The North West Green Party broke the story about free travel passes for delegates travelling to the Tory conference, that ultimately come from a body that receives public funding (read it here first). Thanks to the Salford Star, we find out that this perk could be worth up to £130,000.
It turns out that both Tory and Labour conferences “qualify” for these free travel passes. The point I made at the time is that if delegates to conferences get free travel, why not the homeless, those looking for work or low income groups? The answer is that more is given to the rich and more is being taken from the poor.
In the words of Richard Soper, Chair of Greater Manchester Travelcards Ltd:
“System One has supported the annual political conferences of both Labour and the Conservatives when they have been held in the city for several years. We see it as an opportunity to get people who may not normally use public transport at home to try it whilst they are in our city. It also helps to reduce car traffic during the busy conference period, with positive effects for the city centre environment, and normal local traffic.”
Now as you might expect, we Greens are in favour of public transport, but we are not in favour of a public body paying for political delegates to travel free of charge. So whether it is a £130k worth of perks for Labour, or a £130k worth of perks for the Tories, it is wrong and it needs to be exposed. The Morning Star will be covering the story, but the rest of the national media barely raises an eyebrow.
Who are the decision makers? How many conferences? Are they just political perks or is this something that “the great and the good” in the business world also qualify for? Time for some answers - I'll update you as I get them.