Feb 21st

Get Tweeting, get putting the word out

By Alan Wallace
This site has hundreds of members who, by definition, are internet social-media friendly.  Can I ask all of you to start following the Jury Team on Facebook & Twitter and more importantly,  start commenting on articles or replying to and re-tweeting tweets?

The more of a ripple we create online, the more chance candidates have of recognition on the streets and on the doorsteps.

We need the name Jury Team mentioned as often and as widely as possible.
Feb 7th

Candidates

By Alan Wallace
The provisional list of candidates (and I apologise for any unintended omissions - this is just a quick update) for Jury Team is as follows -

Epsom & Ashtead Michael Guest
Birmingham Northfield Graham Burton
Dover Anthony Sansum
Bristol South Roger Whitfield
South Dorset Michael Clayton
Brent South Afsin Payravi
Graham Ross
Kingston Upon Thames David Carter
Barking Alex Cartwright Obasola
Jemma Mansel
North Somerset Daniel Davies
Wythenshawe & Sale East William Jones
Chatham & Aylesford Heather Kavanagh
Lewisham West and Penge  Paul Judge
Nuneaton Steve Diffin
Hastings & Rye Andy Dumas
Suffolk Coastal Andrew Parker
Neath John Donovan
Jules Sherrington
Edinburgh North & Leith Frank Kelly
Elizabeth Warren
Gravesham Alice Sakura Dartnell
Middlesborough Derrick Arnott
Joshua Skoczylis
Bournemouth East Steven J Humphrey
Anant Vyas
Sleaford & N Hykeham Andrew Moore
Keith Kennaugh
Forest of Dean John Muir
Gillingham Alan Collins
Dagenham & Rainham Gordon Kennedy
David Hitchman
Arundel & S Downs Mark Mason
Bridgwater WR Cudlipp

This is NOT a complete list, nor is it a settled one. As you all know, Jury Team candidate selection is very much an online process. The website was designed to handle regions for the Euros and has had to be rebuilt and re-formatted for the Parliamentary elections. Look to see the website open for applications within the next 7-8 days.
Nov 17th

BBC Documentary

By Alan Wallace
When we agreed to back John Smeaton in his campaign to win the Glasgow North East by-election, we inherited a tv documentary crew who were filming John for the BBC.  Believing firmly in transparent politics as we do, we happily allowed the film crew full access to the offices and meetings throughout the campaign.  At no time did we ask for editorial control, nor did we seek to influence the film-makers in any way.

As a result, what will be shown is a fascinating insight into the workings of a Jury Team Campaign, especially tackling the unique aspect of an Independent working with Jury Team and all the stresses that are inherent in such a relationship.

Unlike in a Party, we cannot impose upon candidates. We cannot order candidates around or ask them to do anything they don't particularly want to do. We are a support organisation. As will be seen in the film, Jury Team provided significant resources to John Smeaton, giving him the tools to take on the Party machines.

The documentary is "warts and all", as the film crew repeatedly told us (with relish).  It is being shown on BBC1 on Wednesday 18th at 10.45pm. I will be available here immediately afterwards or by email at alanw (at) juryteam (dot) org to answer any questions raised by the film.
Nov 7th

Why Smeaton?

By Alan Wallace
It's a common question. Why Smeaton? What gives John Smeaton the right to think he can stand as an MP? How does his role in the events at Glasgow Airport equip him to represent 80,000 people?

The answer's obvious really. It's not so much his actions - I don't think John did any more than most of us would have done given the opportunity, it was the voice he gave to a nation the morning after when a camera crew grabbed him for a quick interview.

Let's not forget the sense of shock in Scotland at the time. We pride ourselves in being different from the rest of Britain, that we are a happy-go-lucky nation comprised of people loved the world over. Terrorism is something that happens everywhere else, not in Scotland. But as those images of a burning car at the airport filled the news-stands and the flames flickered repeatedly on tellys in shop windows it hit home that maybe the world doesn't really love us. Maybe Jocks are as vulnerable as anyone else and any one of us could have been engulfed in tragedy just by going to an airport to fly out on holiday.

