But look what the current system has produced...could I do worse? Suzanne Moore stands for parliament

Without the prospect of real change, one of the UK leading left-wing commentators decides to stand as an independent in East London
Suzanne Moore
11 April 2010

Suzanne Moore is standing as an independent. She says why in today's Mail on Sunday.

Right! So I just got off the phone to someone from Electoral Services who had to hand me to his manager to answer my endless questions. Faced with complicated forms I feel somewhat defeated, which may not be an auspicious start to my political career. But at least it is a start.

I have before me the nomination papers to stand in the General Election. I even have an appointment to hand them in. I am going through the small print and can’t work out if my own children can nominate me.

They can, apparently, and when I told them of my latest plan they laughed knowingly, as if standing for Parliament was another instalment in my midlife crisis. But I am going to be a candidate. 

"You may campaign and refer to yourself as a “candidate” from the moment you intend to stand,’ says the guide, so I know I can say that now.

And before anyone asks, this is not a ruse or a joke or anything to do with this newspaper. I am going to stand as an Independent for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

This is not simply a moment of madness  but something I have been thinking about for a long time. And left to the last minute.

I have written and thought about politics for aeons and met most of the key players. Like many, I can be cynical and bitter and feel nothing ever changes. Also, like many, I probably feel even more disillusioned with those whose politics I am closest to, which in my case is Labour.

It was not simply the Iraq War that finished it for me, but the widening gap between rich and poor, which, after so many years of a Labour Government, is simply shameful.

The new Tory thinkers are also fairly relaxed about such inequality, saying it is the price we pay for trying to tackle poverty.

This is equally unacceptable so I have no illusions about the Tories whatsoever. The kind of cuts they are talking about will further devastate the part of London where I live.

Cameron can hang out with as many cool-looking social entrepreneurs as he likes and Osborne may intone that we are all in this together, but we are blatantly not. A Tory Government will reek of entitlement and privilege.

Half Darts/Half Darcy Dave and his fragrant wife can pretend to be ordinary but in no way do they represent me or most people I know.

So again, like many others, I don’t feel this Election is offering me any real choice. I like the Lib-Dems’ take on civil liberties, but the main parties are too close ideologically with many interchangeable polices. Their differences only seem to be about the timing of the inevitable ‘cuts’.

The economic crisis has closed down discussion. The parliamentary expenses scandal has exposed a  rotten, tired system that is broken yet unable to reform itself. The recent Labour nod to constitutional reform when they have had so long in power feels desperate.

So how will change happen? About 150 of the current MPs are standing down. Who will replace them? More of the same?

As I have said previously, the huge anger among voters, which is wrongly mistaken for apathy, may manifest itself in a hung Parliament. This is a way of saying we don’t actually want any of them. It will require a new way of working and Independent MPs will have real influence as they will be unencumbered by party baggage. This is one of the reasons I want to stand as an Independent and would encourage others to do so.

Many Independents will stand this time, some simply to protest, some on single issues. We are the underdogs without party machinery to help us. This must be why I am already finding other Independents fantastically friendly and helpful.

This is fundamentally DIY politics and I am learning every day. For as jaded as I may be, I am seeing that the process of democracy is alive if not well. In finding out how to stand I realise that we are made to think that becoming a candidate is incredibly difficult. It is not.

You need £500, ten people who are voters in your constituency to nominate you and you need to fill in the forms correctly. For that money you get access to the Electoral Register and meeting rooms to have meetings in. Bear with me as I haven’t got to that part yet.

Actual campaigning is what costs money and time. The figure of £15,000 has been mentioned, which I don’t have. What I do have is offers of help and lots of talk about leaflets. Leaflets seem to be the thing and they have to be delivered.

Apparently no one can just tweet and Facebook their way to power. Who knew?

I haven’t exactly made things easy for myself as I am standing in Diane Abbott’s constituency and she has a large majority.

In the past, vague overtures have been made to me for a safe Labour seat. For me this is another indictment of the current system.

Why on earth should someone like me be super-imposed on some Northern town I have never been to? I am sure people have enough problems without some pretend local claiming to represent them. Is it naive to think you should know the place where you stand for election?

I know my patch and I love where I live. I also know how unglamorous the problems are: poverty, unemployment, crime, a general feeling of lives closed down before they have properly started. Unlike Abbott, my kids have gone to school here. She has been an MP for 23 years and is now part of the Establishment. Change is needed.

Lots of people have asked me, if I won, whether I would be forced to sit as close to Michael Portillo as Abbott does on TV every week. This just goes to show how little anyone understands of the actual job of being an MP.

I am not saying I understand all of the job either. Indeed, the ridiculous fantasy that MPs are suddenly experts in everything is a hindrance. I hope I can think and learn fast.

Over the years I have met so many dull men and was intimidated by their greyness - but no more! I have always thought I couldn’t do this, as I have had a messy life and don’t like boring meetings or mornings.

But look what the current system has produced...could I do worse?

At least I have done all sorts of jobs besides this one, though access to the media is an advantage, I hope. So cometh the time, cometh the columnist? Or something.

Is it possible to be yourself and stand for election? I shall find out. I want change and I want to know if the parliamentary system can work more directly and be worked by someone outside the system. Can anyone really do this? Can I?

Yes, I hope to have a laugh, of course I do. But I do mean it.

It’s money-where-my-mouth-is time. Only at the moment without the money!

So forms to fill in, manifestos to write, leaflets to get printed up. It all seems rather old-fashioned. It’s a shock to realise that democracy is, too.

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