Saturday, 2 April 2016

Who we are - People First

People First were formed by the chronically disgruntled. Some of us who had been in political parties and were fed up with them, others had been on the hard end of unfair treatment in one way or another by public services or some level of government.

We looked for a way of breaking the system, to free our lives from unjust systems and the rule of big money and biased bureaucracy. We wanted a fairer and better society and for that Wales needs  improved and more accessible government at every level.

We found the Bell Principles, the rules of exemplary conduct formulated by the Independent MP Martin Bell. These rules, if adhered too, effectively produce better representation, much more contact with the public, and extreme openness and transparency. Rare features in current political life. The Bell Principles in full are available on this website.

It was a scandal which brought Martin Bell into politics He had been a famous BBC War Correspondent and became known as "the man in the white suit." In 1997 an MP had became embroiled in sleaze allegations in the parliamentary "cash for questions" scandal. The MP for Tatton, Neil Hamilton, one of the safest Conservative seats of the day, was accused of taking money to ask questions in Parliament, The money came from Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods and the story was run by the Guardian Newspaper.

A parliamentary investigation was underway and Neil stood in the election for the Tatton seat. Martin Bell stood as an independent against Mr Hamilton and the Labour and Liberal Candidates withdrew.
Martin Bell won and when the Enquiry reported Mr Hamilton was found guilty of receiving £25,000 from Mr Al Fayed and £10,000 from tobacco lobbyist Ian Greer. He also failed  to declare generous free trips. Al Fayed later claimed that the total paid to Hamilton was over 100,000  Neil has always maintained his innocence.

Subsequent expensive libel actions led Mr Hamilton eventually to bankruptcy, recovery and a new career as a TV personality. He has since joined UKIP  and is now a local candidate for Carmarthen East and top of the UKIP Mid and West List. He has an excellent chance of becoming a local regional Assembly Member.
Mr Hamilton

A few days ago I met him and his lovely wife Christine. I introduced myself and said we would meet again at the count. He asked who I was standing for and I said People First. He asked who we were.
I told him we were a local party embracing democratic reform, fighting corruption and following Martin Bell's principles. He replied that in his experience Martin Bell had not had principles.

I suppose we in People First have to thank Mr Hamilton. If Martin Bell had not been so disgusted by the cash for questions scandal and become an MP he would never have written his principles, doubtless derived not only from his personal experience of representing his voters but also by his appreciation of  the abuse of power which brought him into politics. Martin Bell nowadays works as an ambassador for UNICEF. We are very grateful for the strict guidelines and hope they'll catch on with all the other politicians eventually