Mar 042015
 

Opponents of the Labour Party, no matter what they think of the party generally, are always impressed by its discipline; by how a council group made up of individualists, the intellectually challenged, revolutionaries, Blairites and disgruntled back-benchers, can still be made to vote as instructed and hang together in order to face down any challenge. But how is it achieved? Well, a clue may be coming out of Swansea, and if this theory suggested to me is correct then my guess is that the method employed is unlikely to be restricted to that city.

Now I don’t want Uplands Labour councillor John ‘Boy’ Bayliss to think I’m picking on him, but I must start with him for he might, unwittingly, provide the key to unlocking this great mystery of Labour Party solidarity. The place to start is the extract here taken from Bayliss’s Declaration of Interests on the council website.

Bayliss declarations

This tells us that John Boy received an undisclosed amount of money from the Swansea Labour Group for a reason or purpose that is also undisclosed. And note that it came from the ‘Swansea Labour Group’, not the council, so it must be supplementary to any official payment for his work as a councillor. What are we to make of this? Was it a birthday present? If so, why did other Labour councillors not receive their ‘presents’? I’m told there is another explanation.

It has long been rumoured that Labour councillors in Swansea are required to pay ten per cent of their allowances to the party. Some of this, it is suggested, is used for elections and to otherwise promote the party in the city; a portion is sent to ‘Welsh’ Labour HQ; while the remainder is distributed among those Labour councillors lower down the food chain who do not receive hefty allowances for chairing committees and being in the cabinet. With a percentage also going to pay the dues of students from local universities who’ve been given free party membership.

Now quite obviously, a disgruntled Labour backbencher can have his or her disaffection ameliorated with a sweetener of a few grand every year. And a red-hot ‘revolutionary’ could also be persuaded to toe the party line. Which could help explain Labour Party ‘solidarity’. As I say, it’s only a rumour, but if true, it would give Swansea Labour group a secret pot of maybe £70,000 to play with every year. A great deal of ‘solidarity’ can be bought with that kind of money when it’s used to top up flat-rate councillor pay, especially if the recipient has no other obvious source of income.

So if the suggestion being made is correct, then the first issue is that the Labour Party is virtually extorting money from leading councillors (because you mustn’t believe that all Labour councillors give up their 10% willingly). Then we have the issue of recipients of this secret levy – recipients other than Labour donations‘Honest John’ Bayliss – not declaring this income in their Declaration of Interests. And finally, we have the consideration of income tax. For if the loyalty of Labour back-benchers is being bought with what are effectively back-handers, then we can be fairly certain that these secret payments are not being declared to the tax authorities.

A final consideration is that if what I’m hearing about Swansea Labour Party is true, and if this is how the Labour Party operates elsewhere in Wales – a reasonable assumption – then Labour in Wales must have well over a million pounds to play with every year. A million pounds that perhaps no one outside the party knows about, and that no one inside the party is willing to talk about. Essentially undeclared income and tax-dodging of the kind that so agitates the bruvvers when done by others.

I feel we need clarification on this matter. First, we need a statement from the Swansea Labour Party on whether or not it demands that its leading councillors ‘donate’ ten per cent of their allowances to help sustain (and retain the loyalty of) less fortunate brethren, and to also top up the party coffers. Then, we need a statement from ‘Welsh’ Labour, telling us if this is common practice within the party. Finally, it would be interesting to hear the views of the tax authorities; so maybe HMRC can give an opinion on whether income derived in the manner described is a) legal and b) if so, whether it should be declared for tax purposes.

  13 Responses to “Swansea Labour Party 11: What Price ‘Loyalty’?”

  1.  

    The “tithing” rumour is correct. The ten per cent surcharge applies to Labour councillors in other authorities besides Swansea. It is rigorously enforced as I understand it. (I must confess that it’s something we Liberal Democrats tried on some years back, but abandoned as unenforceable in a party lacking the Stalinist resolve of Labour.)

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      “Stalinist resolve”. I like that, I can see me using it if it’s OK with you?

