Rory Knight Bruce has written an article for this week's Spectator proposing that candidates should be paid. Click HERE. I don't agree with some of the specifics in Rory's piece, but I do agree with the general thrust. And the points he makes apply to candidates of all parties, not just mine.
Robert Halfon, our candidate in Harlow, has already written on this subject HERE. It's something I talked to David Davis about last year and we floated along with several other Party reforms. Sadly this got eclipsed by the wish to hold the Party conference at weekends and in towns other than Blackpool or Bournemouth.
Until you've been a candidate, you have no idea what you are letting your bank balance in for. If you're well off, all well and good, but if you're not it's very very easy to let things run away with you. Naively I had reckoned it would cost me £10,000 to be the candidate in North Norfolk. In the end I reckon it was closer to £40-50,000. If the election had been delayed beyond May last year I couldn't have continued. And those candidates being selected for seats now face three years of commitment to their seat. Many will be able to afford it, but some won't. Those who can't afford it won't be applying but some will ignore the sioght doubt in the back of their minds and will apply anyway. But once the realisation dawns on them what they have done, they may face no option but to stand down, as Rory Knight Bruce did in North Devon in 2003.
Robert Halfon is right. The Party should be looking at providing bursaries so that no one is put off becoming a candidate because it's beyond their financial reach. Rory Knight Bruce is wrong to say that Party funds should be used to pay EACH candidate an annual allowance of £40,000. That's simply mad. But for those in need, there should be a fund - perhaps run separately from the Party - for them to access. Over to you, Bernard!