The COI (Coalition of Independents) is a politically neutral organisation created in order to help independent candidates win votes in constituency parliamentary elections. We are not a political party.
We are politically neutral in terms of the left/right divide but we do, for the forthcoming election, have a driving philosophy: that of defending the democratic process and improving it. We’ll select and support candidates who wish to see a clean break from the EU and who also support a fairer voting system. We’ll choose left-leaning candidates in strong Labour areas and right-leaning candidates in Conservative ones. We will be asking voters to step away from their preferred parties; it would be an ask too far to also expect them to support an opposing political ideology.
The intention is to help independent parliamentary candidates get elected by funding their campaigns, helping with administrative matters and electoral information, and providing them with that all-important credibility of support that independents generally lack and which identifies them as an unknown quantity on the ballot paper.
In general elections, people rarely vote for independents, even when the existing parties are not an attractive proposition. There are many reasons why this occurs but a major one is the unknown and unsupported nature of the independent. A critical role that the COI will play is in seeking and selecting quality candidates, and the selection process will be more thorough and egalitarian than any political party would undertake.
When our independents stand, their electorate will know they have been through a tough selection process, they will be people of quality with CVs to match and we’ll ensure that comprehensive information about them and their political ideology will be delivered through every door in the constituency.
Voters like to think that the person seeking their vote has the confidence of others. In the case of a political party candidate, this testimonial is automatically conveyed, by virtue of standing for a known political party. The COI can provide a better quality of candidate because our independents will be subject to a more comprehensive selection process. The difference will be that party loyalty, back-scratching, chums or the children of chums being parachuted in, will play no part in our determinations in choosing the very best candidates.
Timing is everything. In more normal times, when electors are simply fed up with their political masters but not enough to get them to change their vote, the independent candidate has little chance. However, with the Brexit fiasco being played out by all parties and for all to see, the current standing of our political elite has never been lower. Both this Conservative government and the unbelievably disorganised rabble of the official opposition has left many people angry, not just a bit irritated but livid. The milieu of desperation and disgust that has been fermented by the incompetence and betrayal of our political elite has created an ideal opportunity for the clean and incorruptible image of the independent candidate to emerge. There will never be a better time to offer voters an acceptable alternative.
A political party can (usually) only choose a candidate from amongst its members. Memberships range from a handful to a few hundred, and in the current Labour Party maybe a thousand or so. In general, though, ordinary people don’t join political parties, and even if they do, many do not stay for any length of time. Of those that do join, only a very few are prepared to take on a formal role, whether that is a committee role or an elected role. The result of this general apathy is a very limited pool of talent and ability from which to select candidates for office, particularly for council elections. There are usually a few who would enjoy the ego boosting experience of parliamentary candidacy, but they are rarely the right person and would never get the opportunity if there were the slightest chance of winning. This is how we populate our legislature with incompetents and apparatchiks.
This void of excellence provides a breeding ground for the political chumocracy, where the party chief officers parachute friends, family and the apprentices of the political world to stand in constituencies in place of local selections. In a way, this makes some sense because of the absence of suitably qualified local party members, but it is a corrupt process and has led to the debacle we see unfolding before our very eyes.
In time, the COI can choose its candidates from the entire population of a constituency electorate, some 70,000 people. For the next general election, with Brexit probably being a massive influential factor, over 50%, some 35,000 electors, would likely support our initial aims and objectives. It clearly follows that the probability of getting a top-quality candidate is significantly increased.
As well as helping selected independent candidates with their campaigns and providing technical, promotional and messaging facilities, we want to maintain this overall support indefinitely by offering research and administrative support as well. Political parties, including the Lib Dems, have huge financial resources, little of which is directed to ongoing support for elected officials or candidates. We would do this differently.
That something needs to change is unarguable, that such change will have to overcome an FPTP voting system which works to sustain the status quo is also a fact. New political parties will eventually, even if successful, be drawn into the same soft corruptive practices that so bedevil our political system, so the case for the independent parliamentarian continues to grow.
Our message is vote for people, not parties, vote independent to initiate the changes so desperately needed. Find out more and register your interest at coalitionofindependents.org.