Saturday, August 15, 2009

MPs deserve to be paid handsomely. Oh wait, they are

Alan Duncan is half right. MPs are indeed treated, by the public and the media, like what the Telegraph tactfully paraphrases as “****”. This is unfair. They do an important and difficult job, and most of them put a hell of a lot of effort into it. They do this job knowing that their personal performance has fairly little bearing on their re-election prospects.

But he’s also half wrong. MPs’ remuneration is and will remain a damn sight more than “rations”. And this is atrocious:

No-one who has done anything in the outside world, or is capable of doing such a thing, will ever come into this place ever again, the way we are going.

It is a sad thing to assume that the only worthwhile achievements are ones that pay a lot of money. It’s another sad thing to assume that high achievers are only motivated by money. And it’s a third sad thing to assume that an MPs’ salary – £64,766 – isn’t an awful lot of money. It puts them comfortably into the top 10% of earners.

I have nothing against very rich people being MPs and ministers. What worries me is when we have MPs and ministers (and mayors) who realise neither how very rich they are nor, by implication, how comparatively hard up are low- or even middle-income households.

Maybe the only solution is to take the current dynamic of mood swings, distrust, loathing, fear and co-dependence between politicians, public and media to its logical conclusion. Very simply, we could bring back the ancient Celtic tradition of king-sacrifice. We put them into power, lavish them with adoration and treasure for seven years, and then all get together to ceremonially execute them.

It’s kinder and fairer then the current system (and ultimately cheaper – think of the savings on pensions). It would satisfy everyone: the egomaniac politicians get to be deified, pampered and then pass into legend; the media get to build up heroes only to brutally tear them down; and the public get to vent their anger before they get too sick of the same old faces, as well as having a nice day out.

1 comment:

Neil Harding said...

Actually, according to the IFS via Chris Dillow's blog - MPs salary of £64k puts them in the top 3% of earners in this country. And that is without taking into account their very generous expenses.

It is so frustrating and insulting to hear MPs and the media constantly talk about being underpaid.