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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