Monday, December 04, 2006

Tentative Support for MP's Pay Rise Claims.

Recent news has included MPs demanding a 66% pay rise something this blog feels would be fair. Considering how much they currently get paid (about £55-60 k per annum) and the hours they put in, they are severely underpaid. Compared to headteachers, one wonders why anyone wold become an MP.

However, I emphasise the "tentative." I just got off the phone with my dear folks, oop nawf (see picture, right*). We had the usual conversation, I was mainly calling to see how my pops was, having just been released from hosdpital, so I did the requisite "wish I was still around, feel bad not being there" line (which is genuine). Then my mother got onto this pay rise business and, specifically, my abysmal financial treatment since working in Westminster. I defended the pay rise as being fair, but the fact is (as she insisted on pointing out to me, and as everyone else feels necessary to point out to me, like living on boiled rice for two months hadn't escaped my attention) they could have prioritised their demands. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can see the legitimacy of their case yet also feels that they would have appeared more justified in raising said case had they also included (and perhaps empahsised) the need for a pay increase for staff and an intern's fund of some description.

* I wish I was exaggerating, but this really is where I was born and raised. Okay, I am exaggerating slightly - the fire has since gone out. But that is where I was born and raised. I just couldn't find an "after" shot.

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Anonymous angus said...

£50,000 + isn't enough for a backbench MP? You must be joking! I would say if anything a pay cut, rather than a pay rise, is in order. There is no shortage of people wanting to become MPs, nor do I want MPs who are in it for the money, or who are massively better off than 90% of the people they are supposed to be representing.

thanks for returning the books, by the way :)

12/05/2006 4:23 PM  
Blogger Scrybe said...

but I take it you did like my depiction of LVP? ;P

no probs on the books front - got some good yet tentative news I shall soon(ish) be boasting about, if it comes off.

12/05/2006 5:43 PM  
Anonymous angus said...

Hope whatever it is comes off!

Re: Liverpool, I approve, lol.

Didn't know your dad had been in hospital: you have my sympathies.

12/05/2006 6:53 PM  
Anonymous David Floyd said...

Problem with the MPs pay thing is that £55K isn't enough money to attract most top people - so if you want MPs to be top people you have to pay more.

Labour's 1997 intake in particular included a number of people who I think would be borderline unemployable in the outside world, let alone able to earn £55K a year but this is partly because they were standing in seats where there weren't expected to win and partly adds to the argument that better wages might attract better people.

Also, one of the reasons why the Tories have been such a useless opposition is most people who are right-wing and clever would prefer to get a high paid job in business/the City than become an MP.
Of course some of them become MPs and take high paid jobs in the City but that's part of it, too.

All that said, there's a broader question over whether the qualities that are most likely to help you become an MP, are the qualities most likely to lead to you being any good once you've been elected.

12/06/2006 12:55 PM  
Blogger Scrybe said...

david, agreed on the real-world employment prospects of some MPs. but shouldn't you be working right now, too? lol, j/p. friday evening is definitely good for the chat, btw.

angus, I'll brag once its official. re my pops, thanks for that - he goes in intermittently so I'm beyond the point of making a big deal about it or getting too worried. and he's out today anyway. thanks for the sentiment, much appreciated.

12/06/2006 1:09 PM  
Anonymous angus said...


no I don't want more 'top people' in parliament. The Labour party was founded to increase the number of ordinary people in parliament.

I am also pleased by the fact the Tories have not been an effective opposition and would not want to change that.

I would also ban MPs from having outside jobs.

12/06/2006 4:56 PM  
Anonymous David Floyd said...

Agree on outside jobs but not clear on the link between mediocre wages and ordinary people.

I do support having more ordinary people in parliament, in terms of people from a wide range of class backgrounds but - though Trotskyist parties suggest otherwise - I think these people are more likely to go into politics if they're paid properly.

Being an MP isn't a nice job compared to similarly renumerated jobs in the private sector or even in local government/Quango middle-management.

The present structure is designed to attract people who value the idea of power (obviosly, in reality, they don't have much) and the sound of their own voice above most other things - including financial security.

12/06/2006 6:12 PM  
Anonymous angus said...

Three times the average wage plus an extremely generous pension scheme would seem a sufficient financial inducement and security for ordinary people, even if not for people in the top 1% of the population. We are only talking about backbenchers, not ministers. This is why I think the comparison with people at the top of their professions is somewhat flawed.

