City workers and residents of the Farringdon Without ward will see a brand new party on the ballot papers when they head to the polls to vote in their new common councillors next Thursday.
Ten of the 22 candidates standing for election to the City of London Common Council have registered under the name ‘Temple and Farringdon Together’, in an attempt to win all 10 seats in the ward. It is a marked departure from tradition in City elections, where candidates historically register as Independents to keep the council free of party politics, though Labour has been putting candidates forward since 2005.
This year, eight Labour candidates will be vying for a seat in six wards, seeking to join Richard Crossan who stands unopposed in the Aldersgate ward.
Edward Lord, an incumbent hoping for re-election as part of Temple and Farringdon Together maintained they are “a local group”, as they were not taking a political party line, but added that declaring themselves gives voters more clarity on their approach to issues in the ward.
“When you’ve got 22 people on the ballot it is obviously going to be difficult to get people to vote for the 10 on your slate,” he said.
“We’re not taking a party left or right line, it was really just to make things easier for our electors that we formed a local group and declared ourselves.”
Ten other candidates in the ward are campaigning as a group named ‘Farringdon Focus’ but are registered as Independents on the ballot paper.
Mr Lord said slates of candidates in the larger wards like Castle Baynard and Bishopsgate had already expressed interest in registering as a formal organisation for the next round of elections in 2021.
“Mark my words, we’ll see a lot of different groups on the ballot sheets in four years time.” Peter Kenyon, who is election agent for the Labour Party candidates, applauded the move but said there should be more transparency when it comes to candidates’ political affiliations.
Currently, candidates do not have to declare political affiliations until after they have taken office, at which point they have 28 days to register pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests, including membership to political parties.
“Our preference is that everybody runs with a declared political affiliation,” he said. “Voters shouldn’t have to wait until member declarations of interest are published.”