Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Electioneering really has started!

You can tell that district council elections aren't that far off when political parties start putting out newsletters that only contain aspects of a full story in order to shape views with an eye-catching headline.

We are only in November and the elections aren't until next May but already the BNP are publishing selective information to denigrate the sitting councillors in their target wards.

From the outset of this blog it is only right that I nail my colours to the mast. I am a proud member of the Labour party and wholeheartedly support their principles and views. Nevertheless I will try to be objective.

The local BNP team have produced a newsletter for the Thringstone ward. In that newsletter an article is written and in the interests of fairness I will set out the text in full below:

' Do you know just how much your local Labour Party Councillors are costing, us the taxpayer each year? Do you even know who they are?

See the shocking table below, to see how British National Party councillors perform against the greed of the of the Labour party. BNP Councillors also attend more meetings.

Labour Party - Value for money? Or taking advantage? You decide.

Average amount of money claimed per Political Party this year

Labour           £8,041.48 per councillor
Conservative   £7,395.16 per councillor
BNP              £3,765.16 per councillor

Lib Dem and IND Cllr's also take more on average than the BNP.'

Now there is no doubt if you carry out the simple task of taking the total allowances for all members of a party and dividing this by the number of councillors they have then you will get an average Labour allowance greater than any other party. But this is a simple and highly emotive method of calculating worth which hides the true facts.

ALL Councillors receive a basic allowance of £3,765.16 (inclusive of £150 telephone rental) and this is the amount that BNP Councillors are rightfully entitled and which they receive.

At the same time Councillors are also entitled to 'Special Responsibility Allowances' for carrying out certain roles. Now for the most part the special responsibility allowances go to the party in control of the council and this is the situation with NWLDC.

Historically the Leader and members of the Cabinet receive the highest allowances and when you look at the figures for 2009/10 this is indeed the case. Councillor Richard Blunt, who is leader of the Council received special allowances of £14,687.82. Similarly Councillor Matthew Blain received an allowance of £9,180.26.

So  I hear you ask, if I have not lost you by now, why in the basic BNP calculation do the Tories only receive £7,395.16 per councillor? Once again the answer is simple. There are a number of Tory councillors, Councillor Richichi for instance, who only receive the basic allowance so when you divide the total allowances paid by the number of councillors you get to an average figure set out in the BNP leaflet.

Turning to Labour it is important to note that my party is the official opposition. As a result of this fact Labour Councillors are asked to take on the chairmanship of various committees and otherwise provide input to the decision-making process in order to provide democratic representation. For these duties once again special allowances are paid.

When you are looking at a simple average cost per councillor however it becomes apparent that all 5 Labour councillors have some kind a 'special responsability'. As a result dividing those total allowances by 5 means that the average per councillor is higher, in short Labour doesn't have backbenchers to dilute the allowances.

Now the Lib Dems, BNP and Independents do not have any form of special responsibility and as a result they are never going to have total allowances as high as either the controlling party or official opposition.

A quick word on attendance at meetings. The BNP Councillors have excellent attendance records and they are to be applauded for this. However, let's not beat about the bush our Labour Councillors have attendance records which stand up to scrutiny as well.

For example BNP Councillor Ian Meller has a 95% attendance record at meetings. Thringstone Labour Councillor Ray Woodward has a 98% attendance record. It's simple headline figures can always be used to support a story!

Now from a personal point of view I abhor everything the BNP stand for and I certainly hope that come next May there are no BNP councillors on our District Council, at the same time however I accept that in 2007 those same councillors were elected by residents of their respective wards and if you look in pure terms of attendance it could be argued they have done a good job.

Being a councillor is more however than just an attendance record and I would fervently argue that those wards lucky enough to have been represented by Labour councillors have had some of the most hard working and dedicated councillors that they could have wished to hope for.

And yes, in answer to the BNP leaflet, I would suggest that just as many know who their Labour councillor is as know their BNP elected member.

There is, of course, a time and place for electioneering but why can't we be honest and present the electorate with the full picture rather than give snippets and half facts?

The people of North West Leicestershire aren't stupid. If the BNP give whole truths and win then I would say congratulations but this kind of cherry picking isn't insulting to Labour, it's insulting to the voters.

1 comment:

  1. there are lies, damned lies and statistics, Leon

    The BNP have no concern for the whole 'truth'.

    One could match them in rhetoric and say the reason their allowances appear low is because they take no responsibility.....