“We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.”
The basic annual salary of a British MP is currently £74,000. Alongside this they receive allowances for accommodation, second homes, and various expenses to pay for travel + food etc.
As an example, they receive £9,000 for postage and stationary.
This raises the question of their need for such a high salary. They are fed, housed, and travel at the taxpayer’s expense, and therefore have no expenditure to speak of, yet they still receive an exorbitant salary three times that of a Doctor’s starting salary. This pay is relieved regardless of their performance, their attendance and their contribution to British Politics in general.
This pay doesn’t take into account all the other benefits that come with being a member of parliament. You easily walk through the revolving door into CEO positions, receive extravagant gifts from corporations to use your connections and even get to edit a newspaper while still being paid by the taxpayer to be an MP. George Osborne will be paid by the taxpayer to play at politics in his spare time alongside his other job of running a newspaper.
In my opinion this is not how a democracy should function. Despite Dave’s statement that we are “all in this together”, this appears to be far from the truth. I have found 3 main arguments for why the pay is so high and I aim to refute them and put forward a better way of structuring pay for Members of British Parliament.
Reason 1: High Pay = High Quality
The best way to get the best people for the important jobs is to pay them better. The more money we offer, the more people apply for the job so the more likely we are to get the best MP.
Argument 1.1: High Pay = Money-Orientated
If you offer lots of money for a job you get a different sort of person applying for it, and that person is often money-orientated. They chose to be an MP not because of any desire for civil duty, but because they want money.
We do not want MPs who became MPs to be paid well.
The sorts of people who we want to be politicians are the kinds driven by political ideals and a desire to make the country better, not those who want to make their bank balance better. If we cut the salary all the greedy money-orientated people wouldn’t apply, but those with a strong desire for civic duty would still apply.
If we cut the salary we would get a better quality of applicants.
Argument 1.2: High Pay = Ivory Tower
If you pay MPs so well, they will get worse at their jobs because they will lose touch with reality. How many MPs have to chose between heating their homes and feeding their families, while the poorest and most vulnerable in our society make that calculation ever day.
The MPs will lose touch with the struggles of the average Brit and actually become worse at their jobs because of their high salary.
Reason 2: High Pay = Equality
We need to pay MPs well so that everybody can become an MP. A low salary would stop the poorest in our country from becoming MPs at all.
Argument 2.1: Benefits = Equality, High Pay = Profit
We already ensure everybody can become an MP by subsidising their rent, food and travel. At no point do MPs have to spend their own money to do their jobs or run their campaigns, that is already covered by the taxpayer.
The high pay therefore is pure profit, straight into a bank account. We can slash that profit by 90% and still anybody could afford to be an MP because all their day-to-day expenses are covered by us.
Argument 2.2: High Pay hasn’t generated Equality
90% of current MPs went to university. 38% of them came from Oxbridge. Since 2010 the umber of MPs from public schools has been steadily rising.
This high salary has not generated equality, it has simply meant that instead of becoming bankers/lawyers etc. those from wealthy backgrounds now pursue politics as a way of remaining at the top of the upper-middle class.
Reason 3: High Pay = Incorruptible
We pay MPs well so that their loyalty is to the state and not to private interests. If we paid them poorly they’d be open to bribery from corporations.
Argument 3.1: They’re still corruptible
Private interests can offer them things that we can’t, whether that be positive press coverage, a future job or money for the party. The cash-for honours scandle is a prime example of this, where MPs were bribed to give out knighthoods to ensure greater party funding.
Argument 3.2: We can’t compete
The salary and wages (and bribes) are orders of magnitude greater than we could ever compete with. Even if it were true that paying them so much would make them impossible to corrupt, the British taxpayer cannot compete with Saudi princes and international banks when trying to buy loyalty.
Argument 3.3: Morality
If the only reason an MP isn’t taking a bribe is because (s)he’s paid well to not take one, (s)he shouldn’t be an MP.
Outlined below are my ideas for reducing pay and expenditure while also increasing the quality and diligence of the MPs we hire. Each of these solutions can be implemented in tandem; they are not mutually exclusive.
Idea 1: House all MPs in council housing
a) Truly shows we are all in this together
b) Saves a great deal of money on second home allowance/rent etc.
c) Shows MPs the conditions that their constituents live in, driving them to improve the housing quality as it will directly affect their own.
Idea 2: Pay all MPs a Means Tested National Average Wage
a) Eliminates the money-minded MPs while retaining the truly motivated ones
b) It is already considered an acceptable wage for the average citizen, so why not for the politicians themselves?
c) They will be motivated to improve the economy and the salaries of their constituents as it directly affects their own.
Idea 3: Make MPs Bank Statements Publicly Accessible
a) They are spending our money, so we should be allowed to see where it goes
b) We can also easily see their various sources of income, thus making it harder to receive a bribe or have a conflict of interests.
Ultimately MPs will never cut their own salaries for as long as they have control over their own pay so this entire post was completely pointless.
I don’t know how wordpress works, but I look forward to reading comments/ideas as to where I’m wrong and how I could become more right.