Martin Bell, Mayor Egginton and Tom Bletsoe launch Independent Network local elections campaign.

Martin Bell OBE, the former Independent MP, joined Tom Bletsoe, the UK’s youngest elected politician, and Tony Eggington, the first independently elected Mayor, to launch the Independent Network’s local election campaign .

For an election campaign that has not captured the media’s attention the Independent Network’s local election launch received excellent coverage. Martin Bell spoke on BBC Radio 4 at the crack of dawn before joining us at the Pleasance Theatre for the press conference. Experienced independent campaigners – such as Martin Bell and Mayor Egginton - joined the politicians of the next generation – such as Tom Bletsoe – for the first time.

The launch press conference was covered by BBC Radio 4, BBC News (http://bbc.in/gKM7GD), Total Politics (http://bit.ly/gBDtkS) and Politics.co.uk (http://bit.ly/fc4MP8).

BBC News quoted Martin Bell as stating that "It is time for the election of independents, without party baggage but with real world experience, to be a force for honest politics in local government.

"They will be answerable not to a political party but only to their constituents and their consciences. This event is a unique opportunity to meet other people who wish to stand for honest politics, and to create an alternative to party politics."

Whilst they balanced his experience with Cllr Bletsoe’s youthful enthusiasm: "I'm living proof that young people can get elected.

"The election campaign is a great experience where you have to learn a tool-kit of new skills, and if elected you're given the opportunity to represent your communities and have a say in how your council is run."

Total Politics, in an article entitled ‘Independent candidates are a viable alternative in the May 5th elections’ was especially complementary writing It was really quite strange, in a nice way, to go to a campaign launch that did not involve the speakers using the event as a platform from which to criticise their political opponents. And the launch provided food for thought: is ideology necessary when dealing with local issues?’ and quoting Martin Bell promoting independents at a local level: “parties do not have a place in local politics, as you don’t need an ideology to guide you on local issues such as waste collection and environmental health.”

The politics.co.uk article was similarly positive – focussing on the hope that young people might be encouraged to get involved in politics especially if they knew that theyu needn’t compromise to the politices of a party: “Young people are being encouraged to stand as independents in local politics today, as Martin Bell promotes non-party politics in the UK.”

The press conference in full can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/g3uHq3.

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