Friday, 15 May 2009

Hello Again

To my devoted readers it has been a long time away. But where are we now? The credit crunch has crunched, green shoots are wilting because the seed fell on rocks and the mother of all parliaments has imploded. Not much happening out there then? I take the view that the current scandal submerging our elected representatives is, to use that Dickensian term, humbug. The agenda of the Daily Torygraph is that it wants to do maximum damage to the established parties to give a free run to its preferred candidates from the Chingford Liberation Front and the Basildon Independence Party. Bringing down Gordon, giving David (of the self-basting hairstyle) a smack in the eye and humiliating the irrelevant Clegg is excellent return on £100K of chequebook journalism.

The problem we now face is that no one in their right mind would want to become an MP. Its a rubbish job, long hours, whinging constituents, hours travelling, mindless committees, less pay than a junior GP and now the media trampling over their private affairs. We get what we pay for and when mad Maggie decided to give a £20K housing allowance as part of the compensation package this particular scandal was primed and ready to go off. There is a difference between an allowance and expenses - the only nonsense was in demanding receipts (presumably to keep it tax free). Far better to pass it through as a tax free 2nd homes allowance which every one who takes the job is entitled to and leave it at that. How MP's must envy our university Vice Chancellors - they get a 2nd home thrown in with the job, all expenses on the university and with a compliant University Council can award themselves eye-watering salary increases. Now that's what I call a real scandal.


ike said...

interesting post, it seems your view leans toward giving out more to the people who run the country?

what do you think about the country where their ministers are paid in millions of dollars? i meant Singapore.

Professor Bob Ryan said...

A good question Ike. I take the view that our politicians are badly underpaid for the job they do. THey should get a decent salary and any necessary expenses dealt with fairly under the sort of regime you or I would regard as sensible in the private sector. In the private sector most big firms, if a second home is a necessary part of the job, make sure that the employee is compensated for the costs of that home.
The probelm we got into is that Margaret Thatcher, who was married to the multimillionnaire Dennis, did not need her parliamentary salary and saw a 'hairshirt' advantage in refusing to take increases. When she became PM she quite cynically held back MP's salaries but when the pressure became too great and a large raise was needed gave the 2nd home allowance (of £20000 a year. It was expected that all MP's would claim it in some way or other. The fees office at the House of Commons waved through anything that looked 2nd home related. Disaster was primed with the passing of the Freedom of Information Act and the pressjure grew for MP's expenses to be put into the public domain and they be held to account. The bomb was primed, and those custodians of our moral virtue - journalists - had a field day. I think the system needed to be sorted out but the media fuss and the sanctimony of some politicians were to my mind complete and absolute humbug.