Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Labour Party’s centralising tendency comes home to roost

Neil Woollcott has posted an article about a Labour Party proposal that its councillors contribute towards paying off part of its massive £23.4m debt. According to Woollcott, the media are “causing a big stir” about this and he expects Liberal Democrat bloggers to do the same.

Before we all jump onto our high horses about his, I think we should bear in mind that it is largely an internal Labour Party matter. If they want to ask their Councillors to contribute to a fund, it is up to them. If they want to oblige those holding the Labour whip to do so, that is a decision for them, and potential councillors and voters can judge them accordingly.

In my experience, those who run for office and especially those who hold public office tend already to be very generous with their time and their money - both to the local community and to their party.

What is sad about this proposal is that it is a typical example of cack-handed Labour Party centralisation that will probably cause more harm than good. For one thing, those who currently give generously may now limit themselves to donating only the prescribed amount. Perhaps more importantly, how those funds are used will be decided by Labour Party central office staff rather than by the individuals themselves.

This should be no surprise; Labour is a party that is committed to centralisation and does not trust individuals - even individual members, it seems - to dispose of resources as they see fit. It is, however, sad that local members’ generosity is to be replaced by a system that smacks of the very centralised tax-and-spend approach that has proved so ineffective in Government. Fortunately, this time it can only harm the Labour Party and not the country.

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