Last week’s issue of the Carmarthen Journal did its best to tackle the thorny issue of how to treat all candidates fairly when so many of them are standing as ‘Independents’. It’s easy to get a statement from each of the other political parties; they all admit to being a group standing on a common platform. It’s not so easy when dealing with people who claim to be ‘independent’. The paper couldn’t really give equal space to 70 or more candidates.
However, the Independent Group’s co-ordinator has come to the rescue by providing a statement on behalf of all the members of the group. In it, she sets out a number of commitments which the group is making to the electors; sounds a bit like a manifesto of sorts, albeit a very short one.
In the same issue of the paper, the current council leader also sets out her group’s ‘vision’ for the council, but is quoted as saying that the group “cannot produce a manifesto as they are independents, but the group had discussed their priorities”. Hence the question in the headline.
Does a list of promises and collective views on the future, even a very short list, really only become a manifesto when it is written down and published in a document with ‘manifesto’ written in large letters on the front cover? I think not. But then I also don’t believe that a group of politicians seeking election on a joint platform and forming a group once elected to promote that platform only becomes a party when it registers as such.