Councillors – do we get what we pay for?

Stephen Tall wrote an interesting post on Councillor’s pay. He informs us that Croydon councillors can look forward to £22,000 per year for his trouble, while their counterparts in Corby gets less than £3,000. I remember running for Bucks County Council a couple of years ago and being sent a helpful guide to the County Councillors’ typical week. This ran to a seven day week for an allowance of about £10,000. This possibly explains why so many of our councillors are retired! I could not possibly keep my family on £10,000 per year – so would have to continue with my day job – thus making the seven day week suggested impossible. Wycombe District Council, for which I’m currently running, would pay me about £4,300 if I were elected – but only want me to put in about 20 hours per week – which is do-able – but I’ll hardly be doing it for the money! In our area, a recent opinion poll showed a majority in favour of moving to a Unitary council – although the District Tories and County Tories disagree with each other on this! But it seems to me that moving to a Unitary might allow more realistic allowances for councillors. Only one party ever manages to fight all of the seats on our District council, and this is largely due to a lack of suitable candidates. A large percentage of councillors are retired (nothing wrong with that in itself – I am not being ‘ageist’), but there are many people who would make fine councillors who feel that they couldn’t effectively split their time between work and council duties. A more realist allowance might allow these people to negotiate shorter hours with their employers because the resultant pay cut would be offset by their councillor’s allowance.

The racist vote

How sad it is that the racist vote continues to rear it’s ugly head. Canvassing has become a pretty full time occupation lately, but for the most part I am enjoying it. But every now and then (and twice on Saturday):

ME: ‘Hello, I’m Steve Guy, one of your Liberal Democrat cand…’

VOTER: ‘…and you can f*** off, because your lot won’t send the f***ing immigrants back!’

ME: ‘Err, no – thank you’. Walks off slightly depressed and ticks ‘ANTI’ column on canvass card.

One of the most commented upon threads in this blog is this one criticising the BNP. Most of the comments are full of spelling mistakes and look like they should have been written in green crayon – but just how many of these nutters are there?

Of course, we don’t expect anything else from the BNP. Despite the attempts to disguise themselves as a bona fide party concerned with Britishness and patriotism, most of us here know the kind of nasty people at the heart of the organisation and their true agenda. But something else I saw recently worried me more. A voter handed me a UKIP leaflet, with a banner headline which screamed ‘500,000 Immigrants’. The leaflet then went on at great pains to point out that UKIP were ‘not a racist party’. But the headline is clearly designed to appeal to the green crayon wielding brigade.

My message to UKIP is simply this, to claim not to be a racist party whilst clearly courting the racist vote in such an obvious way is just rank hypocrisy.