As one of the Party’s jobbing bureaucrats, people often ask me, “Why are you a Local Party Secretary?”, in much the same way as they might ask, “Why do you make casseroles out of roadkill?”. After all, one can make casseroles out of roadkill, but most of us would prefer to go to Sainsbury’s.
My answer is a simple one, because being the Secretary is where the power is. Your average Local Party Chair is worrying about all the things that need to be done, fighting the temptation to do it themselves (I know, I was that Local Party Chair), and attempting to hold the ring with competing factions (council group, MP and target seat PPC). Your Treasurer will be worrying about PPERA obligations, trying to work out where the money is coming from to pay the printing bills, and wondering whether he/she knows about all of the bank accounts.
Secretaries, on the other hand, control information. Information is power. If you have sufficient influence over the Treasurer, you have total control, and nothing much in the way of responsibility. After all, it was Machiavelli who wrote of the importance of having a good Secretary, and I like to think that he knew a bit about power and how to (ab)use it.
I believe that this information should be shared, so I’ll be publishing a series of pieces on good Secretarial practice over the coming days. Most of it will be common sense, especially to a hardened bureaucrat, but I hope that it will make life a bit easier for anyone taking on the role at their AGM in the coming months.