The Campaign for a Free Parliament exists to support the election of independent MPs to parliament. In addition, it makes proposals for parliamentary and electoral reform in order to create a environment more conducive to a system of governance that is not dependent on political parties.
We would expect potential candidates to agree to our principles for reform, but the details of proposals are a matter for discussion and debate. Our contribution to the debate is intended to be constructive and to show that alternatives are possible.
The Campaign for a Free Parliament is not a political party nor does it have a political programme. It is entirely neutral on the key questions of policy such as the appropriate levels of taxation, how resources are distributed, how public services are provided and what benefits people receive. Individual candidates will have their own positions on these and many other issues.
Apart from our proposals for reform, our main contribution to change is to support the election of independent MPs by establishing a candidate selection process based on primaries, with voters using a secure voting platform to make their choices. Our intention is to limit the oversight of the selection process to ensuring that candidates are genuinely independent, committed to ethical principles and have no connections with extremist organisations. Beyond that, it is for voters to decide on the candidates and the platform they wish.
We do, however, reserve the right to reject applications or withdraw approval from anyone expressing support for extremist views (including racism, antisemitism and religious hatred), or from anyone likely to bring the campaign into disrepute.
Free Parliament will assist selected candidates by offering, on the basis of the candidates accepting the key principles and conditions, £10,000 per constituency candidate. Free Parliament will also enable a crowdfunding site to support selected candidates in raising funds for their campaigns.
Underpinning the process of candidate selection there is a clear set of principles and conditions to which all potential candidates and selection team members must agree and adhere. The objectives are threefold:
- To ensure that all candidates are genuinely independent
- To ensure that all candidates adhere to ethical standards
- To ensure that no candidates have links to extremist organisations or articulate the views of such organisations
Candidates will be asked to agree to to the two key points of parliamentary reform as set out by Free Parliament and to state that they have no affiliation with any political party. The two key points of parliamentary reform are:
- RECALL. An open, fair and transparent system of recall through which constituents may periodically call their Members of Parliament to account.
- FREE VOTES. The extension of the principle of parliamentary privilege for MPs to include protection from undue pressure by any political party, lobby group or whip.
Candidates will adhere to certain ethical standards and working principles. These are set out in the Bell Principles.
We will also ask candidates to confirm that they have no links to extremist parties or organisations. Examples will be given, but we will request – for the avoidance of doubt – that candidates declare present or past associations (up to three years) in confidence. Failure to declare such associations may be deemed to invalidate an application if relevant information subsequently comes to light.
Candidate Selection Team
We are seeking for volunteers to apply to join our Candidate Selection Team. Their job will not be to select candidates for individual constituencies but to filter out ineligible candidates and approve candidates for a central list. The team will include a selection panel, to be comprised of six committee members, and an indeterminate number of reviewers who will asked to consider individual applications. Selection team members will have to sign up to the same principles and conditions as candidates.
There is an online Application Form for applications to both the Approved Candidate List and the Candidate Selection Team.
Initial Review Process
An initial review process will be used to filter candidates using something similar to a ‘peer review’. Applications will go separately to two individual reviewers.
- If both reviewers approve the application, the applicant can go on to the next stage.
- If both reviewers reject the application, the applicant will be sent a letter saying that their application has not been accepted and stating the reasons. If the reason is that the applicant has not submitted full details, they may be invited to resubmit.
- If there is a split decision by the reviewers, the application will be referred to the Panel, which may ask for clarification on one or more points in making its determination.
Applicants who have successfully submitted applications and have gone forward to the next stage will be invited to a selection meeting. This will be an opportunity to meet other candidates, talk to selection team members and engage in discussion and brief exercises. There will be a number of such selection meetings held regionally over a period of time.
Candidates will be asked to pay a small fee (£25) to attend the meeting, but any candidates needing financial assistance to attend (covering the fee and/or travel costs) will be able to apply for help.
A number of selection team members, including reviewers, will be assigned to the selection meetings to assist with the process.
Approved Candidate List
Once candidates are approved by the panel, they are added to the Approved Candidate List and may start applying to individual constituencies as ballots are organised. Constituency ballots will be organised on a rolling basis and candidates will be able to compete in local ‘primaries’ in order to become the prospective candidate for that constituency. We will publish more information on constituency level primaries as they are organised.