Is the party over?

If you’ve come here expecting lots of commentary on “Winsor Part 2”, then I’m sorry to disappoint, but it’s just soooo long that I haven’t read it all yet, and haven’t the inclination to pretend I have (unlike a few people). And besides, this will be debated for months on end, whereas I have something for you that’s smaller and quieter than the hurricane blowing round Winsor, but very possibly could be the first hint of something important.

Three days ago, TopOfTheCops received a tweet from someone named Gordon Sandilands, announcing his intention to stand as an Independent in Cumbria. This is important, because Independents are like hen’s teeth, as for that matter, are publically declared candidates in Cumbria. So we told the world.

Tonight, another tweet, and a few emails. Mr Sandilands is withdrawing his candidacy. As agreed with him, I’ll let him explain why:-

Could you please announce on your web site that I have withdrawn my intention to stand as an independent candidate for Cumbria.
I am currently working a 6 month resignation period and under estimated the sheer magnitude of media attention that my announcement to stand would attract.
I currently have some 1400 personal emails requesting information and interviews which is of course impacting on my ability to fulfil my contractual obligations to my current employer.

Gordon’s campaign had been running for just over a week, and featured a small website. One of the sections on that site was called “campaign assistance”, and included the following.

“To assist me to run an efficient and effective campaign, I am calling upon people of Cumbria with a variety of backgrounds and experience, to volunteer to undertake various roles.
Unlike the political parties, I don’t have a large machine or budget behind me, but this won’t deter me from standing for election to be a true representative for you.

The assistance required would be delivering letters, talking with potential voters and various administration roles.

I alone, can’t afford to buy the right to represent you and further call upon supporters for assistance in raising the £5,000 deposit which us Independent candidates must find. This deposit will be refunded in full once I reach 5% of the votes cast in this election – I am confident that any assistance will be repaid in full.”

So I asked Mr Sandilands to break down those 1,400 emails. Turns out that about 30 were from the media, with the remainder being financial and campaign assistance offers and general enquiries about his proposed solutions to issues.

And that’s what’s important. A candidate in an area devoid of candidates said he was fed up of political parties and would people join together to help him stand. And they did – to a greater degree than he could deal with right now. And this level of interest was shown over 7 months ahead of an election that supposedly no-one knows about.

Now maybe Cumbria is different. Maybe their Police Authority’s past elaborate courtship with Lancashire wound enough people up about their county vanishing. The reported level of interest seems exceptional for one person, even with as much traffic as this site has been getting. Or maybe the latent level of anti-politics in this country means that asking people for help works.

So those Labour hopefuls who got the wrong kind of email this week, and their equivalents in other parties, must at this moment be wondering whether they really need their party as much as their party needs them.

Is the party over?

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3 Responses to Is the party over?

  1. Sam – I am confused – is Mr Sandilands still standing or not? I see that his website is still live – but your article seems to suggest that he has withdrawn his candidacy. I may have misread what you say above – but please would you clarify. Thanks.

    • samchapman says:

      He says he is withdrawing his candidacy. I’ve suggested that, as he still appears to be working his notice, and as that will finish before the election, he may need to clarify his intentions. I suppose it reflects the fact that, for all our talk of who is and who isn’t a candidate, they only really become a candidate when their name is on the ballot paper.

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