A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Cause and effect

The Sunday Times is confusing cause and effect in its article (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6788780.ece) saying that "more than 50 prospective candidates chosen by the main parties are already working as lobbyists and public relations executives".

It isn't "that parties were recruiting lobbyists" as the article says, it's that there aren't many other careers that are compatible with the pressures of running for parliament.

In my case I had to resign as a local government officer when I was selected to fight un-winnable Aldershot in 2001. I made myself unemployed by becoming a PPC because of the Widdecombe rules restricting political activity by public servants and was lucky that my current employer, a public affairs company, stepped in.

Not many "non-political" employers would accept someone saying they needed a month's annual leave all in one block, couldn't predict when this would be, and would have to down tools at the minute the PM's car left for Buckingham Palace in order to leaflet returning commuters. Nor would many conventional employers tolerate months of early starts and 4.30pm finishes in order to get out to the constituency in time for canvassing or party meetings.

The publicity can scare "non-political" employers too - I know one PPC in a winnable seat who was laid off by a major corporation because they did not want their company name linked in the press to a political party.

So given the need for parliamentary candidates to feed their families and pay the mortgage, unless they are self-employed (e.g. barristers) or already working in quasi-political jobs (unions, think-tanks etc) yes a lot of them end up working in public affairs jobs between selection and election - it doesn't actually tell you that much about the composition of parliament.


Anonymous James T said...

Luke... I agree with you that there is a real problem for PPC's retaining a non-political job as well as undertaking a lengthy campaign required of them to carry out their duties to get elected to Parliament...

However... I totally disagree with your argument that Lobbying is the only career/ job which carries a level of pressure compatible with running for Parliament... Such an argument is a nonesense especially given the highly pressurised nature of any job in todays Britain... regardless of the level of the job...

Secondly... one of the most fundamental problems with British politics... highlighted by the "Cash for Peers" and "Cash for Questions Affair"... is that lobbyists are far to close too close to Government and wield far too much power and influence over Government policy...

It is the disproportionate and highly effective influence of Lobbyists on Government Policy that has become a substantial factor contributing to the dire state of the Labour Government/ Party and its alienation with the voters... and the electoral abyss it is now staring into...

The Business Lobbyists have got away with far too much of what they want at great expense of the British electorate...

The link between Government/ Party Politics and Lobbyists must now be fundamentally broken... and a distinctive dividing line must be established...

That or the Labour Party and British politics will reach a even worse critical point...

6:03 pm, August 09, 2009

Blogger subrosa said...

There are not many jobs paying £64,000 a year into which someone doesn't even require formal qualifications.

Sorry but I've little sympathy really because if you'd joined the army, even with a first class honours degree, you would be paid £14,850 for your first year as a 2nd Lt. MPs should be graded in accordance with civil service gradings.

Most of my local councillors all work for the council because they tolerate the days off etc. Such a shame really because there are people of quality in this country who have much to offer but are not in the position of getting a month off work.

6:25 pm, August 09, 2009

Blogger David Boothroyd said...

Should be noted that the Sunday Times nicked the story from Public Affairs News.

10:11 pm, August 09, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Rosa is actually incorrect.

Local councillors are not allowed to work for the council on which they sit, and many posts above a particular level or in stated areas of interest for neighbouring councils would also be blocked.

Do we actually want to have democracy or not? If so, then employers should not be able to block elected representatives ability to do that work.

11:28 pm, August 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubbish - what happened to people working for a charity, the NHS, small businesses etc, who have real experience, as opposed to those who 'lobby' or as in your case, worked in the Labour Group office in Hackney

7:34 pm, August 12, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually some large charities have "election leave" written into staff conditions. It doesn't have to be paid but the right to be away for the period of time is there. Many MPs come from the voluntary sector because I suspect many vol orgs are more sympathetic and understanding about what politics actually is (as opposed to that scary thing that some private sector firms think it is).

3:27 pm, August 13, 2009


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