As we collectively held our breath, up stepped a glaikit ginger Weegie babbling excitedly and swinging his arms in the air, descibing what he did and more importantly coming out with a line that caught the imagination - "This is Glasgow - we'll set aboot ye".

The relief in us all was tangible. Across the nation people laughed and said "Good for you son". Suddenly, we were back in our rightful place. Jocks are different after all. The terrible evil that was almost perpetrated by religious fanatics intent on burning holidaymakers to death had been thwarted by Scots. A tale of heroism was being told to us by a baggage handler - who was quick to downplay his own role and point out that others did as much, if not more.

That's why John Smeaton deserved his medal. Not for saving Glasgow Airport but for saving a nation from doubt and self-pity. He took away our fears and made us smile again. The immediate fear amongst the Muslim Community in Glasgow was that there would be an unfair backlash against them. That there wasn't can largely be put down to John Smeaton puncturing the pontificating terror "experts" who flooded our tv screens with dire warnings about the "enemy within". All nonsense of course and a nonsense that we Scots instinctively knew, but it took the excited tones of John Smeaton to help us see through that.

John Smeaton is the everyman for our times. His Sun column regularly strikes a chord with the public in a way that more highbrow, more educated, more academic tomes fail to. He doesn't make any claim to being better than anyone else, he just tells it as he sees it, just as he did outside the airport in July 2007. It's that refreshing straightforwardness that endears him to thousands of his readers and so infuriates rival newspapers.

And it's that same welcome gauche approach that makes him an ideal candidate for Westminster. We know that if we send John Smeaton to Westminster, we're going to get some more straight talking answers. Somebody wrote that John wouldn't be smart enough to fiddle his expenses - well he's smart enough to know that taking money that isn't yours is theft, something that a few hundred MPs failed to recognise so he's ahead of 50% of them right away.

Sending John Smeaton to Westminster might be the smartest thing Glasgow has done in ages. Who can doubt that the media circus will descend upon Glasgow North East if Smeaton leads them. As an Independent untainted by the machinations of Scottish politics he can point to Labour and SNP failures equally and cry "enough". He can embarass the sitting governments in Holyrood and Westminster into finally doing something in the constituency. And be sure of this, after such a slap in the face, if Labour regain the seat in the future they will never neglect it again.

In July 2007, John Smeaton made us proud to be Scots. On November 12th, he can make Scots proud of Glasgow.
Nov 1st

Parties distrust the People

By Alan Wallace
I see Tavish Scott of the Lib Dems has whipped his members back into line. No doubt harsh words were exchanged at anybody daring to speak their minds. The issue at question was that of giving the people of Scotland a referendum on a constitutional matter. The Nationalists have maintained for years that Scots want Independence, despite the evidence of opinion polls.

Why don't we just hold the referendum? Now. Next month. Do it and get it done with.

What are politicians so scared of? Why do the Nationalists want to rig the question and hold a referendum at an exact time of their choosing? Why do the other parties fight so hard to make sure that Scots do not have a say in the future of their country?

This is the 21st Century. The days of sending off some member of the landed gentry to far-off London to take care of our interests are long gone. We are better educated, better informed, better capable of reaching a rational decision on our own than at any time in our history.

We've seen what comes of trusting politicians - they screw us for every penny they can get, then give themselves ermine & grand titles. Politicians are intrinsically untrustworthy, or so it seems. Given all the evidence, isn't it outrageous that THEY don't trust US?

Jury Team believes in putting the whip back in the hands of the people. Politicians work for US. They've managed to twist democracy into some perverted feudal system which sets them up as our lords & masters.

No more.

A vote for Jury Team is a vote for freedom.
Oct 30th

BBC influencing elections

By Alan Wallace
Away from the canvassing, the shaking hands and the snogging of babies by wannabe politicians in Glasgow North East, there's an important battle going on that affects the basic democratic nature of this country. Last week, the BBC held a hustings on a radio show. A hustings is always understood to be an event where all the candidates have a chance to address an audience and answer questions. Well, the BBC version is different because the BBC pick & choose which candidates they will allow on the stand. Whereas the Electoral Commission treats every candidate equally, the BBC feel they are above such equanimity.

