23 May 2009

Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries (Conservative MP for Mid Beds) said the following:
No Prime Minister has ever had the political courage to award MPs an appropriate level of pay commensurate with their experience, qualifications and position; as recommended by the SSRB, year after year.

Prior to my intake in 2005, MPs were sat down by the establishment and told that the ACA was an allowance, not an expense, it was the MP's property, in lieu of pay; and the job of the fees office was to help them claim it.

I find this quite believable. More, I genuinely sympathise. It is a reasonable explanation of what happened — MPs weren't paid as much as they and everyone around them thought they should be paid, so "the establishment" found a solution in letting them take money under the table on the additional costs allowance.

That's a perfectly good explanation to me, but that's because I don't believe in democracy. To a democrat, however, MPs are the establishment. If they are not able to pass a law giving them a higher salary, that means the electorate doesn't want them to have a higher salary. If they conspire with officals to take the extra money anyway, then they are thieves and usurpers.

So here's the situation: If we live in a democracy, then our MPs are thieves and usurpers. If we don't, then... what the hell are our MPs? Not anything good, surely.

Dorries' further point, and the reason her blog that I took the quote from exists now only on Google's cache, is that the press were in on this all along but the Telegraph decided to blow it open only now, in order to cause a sea change in British Society by getting a few more minor party candidates elected as MEPs, or something. Personally I think having sharks with laser beams attached to their heads would be a better strategy, but there you go.

The real story here is this: MPs did not believe that voters had the right to determine what they were to be paid. MPs did believe that some "establishment" consisting of party whips and civil servants did have the right to determine what MPs were to be paid. The MPs worked for this "establishment", and not for the voters. Therefore our democracy is a complete fraud. If voters can't be allowed to decide what MPs get paid, what can they be allowed to decide? If nothing, what are MPs for anyway?

The normal conclusion to draw is what I was told this afternoon by the "No2EU" party (which turns out to be an alliance of the RMT and a few minor leftist parties) — that we need to "restore" our democracy. Of course, I disagree. The voters really aren't capable of making sensible decisions, about MPs pay or anything else. The conclusion that should be drawn is that we need to abandon our democracy, and the establishment that runs the country needs to stop pretending.

But since most people still believe we should have a democracy, admitting that we don't is just asking for trouble. Is that Dorries' point? I don't think so.

On reflection, she probably believes that we have a democracy that works adequately for everything except deciding MPs' salaries. It's a possibility that didn't initially occur to me, but might make sense to MPs.


A Nonny Mouse said...

It would not surprise me, if Ryanair offered to fly me across the Atlantic for 2p, to find that I have to pay £75 for airport tax, £40 to check in, £10 use the toilet, £30 for in flight movie, etc etc, with the result that I end up paying what I would have done on PanAm.

Equally if you assemble all the builders in your home town and invite them to bid against each other to renovate your house, having put in the cheapest tender I think you can expect your builders to try and recuperate their costs by overcharging you for materials. Everything has its price and if an offer looks too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true.

Attempting to get the 600 odd most powerful people in the country to work for less than a Headmaster (who has security of tenure, which they don’t) strikes me as a no-starter. It is much better that they recoup the difference through expenses than start legislating for cash.

One point that interests me is that Julie Kirkbride is being forced to stand down because she claimed £50,000 for a home extension (an extra room) which would enable her brother to stay and occasionally mind her son. In my view the national scandal is not that a tiny number of people are able to claim such expenses, but that such costs obtain in the first place. Why does it cost (two years wages for an ordinary Joe) to build a bedroom?

MPs’ costs sound like a huge amount of money, but when translated into bricks and mortar, they don’t add up to much.

As regards the tremendous benefits of having your own deflatable currency, I note that an increase in house prices for the last month has been declared. Probably a lie or a statistic, but it does show the mentality of the cure all by devaluation school of economics. The Irish are much better off in that they cannot try this silly devaluation trick, and have to actually tackle their ridiculous housing costs caused by artificial scarcity making everything else prohibitively expensive: i.e., the real problem.

A Nonny Mouse said...

Builders do take the money directly from you, in secret, by overcharging for materials. I’m not sure that voters would not put up with higher paid MPs: the campaign against them seems to come from the Newspapers. Neither do I blame the voters for the artificial price of houses: that stems from planning laws which nobody voted for.

Personally, I think the Government would be justified in taking out some of the Newspapers, which exaggerate matters in order to sell their scandal sheets. Certainly this is a more viable option than taking out the voters.