Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Countryside Front?

It's natural enough that, when they need help, people turn first to their elected representatives. The meeting at Llanboidy last Friday duly included a top table with 10 people on it:- the Chair, two people from the post office, one from Postwatch, the local MP, the local ward councillor, three AM's - and the Countryside Alliance. I had been told in advance that candidates such as myself would not be given a platform, which was a perfectly fair and reasonable decision, given that the main purpose of the meeting was to hear local views. Sometimes, people can have more than enough of politicians!

However, surprise, surprise, the Tory candidate popped up on the platform after all – as the representative of the Countryside Alliance. Some of his comments were overtly party political, and he was clearly working closely with the official Conservative spokesperson at the meeting.

I'm sure that he would argue that there is a degree of crossover between the views of the Alliance and those of the Conservative party. But if people were to believe that the Alliance is little more than a Conservative front organisation locally, it would utterly discredit the organisation of which he is the highly paid Chief Executive (£100,000 according to the 2005 financial accounts). And I wonder how supporters of the organisation, who come from a range of backgrounds, would feel if they thought that their membership fees and donations were being used to pay someone to campaign for election as a Tory candidate?

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