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Monday, December 09, 2013


easy pickings 

imagine you are hated.
imagine that you have an image problem.
imagine that you have been caught with your hands in the till.
imagine that you are held in utter contempt.
imagine you are held responsible for much of the misery that the general population is suffering.

well normally this would be a case for max clifford, but he is otherwise engaged at the moment. this is a tad unfortunate for our members of parliament as they are on the verge of accepting an £7,000 pay rise (11% increase).

now you would think that the one group of members of parliament that would be up in arms about this use of public money would be the conservatives – so quick to criticise those on benefits: the shirkers who take benefits. yet the backbenchers of the tory party seem very quiet on the issue. (not that i hold out much hope from the labour members either).

the argument for the pay rise is simple: pay more money get better candidates. (of course this is an argument that doesn’t work when you get to lower levels of pay rates, it only seems to work at the top), the implication being that the current lot are not up to the job as they are accepting below the ‘market rate’ for the type of job they are doing.
in case you have forgotten the basic pay of a parliamentarian is £66,396, or to put it another over twice the national average wage.

the problem for parliamentarians is that the body that is about to announce the pay increase is the independent parliamentary standards authority (ipsa), and they don’t need parliamentary agreement to implement the changes (quite how that works i don’t know).
while they are an independent body they are pretty much part of that circle of people that parliamentarians belong to, plus they are also of a class of professionals who also stand to gain if salaries of parliamentarians increase because they can then justify their own future increases. (why are you calling me cynical?)
even ipsa realise they are on a bit of a sticky wicket as they have managed to ensure that there is a special definition for parliamentarians of ‘office holders’ that means they are not the same as public sector workers, and so are not bound by the pay constraints that have been imposed on such workers. (nice to have friends in the right places).
ipsa doesn’t have members of the public on its board. it is likely that the closest that they have come to speaking to the general public is to ask for a menu in the restaurant or to remind the cleaner to do a better job next time if they want to get paid.

now i don’t believe people should be going into politics to make a huge wage packet. i want them to become members of parliament because it is a vocation for them. i don’t believe that you do not get quality individuals just because the basic pay is only £66k, if we believed that we would be making sure that teachers and nurses were getting a lot more to ensure we got better people in those roles as well.
nor does a greater wage guarantee you get the best – just look at the quality of the financial sector some very very well paid people who somehow managed to engineer a financial disaster we are still struggling to get out of. or just think of serco, g4s or a4e where the executives are very well paid but somehow the companies are dicey.
just the sort of people i want to be in charge of the country.

while mps don’t have max to help them they have received some succour from a serial letter writer to the london evening standard. ‘like it or not,’ writes dominic (he is also an ‘author’), ‘i believe mps should get the proposed 11% salary increase. we should, however, expect a pro rata performance. for peanuts you get monkeys. with a handsome salary we can all – in theory – look forward to handsome results and an end to austerity. or so the theory goes.’

any man who can call £66k peanuts is divorced from the reality that the majority of us have to live in, and that alone is a good enough reason why parliamentarians should be paid salaries that are closer to the national average than further away from it.

yet when push comes to shove i suspect that they will all accept it and say they are worth it.

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