What is really happening is that top salaries have been roaring ahead and politicians who come across these circles have become envious of this and think they would rather like to join in. I would rather Labour politicians at least would instead seek to do something about growing pay inequality.

12/07/2006 12:14 AM  
Blogger Scrybe said...

"If MPs propose more pay rises for themselves, we will soon see David Beckham looking for a parliamentary seat" - Former Tory MP Harry Greenway.

I'll post seriously about this tomorrow though - promise!

12/07/2006 12:25 AM  
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"I would rather Labour politicians at least would instead seek to do something about growing pay inequality."

They should do but I think the question of whether Labour should pursue an unflichingly pro-capitalist economic policy is different to the question of whether, once the government has pursued an unflinchingly pro-capitalist economic policy, public servants should adequately rewarded.

I accept your suggestion that most backbenchers are not currently people at the top of their professions but I think, in the interests of democracy, they should be.

12/07/2006 12:43 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Re Angus' comments

1) If you paid MPs what they could earn outside parliament, they'd have less incentive to do additional jobs and / or bump their expenses up to what they need to meet their outgoings

2)If wages are poor relative to equivalent jobs, talent, both right wing and left wing will not seek public service. This will ultimately lead to poorer government and weaker politics. Not a good outcome for anyone.

3) Comparing to the average national wage is misleading - you have to compare to similar public and private sector jobs. Btw most private sector jobs with equivalent job security would be higher paid still. The PM's salary is less than virtually all FTSE 100 full-time board directors. Whose job is more important?

3) Wages for MPs were introduced precisely to allow people without third party incomes to be able to represent people

4) You're arguing that market forces should push wages down. That seems an odd argument... Just because lots of people want to do a job, it doesn't mean that they have the ability to do that job. Take law firms, the 'magic circle' firms pay the best yet they have the highest number of applications per place or degree courses. The most oversubscribed courses are able to seek the most suited to those courses. Or premiership football. Most people I know would cut off their right arm to be paid to play sport all day but can't because they haven't got the ability, hence why the top players can command higher wages. You may not like it, but that's the way it is.

12/07/2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous angus said...


Free market forces *should* push wages down. The whole point of professions
like law is to *restrict* entry to those reaching a certain standard and so keep wages up. Or keep quality up, depending on which way you look at it.

But there are no recognised professional standards for being an MP, nor is it clear you can simply measure someone's ability to be one by, say, academic qualifications. In a democracy, anyone can stand for election.

I don't accept you can separate the question of politicians pay from inequality
in general when politicians are uniquely placed to deal with the latter.

The fact that payment of MPs was originally introduced to allow ordinary people
to serve in parliament is irrelevant: nobody is arguing MPs should not be
paid. Nor even do I agree with the view of the far left that they should be
paid the average wage. But I do think the present claim is excessive.

I don't accept politicians pay is poor relative to equivalent jobs: you are
ignoring the influence/prestige factor that you mentioned earleir which
inevitably exists and is an additional benefit. You are also ignoring the
existence of a public service motivation, particularly on the left.

Comparing to the wages most people earn is not misleading if the question we
are discussing is whether ordinary people will be attracted into parliament.

Unless you are arguing the ability to be an MP is inherently concentrated in a
tiny elite fraction of the population and that we couldn't find 650 'ordinary
people' capable of doing the job. I do hope that is not your argument...

12/08/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger parburypolitica said...

I really think that people don't do it for the money. I think that for the work that some of them do they are unpaid compared with say GP's. 100K a year.

At this rate the average GP will be earning more that the sec of state for health let alone humble back benchers.

I think a 100k a year for MP's is taking the mick but a significant rise isn't out of order if there is a ban on outside earnings.

But wouldn't this create a cadre of career politicians? Well they should be politicians as they are members of parliament

I wouldn't ban them from doing outside work but the wages should be given to charity. This would sort the wheat from the chaff. Who was actually interested in gaining greater life experience and who was looking to make some bucks while ignoring the constituency that sent them there in the first place.

12/09/2006 8:01 PM  
Anonymous angus said...

Interesting ideas. On the question of GPs, are they now not-due to the decisions of some politicians-overpaid for the work they do compared with most comparable jobs? I wouldn't want to respond to one anomaly by creating another.

12/10/2006 6:25 PM  

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