Thursday, March 21, 2013

The New England independents

Back in April 2012 I reported the possibility that Richard Torbay might run for New England as a National Party candidate. Then Richard said in part:

Asked how strongly he was considering a move to federal politics, Mr Torbay said: “Well, I have made no secret of my disappointment about the trashing of the independent brand.

“There’s no doubt it’s been damaged by a hung Parliament, and that’s been very disappointing from my perspective.

“We’ve seen that reflected in a number of State polls, where Victoria now doesn’t have any more independents in their Parliament; there were three lost at the last NSW election; and at the recent Queensland election we saw three independents go.

“So, there’s no doubt there’s been massive brand damage, and that’s what I think has caused these approaches to occur.”

Richard was endorsed as National Party candidate for New England, but was then forced to withdraw, something I reported on in Thank you Richard Torbay.  Richard's decision to run, the reasons he gave, marked the end of the rise of the New England independents movement. As Richard noted, the rise of the independent had come to an end. But it was only in New England that there was anything approaching an independent political movement. 

Given events that had occurred, I thought that I might tell a little of the story of the New England independents. This had begun  with a post on my history blog, Introducing the story of the New England Independents.

My story on Richard's resignation attracted a few tart local comments. In this series, I simply want to place the independents in an historical context.


Rod said...

I'm a little worried about the effect of the Richard Torbay ICAC investigations on the "independents" movement (which, when I lived in the Northern Tablelands thought was probably a highlands of New England movement - rather than just being a few independents in NSW and Federal politics).

I also hope that the support Windsor gave the unpopular Prime Minister also does not have a similar effect. Though I think the New England electorate(s) are smarter than the rest of the country and know that Windsor is far more than someone who is keeping the Prime Minister in power. Having said that, the potential but much maligned Nationals candidate Joyce still has the fiercely New England independent spirit.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Rod. I think that Richard himself captured the impact on the independents of all this when he said that "brand" had become tainted by Federal events. Then came his own demise. I think that I agree with you re Barnaby. But will he keep the dream alive or become just part of the sameness?