On the 23rd January 2010, over 40 candidates and supporters attended a workshop for independent candidates organised by the Independent Network in Birmingham.
The event endeavoured to provide training for independent candidates. Topics covered in the event included the advantages of standing as an independent, fundraising and the daily activities of the UK Parliament.
The sell-out event was extremely popular with no seats left spare. The workshop brought together six speakers including academics, Martin Bell OBE, Dr Richard Taylor and a representative from The Electoral Commission.
The day began with Dr Richard Taylor MP and Martin Bell giving a motivational talk on the current need for independent MPs. Both noted that it is a great honour to be an MP and that you can be extremely effective in Parliament as a non-party member.
Dr Taylor also gave an extremely useful talk on electioneering and campaign tips. During the end of the morning session there was an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions to Dr Taylor and Martin Bell.
Bill Givens kicked off the afternoon with a small presentation of essential campaigning techniques, including traditional and more innovative methods. Bill is a former independent parliamentary candidate and has a wealth of knowledge on political campaigning. One of his suggestions for candidates was that they set up local democracy forums or think tanks to discuss policy ideas.
Professor Colin Copus provided an academic analysis of the current trends of independent politics in local and central government. He also noted the numerous reasons for independents and how independents can campaign differently to their party opponents.
One of the key points of Colin’s talk was that independents have the great advantage of being able to consult and listen to the electorate. They don’t have the arrogance of the all knowing political parties, they can honestly state that they don’t have all the answers and form opinions by listening to their constituents.
Ros Baston posed as the friendly face of the Electoral Commission and gave a small talk on electoral legislation. She also answered questions from attendees on a wide range of subjects from donations to campaign expenditure. Her central point throughout her presentation was for candidates to use common sense and if they had any concerns to contact the Electoral Commission.
Jim Thornton ended the event by discussing online electioneering and social media techniques for independent candidates. Jim’s talk showed that it was very easy to use social media even for the self -proclaimed technophobe.
After the event, attendees completed an online feedback form on Survey Monkey. The results were extremely positive. All stated that the event helped their campaign and one attendee noted the quality of the independent candidates, ‘they all seemed intelligent and thoughtful.’
Joe Hall (PPC for Luton South) says, ‘Birmingham recharged my batteries and sparked new ideas. There's nothing like knowing there are other brave people trying to forge the same path you are. And as a result of the meeting I've had practical help with press releases, photos, the development of my manifesto and more. Great minds think independently, but they support each other too -- thanks for organising the day.’
Interestingly, feedback from the survey showed that 90% of attendees would like to attend future training and workshops organised by the IN.
The IN would like to say thank you to all candidates who provided a donation for the event. As the IN is a non-profit organisation it would have been unable to organise the event without the help of supporters. Donations covered administration and room hire costs.
There are a number of handouts from the event that are available to download below.
These include PowerPoint presentations from Jim Thornton and Bill Givens. Dr Richard Taylor’s handout is available on the Resources section of the IN website.
If you missed the event you can watch video highlights on YouTube.
|Democracy Trust Principles by Bill Givens.doc||22.5 KB|
|Bill Given's Presentation.ppt||450.5 KB|