Independent candidates and small parties made their mark in 2003. So far polling is suggesting that they will fail to do so in May. The latest Scotsman Poll saw the Greens fall to 1 MSP, SSP implode and it failed to account for Margo McDonald or the Scottish Pensioners Party. Opinion polls are bad at picking up support for independence so we should be cautious, however it does make sense that if two major parties are close and battling for power then the smaller parties (and I include the Tories and Lib Dems as well as the very small ones) will probably lose out
Duncan Thorp is the latest to have a go at being an independent. At the age of 29 you could say it is a rather brave move to go it alone. You could also say it was arrogant or egotistical. I'll let you make your own mind up. You can check Duncan's website out here.
Today he issued a media release calling for the Standards Commissioner to investigate the political parties use of the Scottish Parliament, and public resources, to fund their political activity. In his release he says:
"In the Scottish Parliament the political parties are operating mini party headquarters.
"Despite each party having their own privately well-funded offices across Scotland, many workers paid by the parties freely carry out political work in our Parliament with the blatant use of publicly-funded parliamentary facilities.
"Since 1999 there has been a creeping trend towards discreet party exploitation of public money. From so-called MSP staff working time to publicly paid-for computers, telephones, fax machines and other equipment, these are all being used not just for the legitimate benefit of MSPs but for the benefit of the political party machines.
"As we speak party workers will be sitting in our parliament using taxpayers money to write party manifesto's, deal with enquiries about other politicians and political activities, work on election propaganda and draft party conference material. There may also be a case for investigating where the parties use the Holyrood research team, SPICE, when their own private income fails to provide enough researchers.
"Should the public really be forced to prop-up the financial failings of political parties? This is surely an inappropriate use of public money and I have written to the Parliamentary authorities and to the Standards Commissioner to urge them to investigate these dubious practices and take action where appropriate. The politicians must stop abusing our trust and state clearly at what point legitimate parliamentary activity begins and party politics ends."
I actually think he has a fair point. I know from personal experience that he is right. The parties are quite clever at using public resources to fund party work and employment, some even work at the party HQs despite being paid by the parliament.
However, Duncan needs to think again if he believe this kind of issue will propel him into Holyrood as an MSP. This simply won't catch on with the public. It simply proves his background working in the Parliament and would suggest he has not much else to offer us other than being a little peeved at the political machines, one of which he has obviously fallen out with.
My bet would be that Duncan will be job hunting come May 4th. Independent candidates need to have a real local campaign reason if they are to stand a chance, or they need to be huge personalities in their own right. Duncan, no offence, but you don't seem to fit either.