Author Topic: The Editor Strikes Back!  (Read 935 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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The Editor Strikes Back!
« on: December 23, 2010, 04:28:46 pm »
       It's War!


Looks to me like Dave King, editor of the Swindon Advertiser, has finally tired of taking instruction from the Bluhligans and is once again reporting and passing editorial comment on subjects the Leader of the Council, Councillor Roderick Bluh, would prefer he, and we, never discussed, and not always for the reasons you might think.

I've always thought Rod Bluh is unduly sensitive, almost furtive in fact, when questioned about Douglas Campbell, (Bluhs political assistant & staff officer to the cabinet), which led me to think that: as politically useful and well connected as Mr Campbell undoubtedly is, (having previously been employed by the Conservative group at the Greater London Assembly), there was something in Campbells past which would damage Roderick Bluh politically if discussed openly.  I once submitted a Freedom of Information request to SBC regarding the Conservative groups political assistant/staff officer to the cabinet and the smell of brown adrenaline coming from the leaders office was described by another officer as: 'Considerable'.

Now, and this is where this thread enters territory which might be uncomfortable for some, before we discuss whether the taxpayers of Swindon should be paying for political 'assistants' or the political parties should be paying them from their own funds, I wonder whether anyone could confirm whether the Douglas Campbell employed by Cllr Bluh as political assistant to the Conservative Group and staff officer to the cabinet is the same Douglas Campbell mentioned in this BBC News article?  If it is the same person I'm not alleging he's done anything wrong.


Emma Boon from the Tax Payer Alliance states that political assistants give policy advice.  I'd go a step further than that and question whether, in some cases, we've already seen some evidence that Cllr Bluhs assistant is also a 'doer' as well as a 'suggester'.  In any event, with current polices putting public employees out of work and cutting services to taxpayers, lets have a good look at everyone involved in making policies which affect all of us.

Especially as we're paying them to do it for/to us.......



Offline thinktank

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Re: The Editor Strikes Back!
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2010, 08:35:10 pm »
Quote
Emma Boon from the Tax Payer Alliance states that political assistants give policy advice.

NB. Not sure what happens in Swindon about policy advice and Political Assistants as a search of the SBC website only brings up one reference to/mention of Political assistants (Why is that? Am I doing something wrong with the search facility?)

The role of Political Assistants  comes under section 9 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. There is no statutory requirement to appoint Political Assistants. Members may choose to do so, either on a full or part-time basis. A local authority may appoint up to three assistants for political groups subject to stringent conditions and safeguards. The general role of Political Assistants is to undertake research and provide administrative support for political groups. Some local authorities employ Political Assistants to work directly with political groups in the development of policy priorities. Any such posts are employed by and funded by the Council.

The appointment of Political Assistants is covered by the Local Government and Housing
Act, the Local Authorities (Standing Order) (England) Regulations 2001 and the Local
Government (Assistants for Political Groups) (Remuneration) (England) Order 2006.

Quote
Here is a example/model that one/some council's may consider using to appoint Political Assistants. Please check and confirm all information with any particular local authority before relying on its authenticity. This is for illustrative purposes only.


The appointment of each assistant is down to the political group that each post (political
assistant) is to represent. The selectors can take account of the candidate's political activities
during the selection process, although the posts are 'politically restricted'.

The criteria laid down for the posts are that
only one post can be appointed to a political group
the three largest groups in each authority qualify for a post (if the membership of the
group consists of at least 10% of the membership of the authority)
although it is for the authority to determine the salary payable, the remuneration of
the assistants must not exceed £37,206 being the maximum figure specified by The
Local Government (Assistants for Political Groups) (Remuneration) (England) Order
2006. This is equivalent to spinal column point 44 on the NJC pay scales.
Their terms and conditions must not be less favourable than those of other political
assistants in the authority.
the contract of employment must terminate at or before the annual council meeting
following the first elections after the person was appointed (or the first annual
council meeting after the person has been in post for three years if the council is
elected by thirds)
the local authority cannot delegate any functions to an assistant, and no other
authority officer can be required to work under the direction of an assistant (other
than in respect of secretarial or clerical services)

Unlike other politically restricted posts, political assistants are not restricted from speaking to the public at large or publishing any written or artistic work that could give the impression that they are advocating support for a political party. However, they may not speak in public so as to create the impression that they are speaking as an authorised representative of a political party. They must also not publish or be involved in the publication of a written or artistic work, which gives the impression that the publication is authorised by a political party. Political Assistants undertake such tasks as constituent case work, media relations, research and a degree of administrative work to support the demanding and full-time roles of their Councillors.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: The Editor Strikes Back!
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2010, 09:23:57 pm »
Interesting:

Quote
The role of Political Assistants  comes under section 9 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. There is no statutory requirement to appoint Political Assistants. Members may choose to do so, either on a full or part-time basis. A local authority may appoint up to three assistants for political groups subject to stringent conditions and safeguards.

Quote
.....the local authority cannot delegate any functions to an assistant, and no other authority officer can be required to work under the direction of an assistant (other than in respect of secretarial or clerical services)

.......Political Assistants undertake such tasks as constituent case work, media relations, research and a degree of administrative work to support the demanding and full-time roles of their Councillors.



Contained in an answer to a Freedom Of Information Request I submitted to SBC was the following sentence:

Quote from: Sharon Druett
"I can also confirm during the time period requested Mr Campbell deputised for Cllr Fionuala Foley at a conference on Reducing Domestic Violence 5.10.09"

Can 'deputising at a conference', (for Fionualala Foley who was Deputy Leader of the council at that point?), be accurately described as 'constituent case work, media relations, research or administrative work'.....

.....or would 'deputising for the Deputy Leader' be better described as performing a 'delegated function', albeit temporarily, for the leadership of Swindon Borough Council? 


Naturally Mr Campbell claimed expenses.



Discuss

Offline Ringer

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Interesting:
Discuss

Conservative home has a COPN Conservative Chairman Of Political Assistants Network of the 70 or so assiatants says
Quote
We are a different breed entirely and should not be tarred with the same brush.
Yes it is interesting to discuss this subject here is a conservative view of how valuable the Political Assistant is and
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There are certainly those who don't like the role of Political Assistants. In my experience this is either down to an individual's simple lack of knowledge about our role, or their inherent distrust of council officers

Well he would say that wouldn't he!

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/localgovernment/2008/12/we-are-not-cour.html

To qualify for inclusion there is only one rule - something described must have been said to have happened. `If the facts don`t fit the legend, print

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: The Editor Strikes Back!
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2010, 10:18:03 pm »



Quote
There are certainly those who don't like the role of Political Assistants. In my experience this is either down to an individual's simple lack of knowledge about our role, or their inherent distrust of council officers

I don't think I have any particular dislike of the position or role of political assistants, but I do question whether they should be paid from the public purse.

Re: Douglas Campbell specifically, I'm given to understand that he has worked for the Conservative party for a very long time but the public, (although they are required to pay his wages), know very little about him, what he's done in his political past or what he does now.

Re: Matt Bradley - Political assistant to the labour group leader Derique Montaut, little is publicly known about him either.

I think the Advertiser is right to question whether we should be paying £80,000 per annum for political assistants.  Shouldn't the political parties be paying for their own assistants from their own party funds if they are as 'invaluable' as one senior member of Swindons political elite claims?

 

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