‘COLLECT £9,600, do not go directly to jail” - that is the latest card on the Parliamentary Monopoly board, offering additional largesse to MPs.
The proposal by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) to increase MPs’ salaries by 11 per cent at a time when other public sector wage increases are capped at 1 per cent is a reminder that “We are all in this together”; it is just that some of us are deeper in it than others.
Naturally, the Ipsa proposal comes with elaborate PR trimmings. It is emphasised that many parliamentary perks are to be reduced. The old-style resettlement grants of £65,000 are to be cut; MPs will no longer be able to claim £15 every night they undertake the strenuous public duty of eating dinner; by 2015 those who lose an election will only be given £33,000 compensation for being sacked by an ungrateful electorate; the bill for TV licences and contents insurance for second homes will no longer be met by the taxpayer. There will be tighter rules regarding payment for taxis and hotels.
Before you dissolve into tears at the plight of our hairshirt tribunes, ask yourself the following questions. Do you routinely claim £15 from your employer (if you have a job) for your evening meal? Do you bank your salary and then charge your hotel bills, etc to your boss? Assuming you are not a local councillor, trade union official or other political parasite, you probably entertained the notion that the normal arrangement is that you do a job of work, receive payment for it and then meet your household and other bills out of that sum. That, after all, has been the presumed purpose of remunerated employment for generations.
Members of parliament, however, seem to be under the impression that their salaries are a gratuity to be salted away for personal gratification while they hold out their hands for further monies to cover those activities that mere mortals support out of their income.
Clearly, with the prospect of trousering nearly £10,000 extra, there is a good time coming for duckhouse proprietors. Following the slight unpleasantness over their expenses, however, there is an awareness of the PR consequences of openly accepting this windfall, hence the grandstanding rejections of the proposal by Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg – and Alex Salmond in Scotland – leading to the likelihood that, in a charade similar to that in which a House of Commons Speaker who has conspired singlemindedly for the post is dragged with assumed reluctance to the chair, MPs may have to be hauled to the trough by Ipsa. Such “independent” awards bodies can always be relied on to maintain solidarity with the principle of public sector entitlement.
It is difficult to imagine any less worthy candidates for an 11 per cent pay rise than the moral detritus on the slime-green benches. They have wrecked our economy, subjected us to Eurotyranny, changed our entire demography via enforced mass immigration, all but abolished our armed forces, destroyed marriage, waged war on the family and turned our country into a PC police state. Now they are to be rewarded on a scale that no hardworking breadwinner can imagine. Yet if it hastens the day when the public wreaks vengeance on these persecutors and incompetents it may be no bad thing.
An even worse provocation, similarly guaranteed to arouse public anger, is the prospect that lurks behind Ed Miliband’s tiff with the Unite union over recruitment of members to the Labour Party. We are seeing the first hand being played in a poker game designed to end in the introduction of taxpayers’ compulsory financing of political parties. This would not be “cleaner” or more “transparent”, as the self-interested cant has it, but an outrage and a further encroachment on freedom. Ironically, guaranteed public subvention would make politicians even more indifferent to public opinion than they are already. Allocation of funds, being based on previous votes cast, would help preserve the three consensual Westminster parties that have so badly alienated support and impede progress by new parties, such as Ukip, challenging the status quo.
It is intolerable that individuals’ fiscally-confiscated income should be doled out to political parties they detest. If a political party cannot attract sufficient support to keep it afloat, then it is time it was allowed to sink, rather than synthetically preserved, despite its unpopularity, to continue affronting public opinion.
The common feature of these issues is the sense of entitlement of the political class. The arrogant belief by nonentities that £65,000 is an inadequate salary for political hackwork demonstrates their divorce from reality. The notion that trampling over the most cherished interests and institutions of the British people should be termed “public service” is an impertinence. In 2015 those delusions will be terminated. «