Date published: March 14, 2022
Middleton Independents Party co-founders (lr) Peter Shore, Simon Footitt and Bernard Wynne
A nascent political party has been officially registered by the Electoral Commission ahead of this year’s local elections.
The Middleton Independents Party (MIP) – which believes the town has played Rochdale’s “poor cousin” for too long – plans to field 15 candidates in five wards in May.
Rochdale Council is holding a general election this year – rather than the usual third of seats up for grabs – which means the chances of a major political upset are much higher.
The ‘MIP’ was unsure whether it would be registered in time to contest the election under its own name – or whether to stand as individual independents – after narrowly missing the filing deadline nominations.
However, the Electoral Commission has now confirmed that the hyperlocal group was registered on March 9, making it a “bona fide” political party.
Co-founder Bernard Wynne said it was “brilliant” news for the city’s new political movement.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said.
“It means we can show up under the official party banner rather than as individuals on the ballot – so it will be more recognizable.”
The party would have fought the election as separate independents – albeit affiliated – had registration not been completed in time.
Bernard thinks he will now have “more credibility” in the eyes of the public.
“We will be seen as a credible opposition rather than just individuals who want to express their opinion,” he said.
“We’re now a local party with local values and that’s the fact people will be able to see that on the ballot.”
The group campaigned as the Middleton Independents Party – and Bernard hopes voters’ familiarity with the name and logo will be an advantage on Election Day.
“Some may have made the connection, some may not – but now they will see the logo on the ballot and hopefully tick the box,” he said. “It will help us in case other independents come forward.”
“As far as we are concerned, this is really good news, because there was no guarantee that they [the Electoral Commission] it would be done in time.
The party – founded by Bernard, along with Peter Shore and Simon Footitt, has already registered 12 candidates to fight the election.
And Bernard is confident they’ll have their fill of 15 by the nominations deadline of April 5.
“I believe we will,” he said.
“The surge of interest now and people reaching out to us saying ‘we believe what you’re doing – Middleton needs change.
“We are excited for the future. We know that if we go in, it’s not a magic wand to change things.
“We’re not stupid, we know you can’t change things overnight, but at least it gives us a platform and the people of Middleton a platform.”
Rochdale Council rejected claims that Middleton had been left behind, saying that in recent years “significant investment” had been made in the town and more were planned for the future.
Local elections in the UK will be held on Thursday 5 May this year.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Journalist