The news that one of Forest Heath's Independent councillors has formed a group called the West Suffolk Independents, with the intention of supporting independent candidates in this year's District Council elections, is interesting indeed.
Simon Cole, who represents Exning, has said;
The aim of WSI is to bring more common sense – and less party politics – to our district, town and parish councils and act in the best interests of the whole community. There is no party whip so members are truly independent and can act as they consider fit and proper for the benefit of residents.
Frankly, I object to his assumption that independents bring more common sense to the role that those who fly a political flag - they may do, but there's no inherent reason why they should. Many district councillors want to serve their community, and their political affiliation gives the average voter an indication of their likely approach if elected. Independents, on the other hand, offer you no steer as to the philosophy they will apply in office unless they decide to tell you.
Besides, what common sense may tell you, and it will tell different people different things, may not be what the law permits, or what central government deems necessary. Common sense tells some people to close libraries to protect social care, and others that they are a key element of a civilised society and must be retained. Both arguments may be right, even if they are contradictory. Common sense will tell you to balance the budget, but Eric Pickles tells you that any rise in council tax at or above 2% will trigger a referendum, which you can't afford.
And, Mr Cole, what sort of independents will you be supporting? Any kind, or just the type you approve of?
We'll see what this actually means in due course, although the prospects for independents in a General Election year are not great. In the meantime, one can only welcome a new player in the local politics of West Suffolk, and may the best candidates win!