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Former MPs urge Norfolk to vote independent in county council elections

PUBLISHED: 13:45 10 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:44 10 April 2013

Former MPs Martin Bell and Ian Gibson. The pair are urging people to vote for independent candidates in next month's Norfolk County Council elections.  Photo: Bill Smith

Former MPs Martin Bell and Ian Gibson. The pair are urging people to vote for independent candidates in next month's Norfolk County Council elections. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2013

Two former MPs have urged voters to turn their backs on the main political parties at next month’s Norfolk County Council elections.

Former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, who spent a term as an independent MP for Tatton and former Norwich North Labour MP Ian Gibson said it was time for independents to challenge the party system.

The pair made their comments at a meeting organised by the Green Party, which was attended by a number of candidates standing as independents in the county council elections.

Mr Bell, who started his career with the BBC in Norwich, said: “My only pitch is to encourage people to go out and vote and to think positively about voting independent to ensure the party system no longer has its arthritic grip on the windpipe of local government.

“It was never my ambition to be an MP, but I found Parliament to be more shocking than any war zone. What shocked me was the extent of the control by the whips and MPs voting for measures they did not believe in. “Of MPs, more and more come from the political classes and have seldom had a proper job. Mine was a bit weird in that I was getting shot at a lot, but at least it was a proper job.”

The Conservatives currently have a majority of 34 at County Hall and Mr Bell said having one party with such control was not good for the people or for the party.

He said: “I do believe we have an opportunity on May 2 to break the mould and independents are very well placed to do that as they are only answerable to their consciences and to their electorate.”

Dr Gibson referred to “grey-faced people” at County Hall and said it was time for people to challenge the established parties.

He said: “We need people to stand up. I wish there was an independent standing in every seat, because the public is groaning under the weight of this coalition and it is going to get worse.

“We need a group of people who will stand up to those grey-faced people at County Hall. Let’s replace them and get people in who have ambition.”

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