The Independent Network and Martin Bell OBE have endorsed Ken O’Neill, Lothians’ newest independent candidate. The Independent Network is a non-profit organisation that provides support to candidates who are not members of political parties. Mr O’Neill is one of four independent candidates standing at the Scottish Parliament elections endorsed by the Network. All candidates had to commit to the Bell Principles, which influence the conduct, but not the policies, of the endorsed individuals. The principles encourage candidates to consider all the evidence, make use of their experience and expertise, as well as listen to their constituencies and their consciences. Candidates are also encouraged to abide by the spirit and the letter of Lord Nolan’s 1995 Seven Principles of Public Life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
Martin Bell, ex-Independent MP, BBC journalist 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 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.
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
I’m hosting a Question and Answer session on Tuesday 3rd May from 7-9 PM upstairs in the Hall at the Forest Café, 3 Bristo Place Edinburgh, EH1 1EY.