Changing the System: Renew’s View on Electoral Standards

Annabel Mullin, Party Leader

Renew has been clear from the start: we want to change the system. But the system isn’t just bloated political institutions in local councils and Westminster; it’s also the local grassroots. In our country only 1.6% of voters join political parties, which means our candidates for elected office are selected from a tiny portion of the population. We want that pool of candidates to expand by encouraging people from all walks of life to stand for election and improve our failing political class.

Making sure political involvement works for ordinary people should be part of this. For example, as a mother, I’m not that keen to leaflet on a Saturday morning - I think the system needs to work more with people rather than against them. Just as parliamentary sessions and local council meetings happen at ridiculous hours, so do campaigning events. It wouldn’t be difficult to change this with feedback from ordinary people. With the clever use of innovative technology, we can update the way we work in politics as we do in other industries.

However, in other ways the process of standing for election needs to be managed more tightly. The rules on becoming an MP are less restrictive than those on people standing as a local councillor. This seems wrong, since all elected officials work with vulnerable individuals. Yet MPs make the law and don’t seem to like curtailing their own freedom or privileges. We would like to see basic disclosure (DBS) checks to increase transparency for candidates. It is only right that they are part of the process – it will increase openness, trust and honesty.

Following the seven principles of public life is a good start for candidates, but we need a far more accountable national standard for those who wish to represent us in politics. Just as businesses have modernized for the 21st century, so too should our political representatives. We’d like to set out a clear strategy for candidate selection that allows non-members to be informed about the basis on which choices are made.

In a world where we have consumer protection so that you cannot be misled or given false or misleading messages, leaving out facts and using aggressive techniques should surely be tackled in politics too. We think it is long overdue that the same ethos applies to the people who run for elected office. Many people feel that now is the time for a new approach beyond the tired divide of Left versus Right - one that puts people before politics. Let’s Renew democracy in the UK.

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We need inspiring people from all ethnic, religious and social backgrounds to stand for parliament and support us in every part of the country. We have a positive vision to make Britain better and more equal than it has ever been before. We want this country to be open to Europe and the World, a place where anyone can become wealthy but nobody has to live in poverty.

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