“It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses?” These are the infamous words of Jo Moore in her email Stephen Byers following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001. Anyone who has follows or has followed British politics is all to aware of this particular scandal, so why do I bring it up?
The answer is simple, this quote clearly illustrates that politicians and their advisers will go to any length to avoid having to publicly announce unpopular news. As can be seen from the example, it doesn’t matter if the event is a global tragedy in which around 3000 people lost their lives and over 6000 others were injured. It should come as no surprise then that today’s announcement of a pay rise for MPs in the UK Parliament was announced on a day when the following events took place:
The Conservative Party win the by-election in Copeland;
The Labour Party win the by-election in Stoke;
It was announced that Kim Jong-nam was killed by VX nerve agent;
Greater Manchester Police tasered a blind man after mistaking his cane for a gun;
Donald Trump has promised that his Mexican border wall is “ahead of schedule”; and
Claudio Ranieri spoke publicly following his sacking by Leicester City.
I acknowledge, that none of the events listed above have the gravitas of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, but this illustrates that even if an event is trifling in the grand scheme of things (e.g. the sacking of a very popular football manager) politicians and their associates will still seek to use world events to avoid a backlash.
For anyone who missed this announcement from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Agency (IPSA), MPs are to receive a 1.4% pay rise amounting to £1,049 from April this year increasing the salary of an MP to £76,011 per year. For those keeping track, this is the second pay rise for MPs following the 2015 General Election when IPSA increased the wages of MPs by 10% which increased MP wages from £67,000 to £74,000 per year.
IPSA have defended this increase by pointing out that an increase of 1.4% is below the rate of inflation which sits at 1.8% and is expected to rise towards 3%. They have also stated that this increase is in line with their aim to keep MPs wages increasing in line with public sector wage increases. On the face of it, this is very noble and strives to strike a balance between those in power and the working classes – that is until you realise that the same MPs have voted to cap public sector pay rises at 1% per year until 2020.
I don’t claim to be a mathematical genius, but when I went to school an increase of 1% per year for the five year period between 2015 and 2020 would result in a 5% increase. If, as IPSA are claiming, they aim to keep the increase of MPs pay and public sector pay the same, then you would expect MPs to have had no more than a 2% pay increase. In actual fact, the wages of MPs have already increased by 11.4% since 2015 – more than quintuple the public sector increase for the same period and that figure doesn’t include any future increases before the General Election in 2020.
Some MPs have said they won’t be accepting the pay increase or will donate the money to charity. For these MPs I ask this: if you feel so strongly about not accepting the pay rise, why haven’t you done anything to trigger a debate in Parliament about stopping the pay rise?
I’ll tell you why they haven’t. They’re all too busy sticking their snouts in the trough.
Some people may think I’m over reacting and stating the obvious with this post. Maybe so, but I’m not willing to sit by any longer and watch hard working families in my local community and across the country struggle to afford food and heat their homes while a group of individuals sit in Westminster, ignoring the people who elected them and doing nothing to earn their ludicrously high wages.
A registered nurse earns around £23,000 per year;
a paramedic earns around £25,000 per year;
a soldier earns around £27,000 per year; and
a firefighter earns around £29,000 per year.
You see these people hard at work, protecting the country and saving lives every day and they can expect to earn less than half of what your MP does.
From April, your MP will be paid £76,011 per year – and it’s an absolute disgrace.