Would Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw have been caught out in a sting apparently offering their services to a private company for cash if the salary earned by MPs’ was much higher?
> Probably. There’s no accounting for greed.
The suggestion is an unpopular one with the electorate, many of whom have endured years of pay freezes, particularly in the public sector in which the politicians are classified as working.
After the next election, an MP’s salary is set to rise 10% from £66,396 to £74,000 – the level set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) which said they did an important job and should not be paid a “miserly amount”.
When this was revealed last year it caused a bit of a meltdown inside and outside of Parliament with the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party leaders for once united.
They argued it would be wrong when public sector pay rises were capped at 1%.
Rifkind, who said the allegations made against him were “unfounded”, has subsequently said he can’t live on his £67,000 a year MP’s salary.
However Blaydon MP, Labour’s Dave Anderson, was unsympathetic. He said:
“If you can’t live on the salary get another job. You know what you sign up for.
“If you can’t live off £67,000 a year you must be from another planet.”
Mr Anderson was equally dismissive of MPs who took on second jobs to boost their income.
“If you want another job, take another job and leave. You shouldn’t have a second job as an MP regardless.
“Me and my colleagues work so many hours I don’t know how anybody who fit another job in.”
His fellow MP Nick Brown who represents Newcastle East said:
“I agree with that. Your duty is to your constituency and the country.
“I’ve been an MP for 31 years and have never had a second job.”
As for the salary of MPs he said he did not want to be “sanctimonious” and criticise anybody who thinks it should be higher. “I think an MP’s salary level should be set independently,” he said.
As for how much a fair salary would be, Mr Brown wouldn’t be drawn on a figure just that it should “cover the cost of being an MP.”
> Before exopenses claims, I imagine.
The debate about what an MP’s salary should be has been clouded by a number of scandals over the years to the extent that when a rise is suggested most in Parliament come out in public against it firmly.
But in a secret poll of MPs, the responses were different.
Back in 2013, in a survey conducted by Ipsa, MPs suggested they deserved an £86,250 salary.
On average, Tories said their salary should be £96,740, while Lib Dems thought the right amount was £78,361 and Labour £77,322. Other parties put the figure at £75,091.
However later that year, a poll of the public revealed it thought MPs should actually get a pay cut, the average figure being £54,400. In the North East, people thought they should be paid £52,140.
Arguments for the rise included one that being an MP was an important job and salaries should be more in keeping with this, comparing it to money earned by company executives. If pay was better, we would get better MPs.
> Does anyone really believe that ? What we’d really get is richer MPs.
It would also, the argument went, entice more people from less well-off backgrounds to become interested in becoming an MP.
To counter this some have wondered how a salary that is around three times the national average would put off potential less well off candidates.
According to one commentator: “To a working class kid a salary of £65,000 a year is the equivalent of winning the lottery”.
And anyway, MPs are public servants and should be subject to the same rules as anyone else in the public sector. They do an incredibly important job – but so do lots of other people, such as nurses and the police.
Political expert Dr Martin Farr of Newcastle University said:
“The public has unreasonable expectations of politicians because they just don’t like them.
> And I wonder why that should be ?
“There needs to be a competitive salary as in comparison to parliamentarians elsewhere, MPs here aren’t played a lot nor do they get the same level of support.”
“They are frightened to be awarded a competitive salary which was why they tried to make it up in allowances in the first place.
“However in trying to avoid one problem they have created another.”
He said such was the “febrile” nature of the debate, the public generally can’t even accept the need for MPs to travel first class on trains and reclaim it on expenses.
“Yet they often do work of a confidential nature at this time so these arrangements are needed,” he said.
Dr Farr said that while it appears Straw and Rifkind might have broken no rules, they were foolish to do what they did.
However he added what did need to be sorted out was the so-called ‘Whitehall revolving door’ situation where former Ministers get jobs in the private sector
“It’s a toxic issue and in some ways MPs are in a lose-lose situation,” he said.
> For that sort of money, you’d get a lot of volunteers willing to risk that kind of lose-lose situation…
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 25 Feb 2015
> No money for welfare, but always money for weapons of war…
Watch the video before reading the article. It’s from the Thatcher/Reagan era, but although the faces may change, the song remains the same.
Britain should renew its nuclear weapons programme, according to a cross-party group of MPs and experts, although it should consider whether to abandon continuous patrols.
The Trident Commission, which includes Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, and Lord Browne, the former Labour defence secretary, published its final report on Tuesday.
The group concluded the Trident nuclear system should be renewed, even though to do so could cost up to £20bn, to provide an effective deterrent to other states who might wish to threaten the UK with their own nuclear weapons.
> And these states are… who, exactly ? How are you going to nuke a terrorist organization that operates across national borders ?
But the commission also called on the government to consider relaxing its rules on providing round-the-clock deterrence, though it was split on whether the UK should do this unilaterally or in conjunction with partners.
The report said: “If there is more than a negligible chance that the possession of nuclear weapons might play a decisive future role in the defence of the United Kingdom and its allies, in preventing nuclear blackmail, or in affecting the wider security context within which the UK sits, then they should be retained.”
> This, of course, is all from the viewpoint of those who believe they have a place reserved in the bunker.
For the vast majority of us, in the event of a nuclear action we’ll all fry anyway – the idea that we might do so more happily if we knew our counterparts in the other country were also frying is horrendous, but that’s how its sold to us.
And all too often, bought by us.
The consensus from all group members, including Sir Menzies, whose party has traditionally been most hostile to renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent, is a sign of the similar conclusions reached by all three parties on the issue in the last year.
While the Conservatives have always favoured replacing the entire weapons system, along with all four submarines, the Lib Dems prevented them from making the final decision to do so during this coalition.
But following a Cabinet Office investigation into alternative options, the Lib Dems now back replacing the Trident system, albeit arguing for a reduction from four to three boats. Though this could mean abandoning uninterrupted patrols, the party argues that this would be worth doing as it would save up to £5bn in capital costs and show the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
> Lib Dems go back on profoundly held views shock ! And justify it on the grounds that spending slightly less on weapons of mass destruction amounts to showing the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
Labour has taken a position somewhere between the two, arguing that continuous deterrence must be maintained, but that it might be possible to do so with three boats rather than four if the design is sufficiently advanced.
All three parties accept that any other form of nuclear weapons system, whether based on the land, air or in less powerful submarines, would actually be more expensive than simply replacing the Trident boats. The commission endorsed that conclusion, saying: “We are opposed to proposals to develop alternative platforms and delivery systems, with new warheads, simply on the basis of possible but speculative cost savings.”
The final decision to replace Trident will be taken by 2016, barring any last-minute changes of heart by the three main parties.
> So if you’re hungry, homeless, disabled, living under threat of benefit sanctions, just be grateful that in the case of a nuclear war, you might die horribly and pointlessly, but so will your counterparts in the “enemy” state.
You’d rather that £20 billion was spent to ensure death rather than to sustain life, surely ?
Source – Financial Times 01 July 2014