Ken O’Neill, Lothians’ newest independent candidate, has explained his manifesto promise to donate money from his monthly MSP salary to a local charity. If elected, Mr O’Neill has said he will give at least £100 to a Lothians charity, as chosen by people via a monthly poll on his website.
Mr O’Neill said:
I believe in noblesse oblige – that with wealth, power and prestige come responsibilities. This is Public Service in the widest possible sense. The UK Government now contains more multi-millionaires than ever before. They tell us that we are in this together and how the Big Society will solve our problems. At the same time their extreme cuts are reducing charity funding, making it harder for them to do their job. I will do my part to help the local charities, with the voters deciding which ones benefit.
MSPs receive a generous salary, one that is more than twice the average Scottish wage – £56,000. That’s before you include the various expenses and allowances they can claim, such as the Family Travel Allowance or the Winding Up Allowance. Given the current economic circumstances we find ourselves in, charities are finding it harder than ever to raise funds. That’s why I am proposing making this donation to charities that are based and work in the Lothians. This is not a publicity stunt, I believe that with great power comes great responsibility. I want to give something back to the community I live in and who will hopefully decide I can represent them at Holyrood.
Each month, registered users of my website will have the opportunity to vote for one of three local charities – such as Lothian Autistic Society, which helps children and young people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, or Headway East Lothian, which helps people with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). The charity with the most votes would then receive the money at the start of the following month. Each charity will only have one chance to receive this donation, but all unsuccessful organisations will then go into the hat for a final chance in December. Needless to say, this proposal will not stop me donating in a private capacity during the year, taking part in fund-raising events or volunteering as time allows.
- Lothian Autistic Society provides high quality services to children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including their families and carers. They promote and develop services for their support and personal growth. These enhance children’s and young people’s life experiences and improve their independent living skills away from their home environment.
- Headway East Lothian offers sessions in Musselburgh, Haddington and Dunbar throughout the week for individuals with an ABI to attend. These groups are a gateway to a social network of people who have an ABI in common or who care for an individual with an ABI. They also provide information on ABI, information on managing symptoms, outreach and advice on welfare, benefits and returning to work.