Conservatives in Bromley and Chislehurst have complained about the Liberal Democrat campaign’s references to Bob Neill’s “three jobs”.
This has been commented on by a number of readers and posters who pointed out that Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Graham Tope also has three ‘jobs’ – AM, Councillor and Peer.
We asked Lord Tope for his response to the suggestions that this put his own position at odds with party policy:
“I think a lot depends on the nature of the “jobs”. Mine are inter- related (London Borough councillor where I live, London wide Assembly Member and Lords); Bob’s are completely unrelated (barrister, Assembly Member for Bromley & Bexley London Boroughs (he lives in Tower Hamlets – and Southend at weekends) and Member of a Strategic Health Authority in NE London – although no longer as of today!).
My work on the London Assembly, and particularly as one of the 12 Assembly Members on the Metropolitan Police Authority, is very relevant and helpful to my role as a councillor in Sutton, and my “on the ground” knowledge and experience as a Sutton councillor is very useful and relevant to my London roles.
There are, of course, many Assembly Members who are also current London Borough councillors, and more who have been both at some time during their Assembly membership. Presumably they have found the same synergy between the two roles.
It is not possible to resign from the House of Lords, but I did resign my front bench job (as Lib Dem Education spokesperson) immediately on election to the Assembly. It is actually quite useful to be able to speak, with current knowledge and experience, in the Lords on London, Police and local government matters, although time does not permit me to do this nearly as often as I would like.
And there is, of course, a huge difference between Membership of the Lords and the Commons. In the Lords I have no constituency (with all the work and local accountability that involves) and no salary! I do not have to defend a constituency with a tiny majority. I can attend or not as and when, and for as long as, I wish; we have fewer votes and far fewer three line whips in the Lords than the Commons.
I hope this explains adequately that, although there is a superficial similarity between Bob’s “jobs” and mine, the reality is hugely different in practice.“