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.
Labels: anti-democracy, expenses