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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Problem With Cash In My Bank Account Isn't That There's Too Much Of It

I'm entertained by comments posted on various blogs suggesting that the problem with UK political funding is high spending by political parties. Like me, they obviously haven't worked for one recently.

Misery of the Labour officialFull-time Labour (and I suspect Tory and certainly LibDem) officials up to and including the recently resigned General Secretary earn salaries that are derisory compared to the rest of the voluntary sector, let alone their counterparts in trade unions, the public sector and the private sector. Probably less than I claim in expenses as a Director of a huge multinational PR corporation. And certainly less than the £709,961 expenses claimed last year by Labour MPs Shahid Malik, Liam Byrne, Joan Ryan and Dan Norris between them.

Party officials are the people who do the job because of deep-seated principles or, in the case of the smarter ones like me, the realisation that it can be a conduit into something a great deal more lucrative later on such as autobiographies, becoming a political lobbyist or, even better, becoming an MP. That's certainly the path I followed, from election organiser for Dobbo to political assistant and thence to PR consultant and parliamentary candidate.

The trouble with these underpaid semi-pro wretches is that they act as a drag on the salaries of real professionals like me. When a Political Officer based in the Palace of Westminster is expected to manage on a salary of £29k-32k, people start to question the money I earn for advising arms dealers, government service outsourcers and property developers.

And then, of course, there's the effect that living in a cold, damp bedsitter without enough food to eat can have on your memory. It's hardly surprising we get into a mess about basic matters of law and compliance when the staff engaged in fundraising are working ridiculous hours for low wages and struggling to do what they perceive to be the right thing (protecting cabinet members), let alone exercising legal and financial responsibilities they are unlikely to be qualified to deal with. If these people were paid more money they could perform their jobs more effectively, raise more money for the Party and not be reduced to selling their stories to maverick bloggers and the tabloid media.

Labour fundraiser Gordon GekkoAnd I could negotiate a higher salary for myself by leveraging the improved deals paid to political advisors and party officials. My family poverty is a standing joke amongst my friends and family. Swedish comrades tell the story of being shown round my flat in Beatty Road and saying "this is a very nice apartment, almost as big as the one our children's nanny lives in, but where is your private suite?"

For New Labour to be able to fully function, we need enough staff to train, organise and politically educate the rank-and-file membership, and enough cash to proselytise, consult with and bribe motivate the wider electorate. But with debts of £23m, orders to hand back improper donations and rich people keeping their heads down as a result of Donorgate, we're stuffed.

A debate has now started about where all the additional money should come from. Perhaps we'll start chains of Labour Party off-licenses and Labour Party betting shops. Maybe we'll sell off all the remaining Labour Party offices so the land can be used for luxury tower block developments. Or maybe we'll strike some deals with our rich friends in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Russia. I'm sure we'll come up with a suitable wheeze. But first of all we all need to kill the myth that there is too much money being spent on politics - i.e. on democracy - in the UK. And the myth that I have no right to speak on behalf of the little people of Chatham Ward, just because I earn 10 times as much as they do. I mean, what sort of an income gap is that? It should be more like 50 times in order to reflect my true value compared with the riff-raff I represent.

1 comment:

Evaldas Nowosielski said...

I don't think that's you in the bottom photo, is it? The hair's the wrong colour.