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        I have often said that Labour has long abandoned any coherent philosophy but has not given up on its Stalinist management style. (I remember being told off by Lembit Öpik for voicing this at a Welsh LibDem conference long ago.) So the thought is out there and I cannot object to anyone else using it.

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      Have now been told by former councillor that the figure for Bridgend Labour is 8 or 10 per cent for unspecified purposes, but collected from all Labour councillors.

  2.  

    its they money but if they are being paid i hope they paid they tax

  3.  

    When the Swansea Administration Coalition of Lib Dems and Independents ran Swansea, their Councillors took a 20% cut in Allowances to pay for more Street Cleaning. Can you imagine this Swansea Labour Group doing the same? I suppose what they may be doing, as suggested, is legal, but the big question is – are they declaring it to Inland Revenue, if it is going on, and why is only one Councillor admitting to receiving payments from their Group by the requirements of the Council’s Code of Conduct? It could all be silly nonsense gossip – but this Blog has now had indications from the three counties of Swansea and Neath and Bridgend. So what is going on? Maybe a phone call to Inland Revenue could clear this up, as Tax Dodgers are not that popular these days especially during election fever time.

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      I might do that. Though a contribution from the Labour Party would be welcome. Labour’s attitude seems to be, ‘Stay schtum and keep your head down’.

  4.  

    It certainly goes on in NPT, with over 50 Labour councillors plus the special responsibility allowances, their annual fund must be around £75k a year, adding up all the Labour councillors in Wales, it must be a hell of a fund!
    If I recall correctly the fund was set up to help Labour councillors attend conferences, as us evil opposition councillors had found out about them and removed thier jolly from the budgets.
    My understanding is that some of the funds is spent on electioneering, but if that is the case, under election law, all donations and payments have to be declared.
    Thinking about Port Tennant, the LibDems and Indys on Swansea did take a 20% cut and put the money into public services, if Labour are doing the same, with their money going into the fund, the that’s worh about £150k a year.
    Well done Jac, you may have touched a raw nerve.

  5.  

    Intriguing once again, a few thoughts

    The practice is probably legal as were the MP’s expenses rules and claims, but morally and ethically how does it sit with voters for Labour to be filling it’s coffers when those same Councillors are making huge cuts to local services often in some of the poorest parts of the Wales. A call or email to HMRC might help clarify the situation at the very least

    Talk of Labour’s money problems in Wales has been rife but without hard proof, this is clear proof of Labour reliance on tax payers money to run the party from councillors allowances and probably AM’s and MP’s ‘donations’ as well, with party membership on the slide what other income do they have, do they still get the hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Trade Union’s every year?

    The ‘council tithe’ as I shall call it is free cash few inside or outside the Labour party knew about, with all the talk of local government reorganisation it’s no wonder Labour’s dragging it’s heals, less Councils means less cash for them, it’s yet another reason reforms need to go ahead to weaken Labour’s iron grip.

    Keep up the good work, if we had a real press, not cut and paste churnalists they might have exposed this little Labour scam long ago.

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      I’m not sure we have enough beyond a strong suspicion with which to approach HMRC. That said, it might be significant that no Labour voice has appeared to dismiss that suspicion.

  6.  

    we need to have actual amounts of money declared – also – Phil Bale Labour leader of Cardiff council in his declaration of interests only has 2 questions in Section 1 Qa and b What happended to Qs c,d,e,f,g, and h???i https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/Your-Council/Councillors-and-meetings/Your-Councillors/A-Z/Documents/Declarations/Declarations%20of%20Interest%20-%20Cllr%20Bale.pdf

    See Cllr Bradbury, also on cabinet, declaration for missing questions https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/Your-Council/Councillors-and-meetings/Your-Councillors/A-Z/Documents/Declarations/Declarations%20of%20Interest%20-%20Cllr%20Bradbury.pdf

    Is there a requirement to answer all questions? Why are there Qs missing?

  7.  

    In fact page 2 of Phil Bale declaration of interests is missing – the Qs on his financial interests

Ok, you’ve read what I think, now what do you have to say?