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12 July 2008

Why me for Labour’s treasurer

Labour's troubles with funding come back to one basic issue - the fact that only once in 16 years ha

By Mark McDonald

Labour’s whole approach to party funding has been a millstone around our neck in recent times and its up to the members to do something positive to change that. Each small mistake at the centre of the party organisation has the potential to wipe out the benefit of thousands of hours of work by activists on the doorsteps.

These mistakes cannot be allowed to recur. There has been only been an election once in the last 16 years for the post of treasurer of the Labour party. This is the source of the weakness of the role.

A democratic and fair contest between strong candidates confers a mandate on the winner. It is this lack of a mandate that has eroded the position to the point where the treasurer is all but disregarded by the party apparatus.

The Labour Party was built on small donations and subscriptions from members and trade union affiliates. These are ordinary people paying their union subs – and Labour members, whether working, retired, students or disabled – all contributing to the party in good times and in bad.

It is to these people that the treasurer should be accountable and they deserve a treasurer who will ask difficult questions on their behalf. I can grasp the complex laws that govern party funding and ask difficult questions to protect the reputation of the party.

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The party deserves a treasurer who will report to the NEC, rightly elected by members and affiliates, never to the media. I have been in the Labour movement my whole life and in the 1980s served as a NUPE shop steward, as a hospital worker in the darkest Tory years.

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Since then, I studied A-Levels at the Working Men’s College, a degree and then became a Barrister. I now work in human rights and criminal law.

There is a need for change so that we can operate a higher standard of governance and oversight in our financial arrangements, but more than that, there is a need for us – as a party – to win back the faith of the public.

I hope you will vote in this election and I hope you will vote for me. Please email me at markpaul.mcdonald@gmail.com if you would like to ask me a question or give me your views.