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We need independents
10:00am Tuesday 8th May 2012 in Letters
JOHN Mackie’s idea of Big Society independent candidates in parliamentary by-elections (Oxford Mail, April 12) would, I fear, not work in practice because constituencies are too large.
The recent triumph of George Galloway in Bradford would seem to support his idea. But Mr Galloway is a flamboyant character, with time and money for a strong campaign. He is very far from a local volunteer who has quietly worked for his community for many years.
Where independence is both desirable and practical is in local elections such as those on May 3. I was an example back in the 1970s. For several years (1966-1973) I had produced a little amateur newsletter for Dorchester-on-Thames. In 1973, I decided to challenge the local Tory councillor and stood as an independent for the then new South Oxfordshire District Council.
I mounted a short, hard-hitting campaign and won by just 20 votes. I made it clear I would judge each question on its merits and its effects on the less-affluent residents. I was re-elected in 1976 and 1979 with an increased majority each time.
Unfortunately, here in Oxford, the council has long been dominated by party machines. Quite intelligent councillors, whom I know personally, just stick to the party line when challenged, for fear of de-selection.
Similarly, in the county council, whose meetings I often attend, the new leader will be chosen by just 54 Tories who have a large majority of the seats, though they got less than half the votes when elected back in 2009.
None of the 54 represent any part of the city, though to be fair, about four of the city’s county councillors should be Tories to correctly represent the views of city voters. We cannot have genuine democracy in England without proportional representation.
That is one reason why many intelligent, civic-minded people will not stand for election, and why thousands more will not bother to vote at all.
M HUGH-JONES Headley Way Headington Oxford