How independent is Independent?Posted: March 14, 2012
Letter submitted to the Carmarthen Journal, not published as yet.
Elections to Carmarthenshire County Council will take place on May 3rd. I would like to draw attention to the confusion that can be caused by the use of the word ‘Independent’ when candidates are seeking election and after they are elected.
‘Independent’ pertaining to a politician means “not committed to any party”, according to my Chambers dictionary. In the past I have voted for ‘Independent’ candidates in the belief that, once elected, they would be free to represent their communities actively and without the constraints of having to toe a ‘Party Line’. This is not necessarily the case in Carmarthenshire because the Independents have formed a group, a small Party in everything but name.
I wonder if Independent councillors should change their label? We as voters need to know that candidates are describing themselves accurately, especially as it is difficult for the public to follow the process of policy making. Council meetings are in the daytime when many voters are at work, and interested members of the public are, in any case, discouraged from attending because of the humiliating ‘good behaviour’ undertakings that everyone must sign. Given the prohibition on recording the council’s meetings, and the abbreviated nature of the published minutes, the fact that ‘Independent’ councillors are members of a Group may not be entirely obvious to every voter.