Paying Interns – A Reply to Tory Radio….

Tory Radio has an interesting blog on whether payment of interns will be detrimental. The author obviously has extensive experience of involvement in politics:

I have been a political adviser, association chairman, regional deputy chairman parliamentary candidate twice, and guess what.. received not a penny for it.

Of course, nobody occupying similar positions would usually expect to be paid either. However, if he has been Parliamentary candidate twice then the MP’s salary that possibly awaits at the end surely counts as some kind of at least potential remuneration. Interns and committed Party activists (for whichever party) are not always the same thing (though, of course, they can be) so it is wrong to conflate the two. It is right that none of the roles occupied by Tory have clear job descriptions (though in the case of candidates at least they do have a selection procedure) so again its wrong to compare them with internships because even a short visit to work4anmp will show that political internships invariably do have detailed job descriptions.

In fact, Tory says:

If someone is given a 6 month role with clear responsibilities then I can accept they should get paid.

Certainly, as I have just argued it is defiantly the case that by Tory’s own admission this means internships should be paid. The essential problem with Tory’s argument is he consistently interchanges the terms ‘intern’ and ‘volunteer’ reducing the former to somebody who does something purely out of their committment to the cause and lack any kind of specialisation and this is far from the reality often of what internships are. It is completely wrong to argue that the army of volunteers that invariably appear say, at election time, and do require management are the same as long-term interns and besides does not anybody entering a new profession (as ‘green’ interns are) often, in the short-term require more management than they do in the long-term? We would not say an apprentice electrician should not be paid because initially they require alot of supervision. They maybe be paid less than the going rate but they are still paid.

Tory then goes a bit naive saying the pay back is a ‘good reference and to learn a few things’ all of which may have some purchase but are currently not legal coin of the realm so are therefore inadequate to say pay the rent or buy some food. I would argue that the answer to Tory’s concluding question is quite clear; there is quite a clear place where volunteering ends and interning begins so there is nothing he says that makes a convincing case for interns not to be paid.


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About darrellgoodliffe


3 responses to “Paying Interns – A Reply to Tory Radio….”

  1. Jonathan Sheppard says :

    Interesting piece but you would expect I wouldnt agree to it all. There isn’t a clear definition between what an intern is and what a volunteer is. If we are saying anything that has a job description actually needs a salary then the voluntary sector had better watch out! Being Chairman of a local association has clear responsibilities and sometimes even line management responsibilities of a paid agent for example.

    On the MPs salary at the end of being a candidate…. the same argument could be said for the possibility that at the end of an unpaid 6 month internship (and Ive never said I advocate that) you could get a permanent job. That happens alot, so should the same rules apply?

    Apprentice electricians are paid as an investment on the training but would be expected to stay around at the company. Interns and volunteers often move one quickly. The short terms commitment to training isn’t always paid back in the long term.

    Obviously Im being argumentative but food for thought?


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Thanks for your reply. You see here I disagree. Please indulge me a little and look at work4anmp. I also have some personal experience here and know that interns can indeed have a clear job description. I think its pretty obvious there are differences between the two and it is easy to demarcate the two.

    Yes but they are not codified in the way you ackowledge in your piece merits monetary reward. This is true but these are not written down and are undertaken as a clear gift of that persons time. You could get a permanent job but its far from guranteed, granted the same is true of candidature but there is something else here. Of course, national politics will be beyond the candidates control but the campaign is something they can control and therefore use as endeavour to win that salary.

    Interns can be exactly the same thing; an investment. There is no reason why a paid intern, especially if they are also a committed member, would not remain loyal to their MP and their Party. Certainly and thanks for your reply.


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