Back at the Euro Elections, the BBC made an important policy decision. They decided to award airtime to political parties on the basis of past electoral performance. Because of this, the BNP were given the same airtime as the Greens. UKIP were given the airtime befitting a party that did well at the Euros last time round, totally ignoring the fact that their vote had collapsed in the interim. We saw the result. UKIP went from around 6% in the polls to a resounding success at the ballot box and the BNP gained their first seats.

It's as if the BBC don't understand the effect of the media.

They meddled in politics again last week with a botched hatchet job at Question Time. Whilst I personally agree that the BNP had earned the right at the ballot box (with BBC assistance) to appear on QT, they hadn't earned the right to have the show turned into a soapbox for their policies. And the result? The BNP bounced to 22% in one opinion poll.

Back with the John Smeaton campaign in Glasgow, the BBC continue to play favourites. At their "hustings", they invited Labour, SNP, Conservative & Lib Dem candidates. When Jury Team questioned the omission of our candidate, we were told "Only the top parties were invited". By what measure do they arrive at "top"? John Smeaton has been a comfortable third in the polls since his hat was thrown in the ring. The BBC say they base such decisions on "Past Electoral Performance". Well, because this was the Speaker's seat and convention says honourable parties don't contest against the Speaker, it's 12 years since the Conservatives or the Lib Dems had a candidate here. And when they did contest it over a decade ago, they were utterly trounced.

If we were allocating airtime according to the last electoral test, the Euros, the BNP with the same number of MEPs as the SNP would have to be given equal airtime. Indeed, if only four candidates were to appear on the BBC on the basis of past performance, last week's Brian Taylor "Big" Debate would have featured Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and the Greens.

The truth is, all this chicanery shouldn't be happening. It isn't for the BBC to pick & choose who the public gets to hear, it's the Electoral Commission. Chatting with the Returning Officer, I remarked how his office were scrupulously fair in ensuring that every candidate gets exactly the same treatment. Be it an Independent or the ruling Party, every candidate is equal in the eyes of the law.

We've seen how the BBC can throw elections and lead the public by the nose. The BNP & UKIP owe much of their success to the BBC. This is something that Jury Team is arguing vehemently against with the BBC and it's an argument we will pursue doggedly for the sake of this country.

Jury Team is about better governance. We cannot hope to succeed whilst the State Broadcaster is allowed to meddle in politics and influence elections.
Sep 25th

A long day

By Alan Wallace
Well - today we got the Jury Team bandwagon back on the road.  A lot of new faces but the same enthusiasm. We've made a splash and I'm sure you've all seen the ripples spread through the media in your part of the world.

Our new candidate is a real local hero, but one that has perhaps had a bit of a two-dimensional treatment in the press. It's not until you meet him and chat for a minute that you realise what a fundamentally decent and thoroughly good guy this is.  We know he's Glaswegian and therefore knows all about Glasgow and the problems therein, but he's also an enthusiastic supporter of Jury Team. He has been courted by the SNP in the past and Labour wanted him to stand for them against David Davies. He turned them down because partisan party politics wasn't for him. Interesting to see SNP & Labour supporters looking down their noses at him and saying he's not smart enough to be an MP. He was plenty smart enough when they wanted to pin their rosette on him.

Within minutes of his candidature being announced, the Tory & Labour candidates were eagerly seeking his endorsement. We got e-mails asking John to support this measure or that measure. Well sorry,  John's got his own ideas.

For those that say he isn't up to the job - take a look around you.  Economic ruin, environmental disaster,  never ending foreign wars,  people dying because they go into a hospital, bread & circus politics - can an ordinary man not fail to be an improvement on the 646 clowns that have brought us to this state?

The next eight weeks promise to be ... interesting.  Please visit juryteam.org to keep abreast of the latest developments.
Jun 25th

Why Jury Team is important.

By Alan Wallace
There's been a bit of frustration about the lack of news from Sir Paul and although I sympathise, we just have to be patient. I also think there's a bit of confusion about the nature of Jury Team.

For me, Jury Team is more than a support group. Although the candidates are all independents, JT provides a unifying thread that helps place us on the political map for voters. Agreeing certain principles doesn't make us a party, it's proof that a large group of independents can in fact coalesce around an issue and provide a coherent response - a point that the parties do not hesitate to use against us.

