Willie Sullivan

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Cllr Willie Sullivan, Think tanker and New Labour functionary
Willie Sullivan (born 2 January 1966) is a Labour councillor in Fife, Scotland. He is on the board of Compass as its Scottish representative and is involved with a think tank called the Public Interest Foundation, associated with the Glasgow-based company Jabbar Group. Sullivan regularly appears in the media making the case for voting reform and he is a proponent of proportional representation. [1][2]

Politics

According to a BBC report on the 2003 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth: 'Willie Sullivan, from Dunfermline West, was heckled as he tried to make the point that "the principles behind foundation hospitals are socialist principles".[3] Sullivan added "this is a clash between local socialism and cental statism"[4]

Since 2003 Sullivan has become a critic of New Labour and its espousal of policies that favour the free market and individual interests at the expense of fairness and social responsibility, particularly as this affects Scotland.[5] In 2003 Sullivan described the Scottish Labour as “untrusting and untrusted” and “arrogant and insecure”.[6]

"Vote for a Change"

Sullivan is campaign director for 'Vote for a Change', the campaign for a referendum on a change to the voting system.[7] He favours proportional representation as part of the solution to the problem of politicians failing to put the interests of their constituents first.[8] In May 2010 Willie Sullivan was critical of the political system that allowed David Cameron to make a “big open offer” to the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government. Sullivan argued that “right now David Cameron is on all the news channels, announcing how he’s planning to form a government…his Conservatives having secured only 36 per cent of the vote nationwide,”, adding “It’s outrageous. But it’s not surprising, is it? This is what our broken system produces: broken elections”.[9] Sullivan co-signed a letter arguing for a referendum on voting reform within six months of the 2010 UK general election. The letter read:

We believe that the outcome of the general election now makes it imperative that the British people decide on the electoral system they wish to adopt in the future. We would ask that people from all parties and all walks of life support our view that a referendum should be held within six months of this general election to enable the people of the UK to make this decision.[10]

According to Sullivan's biography on The Guardian's website:

He was an official with the Scottish Labour Party where he realised that the current electoral system gives Party Managers and politicians too much power. He worked for Fairshare, the successful campaign to get a proportional system to elect Scotland Councillors and worked on Social Cohesion projects in the Southside of Glasgow, particularly with Muslim communities.[11]

Sullivan is critical of "the era of the hobby MP", when MPs give little attention to Parliamentary activities and their constituencies. He wrote in The Guardian:

when some politicians are holding down what are effectively full-time jobs in between representing their constituents, scrutinising legislation and keeping the government in check, something has to give. And that, it seems, is the voters... Constituents will continue playing second fiddle until we see a voting system that obliges politicians to focus on what's really important – the interests of their voters.[12]

Career

Sullivan's name came up in the Parliamentary Standards inquiry into the conduct of John Reid. Lesley Quinn, who succeeded Alex Rowley as General Secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland, noted that Sullivan worked for Rowley:

When I worked with Alex the only time I ever remember discussing with him much the employment of staff was Willie Sullivan. I had difficulties with Willie`s employment. Alex told me he wanted Willie to work as a Development Officer and Willie was meant to report to me as Line Manager but spent much of his time with responsibilities from Alex, i.e. driving him to meetings, speaking to people etc. I found this difficult... Regarding Willie Sullivan, I had the opportunity to extend his contract and decided not to do this.[13]

Sullivan was apparently worried by being dragged into the enquiry and phoned the Commissioner for Standards, Elizabeth Filkin in what seems to have been a panic:

Willie Sullivan telephoned me having received my letter. He said he was very anxious about things because "he believed he would be finished in the Labour Party if he talked to me". I said I was sure that was not the case, that the Standards and Privileges Committee had a majority of Labour Members on it and they would be grateful and impressed if he were brave and informed me of what he knew. He said what worried him was that it was the Labour majority, because he was sure that anything he said would leak into the Party.
I explained my procedures to him and that I was currently getting information from a wide number of people about what had happened. He said that there were some of the questions that he had no knowledge of which concerned formal employment arrangements but that he was party to conversations in the office and indeed some of the individuals told him what the situation was. I asked him either to write that to me or to have another conversation with me on the telephone and tell it to me so that I could send him a note. He said he would write to me with the information and I thanked him.[14]

Electoral Reform Society

Willie Sullivan is the director of the Scottish office of the Electoral Reform Society.[15]

Political consultancy work

In 2007 it emerged that MSP’s spent £149,300 in Scottish Parliament allowance money on consultancy fees. 90% of the money, £135,000 was given to people in the same party as the MSP who commissioned the work. As part of this arrangement Labour MSP Alan Wilson spent £28,850 on research, speeches and reports that were prepared by Willie Sullivan.[16]

Nigel Griffiths

Nigel Griffiths the MP for Edinburgh South lists William Sulliam as a local businessman who sponsors the Unsung Heroes awards scheme in his register of interests.[17]

Affiliations

Publications, Resources and Notes

Publications

Resources

Notes

  1. Willie Sullivan Et al., Letter: Now or never for electoral reform, The Guardian, 8-May-2010
  2. John Rentoul, Clegg’s right to cosy up to Cameron; But the Lib Dem leader has boxed himself into a poor bargaining position – and earned the ire of the left’s wishful thinkers, The Independent on Sunday, 9-May-2010
  3. Jackie Storer, BBC News Online political staff in Bournemouth, 'Citizen Reid tries to woo the popular front', BBC News, Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
  4. David Charter, Foundation hospitals: Defeat will not divert proposals, The Times, 2-October-2003
  5. Willie Sullivan, Direction, location, destination and a compass, Scottish Left Review, 2009, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  6. Kate Foster, ‘Dishonest’ Labour must reform now or face public mauling, Daily Mail, 13-January-2003
  7. Profile: Willie Sullivan, The Guardian website, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  8. Willie Sullivan, No more parliamentary part-timers, The Guardian, 1 July 2009, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  9. John Rentoul, Clegg’s right to cosy up to Cameron; But the Lib Dem leader has boxed himself into a poor bargaining position – and earned the ire of the left’s wishful thinkers, The Independent on Sunday, 9-May-2010
  10. Willie Sullivan Et al., Letter: Now or never for electoral reform, The Guardian, 8-May-2010
  11. Profile: Willie Sullivan, The Guardian website, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  12. Willie Sullivan, No more parliamentary part-timers, The Guardian, 1 July 2009, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  13. Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report ANNEX A STATEMENTS FROM LESLIE QUINN, ANNMARIE WHYTE AND JONATHAN UPTON Statement of Lesley Quinn taken by D Sandison on 3 October 2000, accessed 25 November 2008
  14. Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report, Annex 171 'File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Willie Sullivan, 21 March 2000 Telephone call with Willie Sullivan
  15. Severin Carell, Alarm bells sound in Scotland over next general election, The Guardian, 13-May-2010
  16. Tom Gordon, Deposed MSPs cash in as party ‘consultants’, The Sunday Times, 1-July-2007
  17. Nigel Griffiths, Register of Members Interests, UK Parliament, Accessed 17-July-2010
  18. Fife Council Cllr. Willie Sullivan, accessed 25 November 2008