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Our mission is to foster the improvement of New Zealand's democratic system and encourage the use of direct democracy through the

Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

English millionaire wants more independents

Sir Paul Judge, a millionaire Conservative donor, is setting up his own political movement called "Jury Team" that aims to get more independent MPs elected.

Sir Paul said that the movement will support and fund individual candidates without espousing any central views or policies.

The aim is to break the traditional party leaderships' control over the political process, he said.

The new movement will work by raising money and mobilising support behind independent candidates with a strong interest in certain issues but no party allegiance.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the Liberty human rights group, is one possible candidate.

The Jury Team will be formally launched next week, but its website is already running, seeking donations and recruiting 12 regional organisers for the coming campaigns.

Sir Paul said that the way the mainstream parties select their candidates and whip their MPs is "about as undemocratic as it gets".

He said: "We think independent people can make good decisions. We use that model for juries. If you put a group of sensible people together and show them the facts, they'll make good decisions."

Sir Paul wants the new group to back candidates at the European Parliament elections in June as a preparation for seeking seats in the House of Commons at the next general election, which is widely expected next May.

There are currently five "independent" members of the 646-seat Commons, including former Conservatives who have lost the party whip like Derek Conway. Only one, Richard Taylor, a former GP, was actually elected as an independent having campaigned against changes to his local hospital in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

Sir Paul ran Conservative Central Office when Sir John Major was Prime Minister. The former chairman of Premier Brands, a major food company, he is said to have a personal fortune of £30 million. Electoral Commission records show he has given more than £30,000 to the party since 2003.

As part of his launch, Sir Paul has commissioned a YouGov poll which showed that 55 per cent of people say they would vote for an independent if they thought that candidate had a realistic chance of getting elected.


Rusty Kane said...

I only wish there was a millionaire here in New Zealand who thought the same way as Sir Paul Judge. And we to could stop the major parties controlling our political process. We need at least fifteen Independents.. It only takes one to start the process, and get the ball rolling and the hopes of New Zealanders thinking that its a real possibility.

Rusty Kane

Steve Baron said...

As someone who stood as an Independent in Pakuranga at the 2005 elections I found it a lesson in total futility. Although coming a very creditable 3rd ahead of a sitting NZ First MP, I was a distant third to National & Labour. It appeared to me that although the National voters may very well have liked to vote for me and what I stood for, they were reluctant to do so because they might let the Labour candidate in. The same applied vice versa to the Labour voters who did not want to let the National candidate back in. People really didn't perceive I had any chance so therefore were reluctant to vote for me. It was especially frustrating given I campaigned almost full time for over six months, knocked on 70% of all the doors in the electorate and spent my allowed amount of $20,000. All in all I believe I put in more time and effort than all the other candidates combined. I enjoyed the experience and gave it 100% like I do with anything I set my mind to but in reality it was never going to happen. Neither do I believe it will happen even with the backing of an English millionaire.

Rusty Kane said...

I to stood as an Independent for New Plymouth and also came third to the two larger parties. Comming third to the two larger parties and beating all other candidates in itself is a great success for any New Zealand Independent. It may only take the backing of a man like Sir Paul Judge to get the minds of the media and electorate thinking that independent candidates with a strong interest in community issues give better value to the electorate than big party politics and big party monopolies. What the people need is confidence the confidence of their independents that it can be done. Not that it can't or won't.
People like Sir Paul Judge give the people that confidence it can be done, the same as financal backer gives confirdence to a sharemarket. It gives confirdence and stability to the possibility that indeed Independents can be voted in, and can make a real difference. Steve's comments after only one try as a Independent saying its not. Shows me that Steve exspect to much to soon "give's up" and by doing so now feeds the views of the public and media that Independents are a wasted vote. I after standing in three general elections as a Independent each time getting closer to my goal of winning an independent seat. Like Sir Paul have the confidence and belief that Independents are vital to our politcal system. It is only a matter of time before the voting public have the confidence and will to see it to.

Rusty Kane
New Plymouth