Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The thoughts of an official photographer (unpaid)

As regular readers will know, during the general election I worked (on an expenses only basis) as the in-house photographer for the Lib Dems covering Nick Clegg's tour around the country. So today's row about Andrew Parsons making the move from working for Cameron to working for the Government is of particular interest to me.

On the one hand, I have a great deal of sympathy for Andy. He is a genuinely nice guy who doesn't deserve the flak he is catching at the moment.

On the other hand, Cameron does seem to have skirted the normal rules. Whilst senior ministers are allowed political appointments - so called special advisers - they cannot be seen to be giving politically neutral civil service jobs to their mates. Andrew Parsons has been given a role not as a political appointee, but as a civil servant and that appears to breach the rules. Straight after the general election, a civil servant told me as a matter of course (I wasn't seeking a role) that I could not be given work by the government, even on a casual basis, because of my previous ties to the Lib Dems. I think that rule is fair enough. So why the different case for Cameron's snapper?

What really surprises me is that Andy would want the job. Being on the election trail is actually quite exciting. Being a government photographer seems anything but with endless hanging around waiting for a hand shake.

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