Let's be clear, except in unusual and bizarre circumstances, 300 independents could stand in the General Election and not have a hope of winning a single seat. Why? Because any promise we make to the electorate to achieve manifesto pledge A or commitment B will not be believed.

Let's say I stand on a platform of (say) repealing the smoking ban. Why should anyone vote for me? Even if elected, I'll be a solitary voice with no influence or power to change anything. But if we have 300 candidates standing with the realistic prospect of 50 being elected, the aim becomes achievable and the promise believable.

So Jury Team acts as a force multiplier and gives us a realistic chance of having independent MPs elected.

Sir Paul came up with a number of core principles for the European Elections. Many were about corruption and good governance, but they've been adopted almost wholesale by Westminster. How can we campaign on issues that have been resolved? Until the dust settles over the expenses scandal, we don't know for sure what core principles will remain unsettled.

The next step is the most crucial one. I truly believe that Jury Team offers something fundamentally different from the parties, but it's something that is hard to convey to the electorate - especially in a 10 second soundbite.  To change Parliament, we have to get there. We need a banner to rally around, a hymn sheet to sing from that will make voters want to vote for us. More importantly, we need to have a message that inspires non-voters to turn out at the Polling Stations and vote for us.

A first step is to attract as many people to this site and to Jury Team as possible. Get sending e-mail requests out. Start blogging and joining message boards. Invite everyone you know. Speak to other political activists and explain how they can stand as a candidate with Jury Team now and promote their Green/Left/Right/Libertarian agenda once elected. Speak to exceptional councillors, business leaders or public figures in your area. Explain how Jury Team can support them and empower them.

If Sir Paul sees dozens of people joining the site each day, he might be encouraged.

We're all sitting here waiting for Sir Paul to make the next move. Maybe he's waiting for us?
Jun 8th

In response to a blog

By Alan Wallace
I spotted a blog today from someone who had voted Jury Team and who felt he'd hung his vote on an albatross.

This was my reply -

I felt pretty sick this morning. I went off to the count in Edinburgh knowing it wasn't good. Sure enough, it wasn't. And to rub it in, Labour & the SNP were being as arrogant as ever to the rest of us. I really wanted to smack their smug, self-satisfied faces for the hatred and bigotry they've brought to the country.

So I drove home, depressed.

As I turned into my street, neighbours who were out gardening in the sun came over to the car. "Oh no," I thought, "I really don't want pity".

But to my amazement, they were all beaming smiles and shaking my hand.

"Well done son"

"We're proud of you"

"You had the guts to stand up"

It took a while, but when I came indoors I was a bit stunned.

But think about it. Jury Team is barely 3 months old. I only started campaigning 4 weeks ago, on a shoestring budget. I started with just me & my disabled wife and ended up with 26 people out leafletting and putting posters up. Nobody had heard of us and, with only enough money for 150,000 leaflets, few people got to hear what we had to say.

I was one man with an entire country to cover.

Compare with the Parties who have been campaigning for a year. The BNP spent £500,000 and have hundreds of supporters all over the country to help. UKIP siphoned off £2 million to fund their publicity. The SNP, Labour & the Tories have teams of activists in every major town and mini-buses to transport the elderly & infirm to polling stations. The various socialists all have Union support.

All of them going for a lot longer, with a lot more money and a lot more help.

Then there's the media - 3 thirty second slots and a Party broadcast, whilst the main parties got hours and hours to put their case across. I got a few lines in the Scotsman and got over a dozen e-mails. The parties got full page spreads and editorials almost every day for weeks.

Against this backdrop, more than 6000 people stopped to listen to what we were saying, through the cacophony of noise the other parties were making. They heard our small voice and voted.

I'm not depressed. Over 6000 of my fellow Scots believe in me and the idea of Jury Team. If I have a year before a General Election, it's a year I'll spend spreading the word, talking to people quietly. The idea is a good one and it's never been more important.

Never again will people look at a ballot paper and think "Who the F*** are Jury Team?"

Thanks for your vote. It wasn't wasted. It wasn't attached to an albatross but an eagle. We're just learning to fly.

Alan Wallace
Jury Team