Financial support for the leader?

As we speak members are discussing motions to the “up-coming” Party Conference which is in Bristol in September. One potential motion before members will be for a stipend for the leader, or co-leaders, to help free up their time for campaigning, working with members and media.

I’m sure members don’t begrudge expenses but there has been a traditional reluctance to turn elected positions into paid positions, presumably to prevent the avaricious from a post that others might do from love. I vaguely remember people getting into a right old tizzy about it the last time it was suggested, although that was a few years ago so perhaps we’ve all moved on.

Before all this happened I had been gently considering moving a motion to create a paid post to give better support to the leader and deputy in their work. Although there has been a little of this already it’s not been put on a formal footing and some kind of professional support felt like the way to go, however, with Caroline’s decision to step down and this motion coming forward to pay the leader some kind of stipend we’re in a new situation.

It seems like a good idea to me. The expectations we have of our leader and national executive members are pretty high and we often hold them to unrealistic standards, yet we also expect them to put in full time work for free. Without an independent income or trust fund that’s not something most people could sustain for any length of time. If we want to get good work out of people, and allow them to dress and behave like normal human beings, we should make sure we aren’t excluding the less well off from running.

One disadvantage of discussing this in Bristol is that the new leader will be elected at that point so they will have applied for the job without knowing if there will be financial support or not, however as far as I can see that’s unavoidable right now.

Up to this point our leader has been on an MEP’s salary and then an MP’s one (which I believe is exactly the same). She’s had no need of the party passing over a few coppers to buy the baby some second hand shoes, but whoever comes next will almost certainly not be in the same position. In order the get the best out of them we will need to ensure there is some sort of stipend with the job at least available as an option.

The final wording of the motion is yet to be agreed and I’m not that interested in discussing the ins and outs of the detail anyway but I think the expectation that the leader will somehow be exempt from the kind of financial pressures everyone else is under is something we can leave in the past. While we’re unlikely to be paying a banker’s salary, with an extra large bonus if the new leader manages to collapse the entire green movement, something modest to keep them going seems appropriate to me.

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11 Comments

  1. mattsellwood

     /  15/05/2012

    I agree – I simply don’t think that we can ask someone to do the scale of work that being Leader requires and expect them to hold down a full time job at the same time. Indeed, that was part of the issue that Caroline faced. Given that they can’t feed themselves on air or live in a cave, paid support is pretty much the only way forward.

  2. Gus Hoyt

     /  15/05/2012

    Completely agree Jim.
    We in the green party do tend to ask too much of our strongest spokespersons.
    Just being a Cllr. I find I have no time for a full time job to help pay the bills. And yet every green and ignored group/individual expects Tess (our other Cllr) and I to take up every challenge.
    I can only imagine the workload Caroline has been under, and commend her eternally for doing so well under/(-8′ the circumstances.

    But now, moving on, personally I think a basic pay grade – national is only about 22k pa – but in job share would attract many other / and highlight just how differently our view of a ‘leader’ is. I think this is important.

    So many nice Labour cllrs came up to me and said how sorry they were that Caroline was resigning. They just don’t get it/ grass roots etc
    – yet tweet and boast about doorstepping…

    Fancy sharing the job Jim ;)

  3. Glad the post is going down well. Last time this was suggested I think there was a genuine hoo ha.

    Thanks for asking Gus I’ve consulted my psychiatrist and he advised me against it :)

  4. Charlie Kiss

     /  15/05/2012

    I have also been thinking about this issue now that the position (s) will be open to anyone who wishes to stand (fulfilling the required criteria of course) It is important that it is a viable option to those not already in a paid elected position. Because let’s face it the leader of the party has to focus on the party..as well as be an external representative to the media and public. To be the leader of the party, a full time position definitely needs financial support. so yes I agree..

  5. Gosh, I didn’t realise the leader didn’t any income/stipend. That’s a massive workload for anyone to take on, and also hold down a job. So yes, I agree with Jim. Not in the least because it opens up the field of who might stand for election. I bet many capable people are put off standing because the amount of unpaid work they would have to do, as well as having to have a full-time job just to get by, would be overwhelming.

  6. Totally agree.

  7. I think we need to support full time workers for the Green Party, otherwise it will remain in the hands of those who can afford it rather than the best people for the job regardless of how wealthy they are. We need to strike a balance between volunteers and paid Green Party workers and improve the relationships between various bodies of the party.

  8. Agree Katie. It may well be a different point but the relationship between different parts of the party needs to be a lot better – a happy party will find it far easier to grow and make change (not that most party members think the party is unhappy)

  9. Apologies to Julieanne, your comment was caught in the spam filter and I only just noticed. Your comment is now approved :)

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  11. Just what exactly genuinely encouraged you to post
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