Voters turn on main parties

Poll shows 80% want independent candidates to challenge 'unethical' MPs at ballot box

Voters are clamouring for independent candidates to challenge MPs caught up in the Commons expenses scandal at the next election.



A survey published today discloses that almost 80 per cent of electors believe non-party candidates should stand against MPs caught behaving "unethically". More than half of voters – 53 per cent – said they would "seriously consider" voting for an independent and 63 per cent believed the presence of more independent backbenchers in the Commons would strengthen democracy. Three Tory backbenchers have said they will not contest the next election and several Labour MPs are expected to be barred from standing again. However, dozens of MPs accused of milking the expenses system will face the voters in the election which is likely to take place next spring.

The ComRes survey suggests they could be in danger of losing their seats to unaligned candidates who manage to capture the public mood of anger at MPs. The poll found that 78 per cent of people wanted independents to stand against MPs who had submitted "unethical" claims.

The scandal took a fresh twist last night when the whistleblower who passed the information on to The Daily Telegraph was revealed as John Wick, a former SAS officer. Mr Wick claims he was passed the data by a source in the Commons, but refused to reveal whether he had been paid by the paper.

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that the systematic humiliation" of MPs was threatening Britain's democracy. Dr Williams said the issues raised by the expenses scandal were grave, but that "many will now be wondering whether the point has not been adequately made: the continuing systematic humiliation of politicians itself threatens to carry a heavy price in terms of our ability to salvage some confidence in our democracy".

Ian Gibson, the Labour MP who claimed expenses on a flat where his daughter was living, was referred to the party's "star chamber" yesterday, which will decide whether he should be deselected as a candidate. He has said he is ready to stand down in Norwich North if voters want him to quit.

Celebrities could mount high-profile challenges to sitting MPs. Esther Rantzen, the television presenter, has said she would be "80 per cent certain" to stand against Labour's Margaret Moran, who claimed £22,500 for treating dry rot at a home 100 miles from her Luton South constituency while Lynn Faulds Wood, the television consumer campaigner, said she is considering running for a parliamentary seat.

Phillip Oppenheim, a former Tory minister, is threatening to try to unseat the Tory Andrew MacKay, who resigned as David Cameron's parliamentary aide over his "unacceptable" claims.

Independents won two of the 646 parliamentary seats at the last election – Richard Taylor in Wyre Forest and Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent. Dr Taylor, who has held his Worcestershire constituency since 2001, said he was delighted at the upsurge of support for independents.

He is preparing an advice booklet for people considering standing for Parliament and said: "We need a government with a small majority. If you had an appreciable number of independents, it would keep ministers on their toes because no one knows which way we are going to vote."

Martin Bell, who served as an anti-sleaze MP between 1997 and 2001 after ousting Tory Neil Hamilton, said the expenses furore had made the ground more fertile for independents. He has refused to rule out standing against cabinet minister Hazel Blears at the election and said: "It's always hard to stand against the main political parties. There are no inherited or traditional votes – no one votes for you because their grandfather did."

Jonathan Bartley, from think-tank Ekklesia, which commissioned the ComRes survey, said: "We see the growth in independents as part of a wider process to break open the political system." The Jury Team, an umbrella group for independents, said it aimed to field a candidate in every constituency at the general election. It already has a full slate of candidates in place for next month's European elections.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?