In Carmarthenshire County Council’s meeting of April 8th, the Council's Leader declared that the Independent Group had a 'free vote' on the issue of an increase in members' allowances. After the meeting Plaid Cllr Gwyn Hopkins said: “This was an unmistakable admission that normally there is no ‘free vote’, but that the so-called Independent members are – just like a disciplined political party - expected to ‘toe the party line’ and vote en-block in one particular manner, as the leadership dictates.
“During the past year there have been four ‘recorded’ votes at Council meetings and in each case (except for three abstentions in the second vote) all the Independent members present have voted together en-bloc. This fact proves conclusively that these members are anything but ‘Independent’ – given the dictionary definition of independence as ‘free from the influence or control of others’ (Collins English Dictionary 2007). The only time that they are allowed any freedom is when the leader tells them so. As such, the electorate should be wary of being misled by anyone describing himself/herself as ‘Independent’ and ‘Non-political’ for, on past evidence, it is all too often a bogus description.”