Public Affairs: Soap Box - Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich and Clacton

What will be the most important single issue at the coming general election? The economy? The NHS or education? Immigration, perhaps? All will be important.

Yet in many constituencies, it could boil down to character - the individual qualities of those on the ballot paper.

In an age of anti-politics, folk distrust their elected representatives. Yet this puts an onus onto integrity. Our iPod society expects something beyond mass, generic branding. There is a real appetite for that which is distinctive, local, particular - and above all, authentic.

Voters want to be represented by someone who does not merely toe the Westminster line. They want someone to go to Westminster and redraw the lines.

Across the Atlantic last week, Senator Scott Brown scored a stunning victory in Massachusetts. His was less a victory for the Republicans (he rarely used the brand) but for an outspoken, independent individual against the political insider.

'I'm Scott Brown and I drive a truck,' he declared. Curious to our ear, but as a shorthand advertisement for an anti-politics politician in New England, it was brilliant. Many British MPs have preferred to define themselves in terms of their standing within Westminster - minister for this, committee for that. Not for much longer, I suspect.

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