Ryeview – April 2008

Why Mps don’t campaign against injustice

John Clark writes…

First published: April 2008

Twenty five years ago the Chief Executives of Britain’s biggest companies were paid 17 times the average wage of the workforce. This is described as ‘motivational’, ‘what the market dictates’, ‘reflects their responsibility’ etc. Now they are paid 75 times the workforce wage.

Twenty five years ago the state pension was linked to earnings. Now it has fallen way behind.

Twenty five years ago students had a grant and a university education was ‘free’. Now students leave university with a massive debt.

MP’s are not campaigning against these injustices because they don’t affect them.

  • MPs don’t receive low wages.
  • MPs have enhanced pensions.
  • They went through university when it was free. Now that their children are at that stage the MPs are earning more than enough (£60,000 salary plus housing perks of £25,000 plus any other income from outside jobs) to pay for their children.

People in this financial position don’t usually understand those who are suffering financial pressures. Their salary means that the 11.8% increase in gas/electricity and heating fuel is hardly noticeable. Water going up at over 5% doesn’t even register.

Labour MPs applauded Gordon Brown when he reduced Income Tax from 22 to 20p. (£1,000 Tax reduction for all those paid £50,000+). No concerns, protests or even mention that those on the bottom of the earnings ladder had their Tax doubled from 10% to 20%.

MPs agree on the ‘celebration of high incomes’. They have spent 3 years fighting Freedom of Information requests to find out about their perks.  To the voters (or more likely the non-voters) it appears that “they are all the same”.

There is a solution. MPs should be subject to their ‘market’.  An MPs salary should be the national average wage – about £25,000. There are dozens of applicants for each post of MP. Political Parties reduce these to the ‘short list’ who stand at the General Election. Some come from less than £25,000. They should be delighted to have a pay rise if elected. The others come from above £25,000.  How do they expect half the British working population to survive on £25,000 if they cannot? When they live on £25,000 they will campaign against the CEO’s pay of £1million+; they will understand the pensioner living on well less than half their income; they might understand the ‘threat’ to students of leaving university with a debt of £30,000+; they might understand people not being able to afford to buy a house; they might understand that inflation for the low paid and pensioners is not 3% it is nearer 10%.

In the future the majority of MPs will tackle the problems of low-income and reduce these inequalities. The public will not only want to vote but also want to take part in the democratic process.

There is of course only one problem with all of the above. How do we bring it about? Can we really see them reducing their own salaries to the national average? Can we really see them lifting their snouts out of the trough? They have spent 3 years trying to stop the public from even seeing them eat.

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