Broadland man's mission for political change
Simon Rous is on a mission to transform the political landscape and in December he stood in the General Election as a candidate for a new political party he founded, based on the values of integrity, fairness and kindness. Jenny Seal reports.
A Christian from Spixworth, Simon (63) is asking people to join him as he scales up a transformative movement. In December’s General Election his name was on the ballot paper for his home constituency of Broadland. He was standing as a candidate for The Universal Good Party, a political party founded by himself and his friend Philip Durban.
The belief that politics can be better is the basis for the new political party which aims to bring a societal sea-change re-engendering community and kindness.
During the campaign, he participated in two hustings and canvassed on the streets and at farmers’ markets. Although he lost his deposit in a contest won decisively by Conservative Jerome Mayhew, Simon, who attends St Thomas Norwich, did persuade 363 constituents to vote for him.
Acknowledging mixed feelings in the results, he said, “When I spoke with people in the street I felt what I was offering was very well received. But then actually translating people being in agreement to actually investing their vote is a whole other ball game. I was strangely encouraged to get my 363 votes but at the same time disappointed because I believe there is such a dissatisfaction with the political system that actually if now is not a time for some significant change then when is?”
The manifesto of The Universal Good Party is ambitious and wide-ranging, starting with the environment and a range of sustainable policies enabling us to “become great ancestors”. It talks about Government being “light” and cultivating “the spirit of serving”. Christian principles influence the manifesto, but the party is explicitly open to all.
Simon, an accountant with previous church leadership experience, has been dissatisfied with the political landscape for many years. He would often spoil his ballot paper because he couldn't commit with any conscience to the main parties. The desire to form a new party bubbled for a while, but in the 2015 and 2017 elections caring for his elderly father was his priority.
In 2019, with an election brewing, Simon decided he would test the water, by seeing whether he could “get his ducks in a row” in time to take part. He wrote a constitution, found a Nominating Officer, registered The Universal Good Party with the Electoral Commission and wrote the party’s manifesto. By the time the election was called, he was ready to stand.
Reflecting on the process, Simon said: "It was a privilege to stand. The fact that in this country we can say I believe this, and then ask others to join us is amazing.”
One of The Universal Good Party’s central policies is the re-introduction of National Service, compulsory for those aged under 26 but open to all. Based not on military service but community service. Simon describes it as: “A National Service that re-engenders the idea of serving; that is a proper training bed for youth that fills some of the gaps in our education system and equips young people for life.” He continues, “Young people will come out of it with a desire for community and family that ultimately will infuse the whole of society.”
Another standout policy is to scrap all existing taxes and replace it with one transactional tax applied throughout the supply chain. As an accountant, he believes the current system is too complicated and open to misuse by those able to pay. "I’m looking for a system that is fair, so if you are a very wealthy person or company that spends a lot then it should not be possible to hide your income. It is not uncomplicated,” he admits, “but in my mind, it must be easier than a full page of different taxes that can be avoided.”
A final emphasis is to try to re-orientate people away from thinking about their “rights” but instead focus on their “responsibilities, at an individual, family, communal, corporate and national level.
“If we ensure that our responsibilities are fulfilled then everyone's 'rights' will be secured as a consequence. The final outcome of either approach should be broadly similar, but by placing the emphasis on others rather than on ourselves a positive shift in our social relationships will occur,” said Simon.
Quietly spoken, Simon is both humble and self-confident. He said: “I’m convinced that we could have a much better candidate. We could have a much better party leader than me! But if I can get the ball rolling and things develop and change, I'd be happy to say ‘go for it!’.
“Obviously, I’d love to be Prime Minister! But if I’m just a link or a conscience-pricker then perhaps I should be satisfied.”
As he seeks to discern the way forward for The Universal Good Party, he is encouraging others to come alongside him.
“I want to consult with interested people on where to go from here, in a sense to find out whether this is something from God's heart. If what I've started isn't viable then it's not serving any good by carrying on. But if God is in it then never mind the practicalities, get on with it.”
To read more about The Universal Good Party and its policies visit its website at: www.theuniversalgoodparty.com
To register an interest in joining Simon you can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org