The media, has per normal, caused a big stir about the Labour Party asking it's councillors to contribute towards its national debt. Now I know this is the second time in a mater of days that I have agreed with the Labour Party, and please believe me that I am not in the least going to join them, but I do feel the media has gone over the top. More importantly I hope that Liberal Democrats up and down the country consider their response before openly criticising.
I think the difficulty with the whole story is the word 'allowance'. The old fashion idea of an attendance allowance appears to have changed to an annual allowance. I feel there should be a wider debate about allowances.
I feel the term allowance should change to salary, as some payments to councillors, especially in London or Unitary/ Metropolitan Boroughs, are quite high and to people on a low income equal what they are earning. And there are a lot of councillors, of all political persuasions, work hard for their constituents and are worth every penny of their allowances. On the other hand there are probably an equal amount of councillors, again of all political persuasion, who do not work hard for their allowance.
Changing the term and making the role of a councillor more professional, whether people choose to make it their main wage or to a part time job would mean that councillors would become much more accountable. To some extent local government is now recognising that local councillors' roles are changing, with a wider range of training sessions becoming available.
As with any job, a job description would be created so that the general public can hold councillors to account eg must hold a monthly surgery, distribute an annual report etc etc. By changing the term and by developing the role, councillors would be free to use their salary how they feel.
One may argue as I am public sector worker I should not donate any of my salary to a political party as I spending public money on pursuing a political cause.
In conclusion I think we should not attack the Labour Party on this, after all every political party seems to have a levy which councillors/ campaigners seem to pay whether it comes from councillors' allowances or their own money. The only difference with the Labour Party seems they expect all councillors to contribute to a national fund.