The Independent Network – the national campaign for independent politics backed by Martin Bell – invites all members of The Independent Group to agree to The Bell Principles. These guidelines influence the conduct, but not the policies, of the candidates the Independent Network supports.
When independents agree to abide by The Bell Principles, they could find support from amongst over 2000 independent councillors across the UK as well as The Independent Network.
The Independent Network is already registered with the Electoral Commission in preparation for local, regional and general election campaigns.
Any politically independent office holder, candidate or local political party seeking endorsement from The Independent Network can gain more information from www.independentnetwork.org.uk.
The Bell Principles require commitment to:
- 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;
- claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of their activities.
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The Independent Network exists to:
- create a sense of cohesion and identity for Independent candidates using the Independent Network’s brand;
- establish national credibility for independent candidates – enabling the electorate to vote independent with greater confidence;
- provide support to independent candidates. Many independents do not have access to the same scale of resources of a national political party;
- provide a forum of discussion, experience and advice for independent candidates. Candidates can use the network to share knowledge and work cooperatively in the best interests of the electorate;
- provide guidance and resources for independent candidates that will enable them to be elected at local, regional and national elections;
- promote a fairer system in which independents can compete with political parties;
- promote independent politics and encourage the electorate to acknowledge the success and influence independents are having in local government and Parliament.