The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors will have to pay a ‘Ruth Tax’

- Kieran andrews poliTical edi­Tor

Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors will be forced to pay a monthly “Ruth Tax” to the cen­tral party’s cof­fers if they are elected, The Courier can re­veal.

The ba­sic an­nual pay for coun­cil­lors is £16,893. Leaked party rules, which can­di­dates are asked to sign, show that a min­i­mum £25 a month – nearly 2% of their in­come – must be handed over.

The rule-book jus­ti­fies the charge by say­ing that lo­cal party as­so­ci­a­tions “will pro­vide all cam­paign­ing sup­port nec­es­sary in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of both ‘peace time’ and elec­tion lit­er­a­ture.

A Tory source said: “This fee is ridicu­lous. It may not sound much, but if this was the sole in­come for a sin­gle par­ent, for ex­am­ple, there’s a lot bet­ter things that £25 could be spent on in­stead of cough­ing up a ‘Ruth Tax’.

“There’s no ques­tion that Ruth is pop­u­lar, but the party is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly cen­tralised, and dissent isn’t tol­er­ated. It’s start­ing to look like more of a cult than a party.”

Other po­ten­tial out­go­ings for suc­cess­ful can­di­dates in­clude the ex­pec­ta­tion that they “en­deav­our to at­tend the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive Con­fer­ence, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive Con­ven­tions, re­gional coun­cil and as­so­ci­a­tion meet­ings.”

It cost £35 for a del­e­gate’s pass for this year’s Tory con­fer­ence in Glas­gow.

In re­turn, they re­ceive “pro­fes­sional sup­port” with lit­er­a­ture, cam­paign­ing, and train­ing in both Vote­source, the pur­pose-built data­base which al­lows can­di­dates to tar­get in­di­vid­ual vot­ers, and so­cial me­dia.

The Con­ser­va­tives are not the only party to levy a charge, with Labour also re­quir­ing elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to pay 2% of their salary into cen­tral party funds. The Lib­eral Democrats have a vol­un­tary scheme.

A spokes­woman for the SNP, who do not ap­ply any charge, said: “This smacks of a party want­ing only peo­ple who can af­ford to rep­re­sent lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to stand for them.”

A Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive spokesman said: “There is no fee to be­come a coun­cil­lor, but all elected mem­bers are ex­pected to con­trib­ute a min­i­mum on­go­ing sub­scrip­tion af­ter elec­tion. This is also true of other political par­ties in Scot­land.”

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