes to scrape into triple figures.

That’s probably fewer votes than they have names in their address books.

So why are voters so reluctant to put their cross next to a candidate who has chosen to go it alone?

We’ve all taken part in conversations – those ‘put the world to rights’ discussions – where we have lambasted the party in power only to counter it with the observation that “they’re all as bad as each other”.

So why don’t we have the courage to give some one else a chance?

Is it because independents often come across as being “one issue candidates” and we simply do not trust them to put as much effort into balancing our town or county budget as they would into getting the potholes fixed?

Is it because the best that can be said of some candidates is that they are “characters” and we doubt that they have the wherewithal to do more than criticise anyone who does not think along the same lines as them?

Both assumptions are fair comment when it comes to some but are wildly unfair towards others.

But, while most people don’t even bother to vote, and others make their decision when they are in the polling booth, pencil in hand, what chance is there for the new talent to flourish?

Until we as voters start to put some proper thought into who we want to represent us at local, national and international level, it will be a case of same old same old.

And we risk smothering the few bright sparks which may have it in them to light a fire under local politics.