Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Different Worlds

MPs’ pay should be increased by £6,000 to £74,000 a year from 2015, the Commons expenses watchdog has said.BBC News Website 11 July 2013 MPs’ pay: Watchdog calls for rise of more than £6,000

Wait a moment, £6,000 is more than some of us earn in a year.  And who says MPs should be paid more than Army Colonels, Police Superintendents, Senior Civil Servants and Head Teachers?

Personally a backbench MPs job sounds a lot easier and cushier than any of the above.

They have asked an independent body (IPSA) to assess MPs pay – what criteria where they given?  It all sounds very much like the cosy corporate Remuneration Committees that seek to keep their directors “In the top quartile for pay”.  The above BBC report gives IPSA comparisons for legislators elsewhere:

Spain £44,618
France £52,028
UK (Westminster) £65,738
Germany £72,294
United States £111,251
Japan £167,784

Overseas comparisons  are pretty irrelevant. If you want to be paid like an American Legislator, go to the United States, acquire citizenship, go through the primary process and join the pork barrel political scene.

There is little proof that paying £6,000 more will get “better legislators”.  You become an MP by getting in with a local political party and proving to its selection committee that you will represent them appropriately.  You do not hear of huge selection problems because of lack of candidates.  Yes you get rogue MPs (Labour rogues tend to be of modest means, Conservative rogues tend to be richer) but there is little to show that extra pay will make a difference.

If MPs say they have to take on outside work which may compromise them to “make ends meet”, they should take the Prime Minister’s, the Chancellor’s and the Communities Secretary’s advice (that they dish out so freely to others) – learn to live within your means.  There should be strict limits on the amount, type and remuneration of outside work.

I have worked on fixed term contracts; I did not get “resettlement pay” at the end of my contract – I was just waved good-bye (some employers even made me sign “redundancy waivers” to remove any doubt about the nature of my employment contract).  An MP’s job sounds very much like a fixed term contract – with the usual risk that it may not be renewed.

The proposed pay is about three times the current average salary; if they want that sort of pay they have to show that they are three times better than average.  Most backbench MPs are not (even if you ignore their behaviour at Prime Minister’s Questions).

If they wish to point towards the quality of their campaigning and case work, they are welcome to look at the salaries of most charity workers or social workers for a “suitable comparator”.

They are in a different world and they do not understand.


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