'Campaigning on the rates' controversy erupts in the Bay.
A big story in Saturdays Herald Express accuses local Lib Dems of funding their MP's election campaign out of a fixed levy of their council allowances; evidently outraging the new editor and causing a flurry of phonecalls and emails to yours truly from irate residents (one of whom claims to be a Lib Dem voter) all angry that we Conservatives may have been disadvantaged in the election as a result.
As it happens I don't think that the amounts involved would have had a significant effect on the election result but the principle at stake is very clear.
I don’t think many people have any idea the extent to which politics is already funded by the taxpayer. The costs of running Parliament have tripled since 1997 mainly as a result of a massive hike in the allowances MP's can claim for 'constituency support'.
Most MP’s intentionally or otherwise find a large chunk of their costs allowances finds its way to benefit their constituency organisation; for instance by renting offices or employing activists as researchers. Our own MP employs a grand total of five staff including his wife and two prominant Lib dem councillors. They are employed work exclusively on non-political constituency business while they are being paid from his allowances; but presumably can do what they like the rest of the time.
Mr Sanders suffered from the lowest turnout on record at the last election in spite of record expenses and spending on support voter turnout at an all time low suggests that customer satisfaction with MPs has not benefited from the largesse of the Government.
Now we learn that Lib Dem councillors here in the bay are being forced to donate a fixed % of their allowances (paid out by council tax payers) to their party organisation (an incentive for councillors and their party to increase their allowances if ever there was one).So although our MPs total costs easily exceed £1,000,000 each Parliament and now we learn that he needs council taxpayer’s money as well.
Aren't the already significant benefits of being the sitting Member of Parliament able to turn up to coffee mornings and dinners enough for the local Lib Dems to raise their campaigning cash though fundraising, as we do?