When I first stood for election in 1999 I was told not to expect to win. I was a Conservative – in fact, I still am. I stood in a ward that had never had an ‘Official’ Conservative councillor before, and which was just outside the boundary of the ward in which I lived. It was neither a Labour nor a Liberal Democrat stronghold. Like most of rural Fylde (where our MP Michael Jack had a 10,000 majority), it was an Independent bastion.
The advice I got was “George Bamber has the Catholic vote, he’s been there for 20 years and before that his father was there for 20 years. Just put out a leaflet and smile sweetly on election day. You’ll have more chance in 4 years time.” Thankfully I ignored that advice and persevered during the hard winter months of 1998. In that time, I discovered three key truths about Independents.
Firstly, they can, and do, become out of touch. Their self belief in their independent status makes them complacent. They believe that the national picture does not affect them and that it’s local and that’s it.