Cameron has already ordered his troops to stop claiming dodgy expenses and it now seems likely that all MPs will finally lose their gold-plated expense fiddles. As sure as Hoon has houses they will inevitably demand pay rises. Examine the situation: an MP’s current compensation package (without dishonesty or blatant looting) is worth some £120,000 to £130,000 if added to the basic salary are their “within the rules” allowances and pensions valued at pre-tax equivalent market rates. Guido gives a range because of arguments as to the value of their pension package. So let us settle on a figure of £125,000 as the current all-in value of their package. Don’t forget many of them also increase the household income by employing children and spouses (or their 80-year-old mother in Peter Hain’s case). MP’s basic salaries of £64.766 puts them in the top 3% of earners. MP’s all-in packages put them in the top 1% of earners, yet they are in the words of the late Tony Banks “a sort of high-powered social worker”. Social workers are paid £30,000 a year.
There is an all party consensus developing in Westminster that to make up for their loss of fiddles they should get a pay rise of some £30,000 – a rise equivalent to the aforesaid social worker’s annual salary, or the annual pay of an army officer risking his life in the taliban’s line of fire. What on earth makes politicians think they are worth three times as much as a lieutenant in Helmand? Being paid to hang round in taxpayer subsidised bars in SW1 for a late vote is not exactly as stressful as taking deadly incoming fire from AK47s or writing to the mothers and wives of young men under your command who have given their lives for their country.
The politicians of SW1 are by comparison undeserving, untrustworthy and overpaid. They have a sense of self-entitlement that is as unjustified as their use of the term “honourable”. They will try to justify a pay rise by comparison to surgeons or headmasters. We need high pay to attract and retain those professionals. Every available safe seat attracts hundreds of applicants, there is no need to raise the rewards. Paying politicians high rewards attracts exactly the wrong type of careerist into politics and the political class have now shown themselves to be as despicable as they are interchangeable. We want people in politics who are more like good priests – poor and honest.