A New Era for Wandsworth Politics?

Malcolm Grimston says he wants more power in the hands of local people

The possibility of a new force in borough politics has been raised with the resignation of Malcolm Grimston from the Conservative party. There is much speculation that a new grouping of independent candidates will be formed to challenge the decades long dominance of the Tories in the borough.

He is at pains to point out that he is not a defector, as unlike those Tories who have recently jumped ship to UKIP, he has not joined another party. The Wandsworth Independent Alliance (WIA) is just a suggestion at the moment and Cllr Grimston is not even sure it will get off the ground. He says it is too early to be clear on how things will develop.

At this stage, along with Rob Richman the Southfields Plaza campaigner, he is looking for 'cast-iron' guarantees about all borough libraries remaining open until the next borough election. Failing that he will be sitting down with other groups within the borough to see how they can interact with anyone else interested in the idea.

He told us, "In my opinion the WIA, if it ever gets off the ground, will not be a ‘Party’ in the sense of members being expected to tow the party line even when they disagree with it. I think we’ll be a loose grouping, held together by a sense that maybe Wandsworth (not just the ruling party) has got the balance between taking decisions centrally and locally a bit wrong and we want to see more power in the hands of local people. But I don’t think we will be applying a whip – in the original Burkeian sense of democracy, anyone in WIA would be free, indeed expected, to use their personal judgment on each issue."

The library issue has become an issue of semantics with opponents of the Council failing to accept that their categorical statement that they have 'no plans' to close any libraries equates to a guarantee that they will stay open until residents would be given a chance to vote on the issue.

There are currently 51 councillors in London not affiliated to the main political parties. In Havering they comprise the largest group on the Council.

October 3, 2014