CONHOME ARTICLE GENERATES DEBATE
13 December 2008 1 Comment
ABOVE: A SNIPPET OF RICHARD ASHTON’S CONSERVATIVE HOME ARTICLE
An article written by CPON Chairman, Richard Ashton, has generated plenty of debate, after it was published on Conservativehome.
The article was in response to recent criticism of political advisors, following the removal of ten Cabinet advisors by the new Conservative administration in Hammersmith & Fulham.
These advisors had been described as “courtiers and cronies” by one H&F Conservative councillor.
In his article, Richard stated that the advisors, “…were certainly not Political Assistants”, who are, “…a different breed entirely and should not be tarred with the same brush.”
Richard went onto describe the legislation that governs the work of Political Assistants, before putting the case for their, “…important role in supporting councillors to run efficient and effective councils.”
To illustrate his argument, Richard outlined the early policy discussions that were crucial in Gloucestershire’s Conservative-controlled County Council becoming the first council to provide direct funding for an additional 63 police officers in the county.
“While all credit has to go to Gloucestershire Conservatives for their bold vision,” he said, “It is of immense satisfaction to know that the earliest discussions of this idea took place within CPON’s ranks.”
Richard added that, amongst the ranks of CPON, there were, “…no ‘courtiers or cronies’ that I am aware of, nor are there any ‘jobs for the boys’.”
He touched upon CPON’s “proud independence” from the Conservative Party as proof of this, describing the network as a, “…forum where Political Assistants are free to discuss policy and ideas free from political interference, so that we may provide advice and guidance to our political masters that is balanced and thorough.”
Richard admitted that he had encountered individuals who disliked Political Assistants, but that this invariably came down to their, “…simple lack of knowledge about our role, or their inherent distrust of council officers.”
In conclusion, he said, “”There is this vague thought that we are using the role as a springboard to scale the Machiavellian heights. It’s utter nonsense.”
“The reality is that the vast majority of political assistants are honest, hard-working council employees; who work long hours and provide excellent research support for their local groups, for relatively low pay and no political reward.”