A Horsham dad of two who is planning to stand against the current MP Francis Maude signed the County Times’ Free Speech Charter last week.
James Smith decided to stand at the General Election in May 2015 after becoming frustrated with the lack of choice, and hopes by standing up and putting across a different view people will be inspired to become more involved and engaged in politics.
As part of ‘Something New for Horsham’ he is campaigning for more openness, honesty and transparency in politics at all levels.
The Charter was launched in response to claims that the ruling Tory group at Horsham District Council whip votes, make key decisions in secret group meetings, and vet letters and articles sent to the County Times.
Mr Smith said: “I think people are growing to dislike party politics. They want to be represented by people who are able to represent their views who are not going to be overruled by somebody else.”
He added: “There’s a desire for more honesty in the system. Party discipline is to entrench power where it already is, it’s to suppress change rather than allowing it.”
The charter reads: “I undertake to speak, write and vote on behalf of my constituents without fear or favour of party discipline. If I am a member of a political party, I will respect its values and honour its pre-election manifesto pledges - but I will always put first the people I am elected to serve.”
Mr Smith described how many people felt disengaged and disenfranchised, while he felt there was a lot of ‘anger and disillusionment’ with Horsham District Council.
He explained: “People have to be brought along with the decisions that are being made rather than being told what the decisions are.
“Making these decisions in closed meetings looks bad. It erodes trust.”
He has an open manifesto and is asking people to get involved. For more visit horsham.somethingnew.org.uk