Back in 2010 in Tameside, we had a leadership battle between Labour councillors with the then incumbent leader Roy Oldham and Councillor Kieran Quinn. At the time Roy was suffering from cancer and had little time to rally support and ended up losing the leadership in May last year. He died just two months later. I always had respect for Roy, but we also had our disagreements. One of them was over political assistants, a position highlighted by the TPA as a non-job.
I remember Councillor Kieran Quinn’s first speech as leader where he promised that he’d change several things which would please Tameside’s bloggers who, at the time were questioning the need for political assistants in the face of incoming budget cuts. To Councillor Quinn’s credit, he removed both Labour and Conservative political assistants which saved the council £67,438 per year.
However, a year later it seems political assistants are creeping in under a different name. Tameside Council has just appointed Mike Kane as a “Senior Executive Assistant” to work in the leaders office. Kane has moved from working for Stalybridge and Hyde MP, Jonathan Reynolds as his office manager, a job he inherited when former Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell stepped down from the seat. He also briefly served as a Labour councillor for the Northernden Ward at Manchester City Council.
Mike Kane is a political assistant all in name. Senior Executive Assistant may sound like a jumped up PA (which is probably what he is), but there is no denying Kane’s close links with the Tameside Labour Party and you have to ask if this was the reason he was brought in to work for the council. It stinks of jobs for the boys. It clearly shows the lack of judgement shown by Tameside’s Executive Council Leader, Kieran Quinn. On one hand he complains about the lack of money for frontline services, yet somehow he can find the money for more backroom staff for his own personal benefit and increased trade union funding.