Saturday, May 12, 2007

The stresses and strains of early selections take their toll...

My Colleague Mark Bigley, the PPC for Southport, has stood down this week, he says for personal and family reasons.

Mark was, along with myself and about 22 others, a member of the small group of parliamentary candidates 'fast-tracked' immediately after the 2005 election in a programme designed to maintain the momentum built up in our seats.

He is the second 'fast track' PPC to resign recently; my good friend Paul Offer packed it in at the end of last year after complaining about dark deeds by some members of his association; but also I suspect because he had concerns about the diverting impact of being a PPC on his career.

The fact is being a candidate and nursing a seat is a huge commitment not just for oneself but also for the family. It is a massive financial commitment, I estimate that the cost to me personally of fighting the 2005 election measured in loss of earnings leading up to the election and then restoring my momentum afterwards, relocation, donations and supporting costs to be well over £150,000. And it is a constant demand on ones time and energy, David Camerons recent two visits to the bay involved me taking three days off work, the election a fourth, all in one month. How lucky I am to have a forgiving boss!

And contrary to popular public imagination we don't get paid a brass razoo for doing the job of PPC.

So I am not surprised that for some the burden is too great, especially as the election looks more and more likely to be 2010 at the earliest.

My best wishes to Mark and his family, he has done a great job there and the party owes him a debt of gratitude.


Anonymous said...

dont u think u have now got a story in the local press about moaning candidate had to take a day off work for election day.

grow up will you

we will be in opposition forever with guys like you

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Marcus

The sacrifice some of you guys have made is huge - if you were initially selected in, say, 2003 you're gonna be a PPC for 7 years by the time 2010 rolls round. And there's still no guarantee of victory.

The current system really does only encourage the independently wealthy to stand for marginals. Those of lesser means are really limited to no hope seats (where the time commitment is much less) or safe seats, which arent in abundant supply!

Marcus Wood said...

Anonymous said "dont u think u have now got a story in the local press about moaning candidate had to take a day off work for election day"

No. If that was reported I would object - that is not what I said.

I am not moaning, it was a fantastic day and I was proud and thrilled to be involved, as I always am.

I take a lot of time off for my politics and I am lucky enough to be able to do so.

The fact is that many are not so fortunate and my post was about them, not me.

Alison said...

God there are some sour faced commentators around aren't there?

One of the reasons I read this blog is because i always feel it is genuine - not spin.

i'm one person who is glad you openly speak your mind - that is what politicians are supposed to do and most are too cowardly to do it.

You will win votes for openness it's what people are crying out for.

Barrie Wood said...

Understand your point Marcus, but you criticise(d) the Torbay councillors allowance of £7,500, but believe Nick Bye is 'worth' nearly 60,000 and yourself something similar if elected in 2009/10.

If I had been elected to Torbay Council [hereafter TC] without such a basic allowance I would have had to take a a notable drop in income as I would have needed to reduce my paid working hours in order to serve Ellacombe well. So is it right that those whose incomes are probably closer to the minimum wage rather than the national average should be effectively barred from public office if allowances were lower as you'd prefer ?

As anon said, it would be a poor day if only the independently wealthy contest seats - at any level I'd add. As it is TC is hardly representative of the bay is it ? I think your group is probably even less so than the LD's, despite the alleged new 'inclusive' party of Cameron.

Most councils are the preserve of the professional, retired and business classes only.

As it happens I did personal research on the basic allowances stretching across the UK and 34 different local authorities, with emphasis upon Lib Dem, Tory and Lib Dem/Tory 'partnership' councils. £7,500 is, at best, only in the median rage of councillor allowances and yet you used the increase for political ends, even though most of your councillors I believe took the increase personally.

Further £7,500 is hardly an inducement when the local paper sees fit to traduce local councillors reputations, there is only hard work and being available 24/7 with none of the 'glamour' or power of Westminster.

As a family man with a mortgage, being elected to TC would have been financially 'challenging' - my bank manager and wife are probably very happy that I was unsuccessful on May 3rd !

Before anyone 'jumps' on me, let me also say I did not support the way in which the increase in allowances were brought by the previous council, even tho' the outcome is probably necessary.

Moreover as a former councillor upcountry many years ago, and my involvement in politics in many places since, I have met councillors of all three main political colours the majority of which are motivated by the right ideals and strive to do their best for the communities they represent.

In short, lets try to give councillors greater respect. Most of them, across all parties, deserve such. They certainly ain't in it for the money !

Anonymous said...

Hopefull you will never get in - you are a good example of why not to vote Conservative. I say don't vote!

Marcus Wood said...

Barry, you may be surprised to learn that we agree on this.

I never opposed the councillors allowances - although I thought the way it was done was cack-handed; and the fact that so many were on special allowances was wrong.

Other Tories locally have criticised the Lib Dems for their arrogance in refusing to consider a staged or performance related introduction; but most of the hysterical reaction at the time came from within your own party.

My attack at the time was levelled at your MP who spent all that time and newsprint criticising his own councillors for accepting £7,500 while his own costs ands allowances, including salaries for his wife and mates Pentney and Darling has doubled to more than £250,000 every year.

I didn't notice him refusing to accept the Commons improved pay and perks -and especially enhanced final salary pension scheme!

As it happens I think the days when 'the great and the good' stood for council for the prestige alone have gone. These days even JP's get paid properly - why not councillors?

Barrie Wood said...

In the interests of fairness Marcus I'd like to clarify that the local LD party [as opposed to some of the then LD council group] did take the same view as you.

It is not the sum that is wrong, it is the way the allowances were introduced, especially in view of the political climate of the time.