Question – Who earns the least:
a) Your GP?
b) Your MP?
c) Your Local Academy Head Teacher?
d) Your Local Councillor?
You know I wouldn’t be asking this if the answer wasn’t b) your MP and it seems surprising really that we moan about people who are asked to make decisions on our behalf everyday are paid less than those who choose to work for local councils instead. While this is not universally true on average it is the case – so are we too prejudiced against MPs to see what they are being asked to do on a comparatively low wage? And is there a dark side to the low wage that we maybe haven’t considered?
I have found myself going back and forth on this subject for a long time, but have come to the conclusion that to represent your constituency for £66,396 per year is actually embarrassing. These people are expected to make the toughest of decisions on our behalf yet we are surprised when they push the rules on expenses and other such “freebies”. But here’s one for you – did you know that the average wage for an Oil Worker has just gone up to £73,000 per year from £64,000? Neither did I until I recently did a series of presentations with a group of OPITO students at Altens. When you start looking at comparative wages to MPs and those with jobs above the £70k threshold it does seem strange that we are as picky about them and not others. Engineers, Architects, Internal Communications, Medium sized Businesses CEOs, Business development manager, Marketing & PR director, Pathologist all earn over £70,000 with the best companies – or more depends on the business. So here’s the next question – is it about money?
A pay rise as proposed by the Independent panel of £7,600 per MP would cost the taxpayer £4.6m which in the grand scheme of things is nothing. So I believe that there is a bigger issue – that it’s about the fact we don’t like he toffs and the privileged telling us what to do; they fiddle expenses, patronise us and tell us what to do but know nothing of our lives. What’s the solution? Let’s get more middle class or working class people into Parliament. So you’re earning £45,000 in a medium-sized office and you’ve got another 25 years of work ahead of you – would you swap that for £18k more to become an MP when you could earn that in the next few years with the right promotions? If we paid more to MPs would we actually interest more people to head to Westminster? At the moment those who have personal wealth like much of the two front benches it’s not about the wage – it’s about the power, so what if we balanced things up?
If we paid £100,000 as a basic wage for MPs and then increased the ministers, cabinet and Prime Minister’s wages accordingly would it now look more appealing to you or I? It’s a point that is starting to be made by commentators that if you want to attract the sharpest minds and biggest talents, like any business, you have to pay for that. Of course I’m not advocating a blank cheque, there would be provisos involved like a halls of residence style accommodation with canteens/cafes for MPs to stop the second homes & claims issues and also I would ban them from having any other job, board membership or freebies. That simple change would save us enough to largely afford the pay rise.
You see it’s easy to moan at MPs for what they get – but then if you consider the freebies, so-called “Business” Trips, golfing days, away days, jollies and other perks that many businesses have, including some areas f the public sector, why is it MPs who bear the brunt of the anger. If we change the pay and the system in a simple way, you might actually find regional voices, intelligent minds, business and accounts people and other professionals seriously considering a job in Parliament rather than the toffs and tossers we have now. I suggest you get what you pay for.