Once upon a time

Imagine a ballot paper with five candidates on it, all describing themselves as ‘independent’. Who do you choose?

You could meet all five, but even the most assiduous of doorstep campaigners meets more empty properties than actual residents. You could go to a hustings to hear them speak – but even well attended hustings rarely break two dozen in the number of unaligned attendees. Most voters will never see or speak to one, let alone all, of the candidates in their area.

You can read whatever leaflets pop through your door. These are not exactly balanced and unbiased, and the vast majority of leaflets are recycled unread.

The candidates could add of description of their general ethical stand: socialist, capitalist, environmentalist, anti-European, fence sitter. These short-hand descriptions allow the majority of voters an insight into which of the independents to support.

The independents could aggregate themselves in groupings of like-minded individuals. The socialists could form a team, as could the capitalists, environmentalists, anti-Europeans, and fence sitters. Within each team the individuals could support each other, share resources, agree a common agenda, maybe even design a logo so as to aide identification. They could democratically elect a leader and other positions that they feel are necessary.

Sometime later another group of independents could come along. They describe themselves as true independents with a major issue for them being opposed to the teams created by the other independents. To combat the teams, the real independents form their own group – an anti-team group.

“We are opposed to teams” says their newly elected leader on literature paid for and distributed by the anti-team group. “Our independents are real independents, and we vet them and officially appoint them”. You can tell the real independents by their unique rosette. “There is no place for teams in local politics” says the group’s leader.

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