Independent candidates to the Scottish Parliament are the only alternative vote

Four Scottish Parliamentary candidates are endorsed by Martin Bell OBE backed Independent Network

Four independent candidates to the Scottish Parliament have been endorsed by the Independent Network, the Richard Taylor and Martin Bell backed national organisation for independent candidates and representatives.

The Independent Network endorsement comes one week ahead of the 2011 Parliamentary elections. Andrew McBride is on the North East Scotland list; Alan Hay stands for the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency; Ken O’Neill is on the Lothian list and Caroline Johnstone is standing for the Rutherglen and Blantyre constituency and is on the Glasgow list.

Endorsement required all four candidates to commit to the Bell Principles, thought to be the first set of conduct guidelines created by a political organisation for its affiliated candidates and representatives.

The Bell Principles are used by the Independent Network and its affiliated groups to influence the conduct, but not the policies, of its endorsed candidates. Amongst other things, the principles encourage candidates and groups to be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip, non-discriminatory, and to be guided by considered evidence, their real world experience and expertise, their constituencies and their consciences.

Andrew McBride, Alan Hay, Caroline Johnstone and Ken O’Neill are the first candidates to the Scottish Parliament that have been endorsed by the Independent Network.

Martin Bell OBE, ex-Independent MP and supporter of the Independent Network, said:

“This is a time for independents to challenge the politics of the status quo; it is a time for independent candidates either to stand together in Independent Groups or to help in the campaigns of others.  It is a time for the election of independents, without party baggage but with real world experience, to be a force for honest politics in local government.  They will be answerable not to a political party but only to their constituents and their consciences.”

Ken O’Neill, prospective MSP on the Lothian list said:

"I am very pleased to receive the backing of both the Independent Network and Martin Bell, who is an inspiration to any aspiring independent politician. I am standing as an independent because I want to bring a different view to Holyrood, one that is not beholden to a party or business interests. I’ve spent the last twelve years following MSPs in their work, both for my own interest and also for my job. All the while I wondered when we would have the new future we were promised, with less adversarial politics and looking after the nation's interests. I promise to seek effective co-operation with all parties, regardless of political colour, personality or popularity. I will also conduct my activities transparently and openly, informing the electorate of what I have done and why."  

Caroline Johnstone, prospective MSP for Rutherglen and Blantyre and on the Glasgow list said:

"I could promise you the moon and stars – but my commitment to the Independent Network’s Bell Principles means I’m not going to promise anything I can’t deliver.  If you are fed up with broken promises, if you think you can’t trust politicians, if you’d like to see your money spent wisely and locally to inclusively benefit – as well as all I stand for on justice and fairness –  then vote for the only alternative on 5 May 2011."

Alan Hay, prospective MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said:

“Communities build countries.  My commitment to the Bell Principles reflects and strengthens my commitment to my community. My candidacy is the only alternative to party politics – I have been a community volunteer my entire adult life and particularly want to encourage young people to vote.”

Andrew McBride, prospective MSP on the North East Scotland list said:

"I am delighted to have been endorsed by Martin Bell and the Independent Network.  I am looking forward to hopefully representing people who feel they have been let down so many times by party politics.  I am looking forward to working with Caroline Johnstone within the Scottish Parliament and to promoting a more representative point of view there as it will be my intention to hold regular surgeries right across the North East Scotland Region in towns from Fraserburgh to Forfar, Banff to Brechin and Macduff to Monifieth."

Brian Ahearne, Chair of the Independent Network said:

“Endorsement by the Independent Network and the support for independent candidates from both Martin Bell and Dr Richard Taylor places these candidates amongst an impressive network of independently-minded politicians committed to serving their constituency.”



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The Independent Network is a loose non-profit association that provides support to Prospective Parliamentary Candidates who do not belong to a political party. The Independent Network was set up to provide support for independent candidates, as no other organisation existed to support them.
Independent candidates do not have access to a large national party structure with its human and financial resources.  The Independent Network was formed to attend to this inequality and continues to encourage the electorate to acknowledge the success and influence that independents are having in local Government and can have in Parliament.

The Independent Network does not impose any political views on the individuals and parties it supports or that support the Independent Network. However, affiliates of the Independent Network must be non-racist and non-discriminatory and adhere to The Bell Principles.

The Bell Principles require that all endorsed independent candidates:

  • abide wholeheartedly by the spirit and letter of the Seven Principles of Public Life set out by Lord Nolan in 1995: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
  • be guided by considered evidence, their real world experience and expertise, their constituencies and their consciences
  • be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip
  • be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism
  • make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based
  • listen, consulting their communities constantly and innovatively
  • treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when they believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when they believe they are right
  • resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level
  • work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson
  • claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of their activities