With nominations going in this week for local council elections it is always interesting to note those councillors and candidates who claim to be independent, but who really are party affiliated.
For example, in Holt (North Norfolk) in the 1999 elections one of the councillors stood as an independent, but then immediately alied himself to the Tory group days after the election. He did the same in 2003 also. So people could justifiably ask under what basis Cllr Mike Baker is independent ? When he was serving a 12 months suspension from the council, the Conservatives stated at full council that he had been elected clearly as a Conservative (despite the ballot paper stating otherwise). This causes further confusion. The Conservative's claim they knew he was being elected as a Tory, so why didn't the electorate know that ?
Another example is another former independent who represented a now defunct seat on the council in North Norfolk until four years ago. He always had a Conservative poster board in his garden at general elections. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to who he always voted with at council.
There is another Independent/Conservative who represents Mundesley. In this two member ward the Tories only put up one candidate against her and she also joins with the Tory group after elections.
There are some genuine independents, certainly three on North Norfolk District Council are (Cllrs Corbett, Tom Moore and Durrant), but how are people to tell the difference when so many Tories muddy the water by claiming independence which is clearly not evident in the Council Chamber ?
The North Norfolk experience is not an isolated one. I have been told of two card carrying Tories in Broadland who stand as independents every election. Funnily enough they then get given positions on committees that should go to opposition councillors. Another sneaky trick !
So when people moan about "party politics in local councils", let us not forget that by showing our party political colours, we have nothing to hide. Independents are great in theory, but in practise are rarely what they claim to be.