The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is reviewing the rules on councillors' declarations of interest – at present they only have to declare sponsorship from a trade union.
However if they can't find a union, affliated to the Labour Party, to allow them to be a member then they are not eligibile to be a councillor. This is surely a relevant concern that should be declared. Surely acting against his union's policy is something a Labour councillor would wish to avoid?
Mr Pickles says "people now wonder whether or not councillors are working for their residents or for their trade union bosses. And I shall review the matter as a matter of urgency."
The Labour Party Rule Book says:
"Clause 1: General rules for selections for public office
The following rules shall be observed in the selections of all prospective elected representatives:
B. Nominating criteria of members standing for public office
i. In addition to fulfilling any statutory requirements for the relevant public office, persons wishing to stand as a Labour candidate must have continuous membership of the party of at least 12 months. Where not otherwise prevented they shall also be a member of a trade union affiliated to the TUC or considered by the NEC as a bona fide trade union and contribute to the political fund of that union.
Any exceptions to these conditions must be approved by the NEC." (p.22)
"Clause III: Selection of local government candidates
"2. All nominees must fulfil the criteria to stand as a prospective local government candidate detailed in Clause I.1.B above" (p.23)
In case you still haven't got the message it also says:
Appendix 4: NEC Procedures for the selection of local government candidates
"D. Qualification of nominees: i. Each nominee must be an individual member of the party, in accordance with the conditions of membership which include, where applicable, membership of an appropriate trade union" (p.71)
Should not Labour council candidates be allowed to choose whether or not they wish to be union members? One for the Human Rights Act perhaps.