Having declared myself as an independent candidate and completely free of part politics, a question that has been going through my mind is what power would I have in the council should I get elected.
It is easy to see how a group of councillors from the same party can have a huge influence – if they have a majority vote. It is easy to see how a political party can propose big changes – if they have a majority vote. So what can I do as a sole independent voice amongst 50 other party affiliated council members?
Let me put this scenario to you…
A political party – let’s say the Red Party – holds the majority vote in the council. They put forward a motion which has some merits but goes against the best interests of a group of residents living in a ward represented by councillors from the opposition party – let’s call them the Blue Party. These councillors think that with some compromises and negotiation they could find a way of making this motion work for all residents.
There is a longstanding animosity between the two groups and it’s safe to say they don’t see eye to eye on many things. This animosity means that the two groups never agree. It is almost inconceivable that a Blue Party member will vote ‘for’ a Red Party motion or vice versa even if on a personal level they agree. The closest they can get on this is an abstention of their vote (given that they are also subject to party whipping). This animosity also means, that when it comes to negotiation and compromise, all doors are firmly closed so the Blue Party councillors cannot approach the Red Party to try and improve the outcomes of the proposed motion for their ward residents.
Now consider this situation again with an independent councillor representing the ward residents…
The independent councillor decides that it is important enough to try and negotiate a better outcome for the ward so they approach the Red Party and put forward their ideas about a compromise. The Red Party are a bit stuck in their ways but this councillor is very open minded and likes to explore a wide variety of different options, some they hadn’t even thought of. It turns out that a compromise can be reached with a bit of give and take on both sides. The motion that gets granted is much more desirable to the people of the ward than had no negotiation taken place.
These senarios could both have been written with the Red and Blue Parties in the other positions and still been as valid.
The added bonus is that because I won’t be whipped to vote any particular way I can choose to vote in the way I see best suits Oakwood and Derby. Perhaps in the situation that the Council is very even balanced in colour, it could be a deciding vote.
For both these reasons I would suggest I have as much power and freedom, if not more, than a councillor who is stereotyped into a particular party and required to tow the party line.