Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Bell Un-Principles

The postal voters this week in neighbouring Shoeburyness Ward received some junk mail from our favourite leftie Comrade Anne Chalk.

In an expensive first class mailing, the poor Shoeburyness Ward residents had to suffer the usual annual election time rant. What was interesting was the endorsement from Independent Party/UKIP councillor Mike Assenheim.

In his opening gambit, cllr Assenheim claims that Comrade Anne only narrowly lost in the 2010 elections. Comrade Anne lost by 600 votes to popular local Shoeburyness resident Roger Hadley! I suppose this is close in Cllr Assenheim's world.

Further on Cllr Assenheim tells the residents that the 'Independent Group' on Southend Council only endorse Independent Candidates if they genuinely care for residents. Ommitted from the letter of support to Comrade Anne was the revelation in last Monday's in the Southend Echo that the 'Independent's' have formed an electoral pact with UKIP. Yes UKIP!

I presume the endorsement roughly translated means you can only join our gang if your face fits and you hate the Tories.

Cllr Assenheim then repeats the mantra that by definition Independents are free from Party Politics and each other. Lets look at Cllr Assenhiems actions on this statement:

1. Part of the 'Independent Group' on Southend Council which has a leader who draws a leaders salary from the council and holds party meetings at the Civic Centre at a cost to the taxpayer.

2. He is part of the 'Independent Group' which has formed at electoral pact with UKIP at this year's elections.

3. Stood for the Political Party Alliance Southend in the 2006 local elections

At the end of the diatribe, Cllr Assenheim claims that he and Comrade Chalk subscribe to the 'Bell Principles'. The Bell principle were those set out by former BBC jounalist Martin Bell. Martin Bell famously beat Conservative Neil Hamilton in Tatton over the 'cash for questions scandal'.

In 2005 Martin Bell, Dr Richard Taylor and Terry Waite the former Church of England envoy and assistant to the former Archbishop of Canterbury formed the Independent Network an online resource for Independent councillors or candidates.

The 'Bell Principles' were developed in 2009 by Martin Bell for the Independent Network and are the first code of conduct for elected representatives - they demand that independent politicians behave to those standards. The Independent Network asks that all endorsed candidates and supporters agree to the following principles.

1. 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

2. Be guided by considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, our constituencies and our consciences

3. Be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip How does Cllr Assenheim explain the UKIP pact

4. Be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism. How does Cllr Assenheim explain having four different views on East Beach and using others work as his own in an article for the Southend Older Peoples

5. 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

6. Listen, consulting our communities constantly and innovatively 

7. Treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when we believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when we believe they are right Does this count as respect and courtesy when exposed over the Southend Older Peoples scandal 

8. Resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level

9. Work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson Yep Cllr Assenheim certainly does this but intrestingly this was the only 'Bell Principle' left of the endorsement!

10. Claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of our activities.

All noble principles you may think, but the Bell Principles are very hypocritical. How do principles 3 and 9 work together?
It is even surprising that the Independent Network's resources page even gives tips on how to form your own local 'Independent Party. In a page on how to campaign, one of the founder members Dr Richard Taylor even claims that:
 'You are only allowed the one word “Independent” on the ballot paper unless you have registered as a political party with a title, with or without a logo, with the Electoral Commission (EC). For example our title is “Independent Community and Health Concern” with a heart in hands logo. The word “Independent” is vital to separate us from the main parties and we believe that an extended title is helpful as it gives voters an idea of your aims and may create interest lacking from the single word “Independent”'

Dr Richard Taylor was the creator of the Independent Community and Health Concern Party!

We now know where the Independents in Southed get it from! It is always worth remembering Cllr Assenheim's wife, Evelyn, words in an email to a resident in West Shoebury last year - No single councillor can get anything done on theri own.


Anonymous said...

Mr Cox I wouldn't too over reactionary. I'm neither a supporter of the Independents (who I agree with shamelessly call themselves Independent as they have a group leader) or a supporter of UKIP. However I think you are over playing this UKIP - Indie Alliance I don't think the Independents would be foolish enough to make this pact. I believe that this is coincidence and has only occurred as firstly UKIP could field good candidates in all seats and nor could the Indies. Secondly as the anti-tory vote is what both UKIP and the Indies can win on. I think it’s more likely that UKIP have decided to stand candidates in seats the Indies weren't going to anyway, so at least they have a chance at winning/ becoming main opposition in these seats.

Anonymous said...

* sorry was meant to say "UKIP coulkd NOT field good candidates in all seats" not they could

Cllr Tony Cox said...


All I am trying to do is highlight the shameless tactics the UKIP West Shoebury candidate is deploying.

For doing this he is a fraud and in my opinion is embarassed to be associated with UKIP.

For far too long the Independents have tried to portray themselves as the 'nice face' of local politics and they need to be ruthlessly exposed.