Just as they cut the incomes of the poor, MPs say they deserve to be paid more. They may be right

Quality costs. It's true that people go into politics to serve the public rather than make a fortune. But to attract and retain top talent, we may have to pay a little more

Share
Fact File
  • £86,250 Average salary MPs say they deserve
  • £65,738 What MPs are paid now
  • £96,740 What Tory MPs say they deserve
  • £78,361 What Lib Dem MPs say they deserve
  • £77,322 What Labour MPs say they deserve

In December I met for coffee with an exceptionally talented young Labour MP. She has merits that most employees would salivate at: a fierce intelligence, excellent communication skills, judgement and motivation. Best of all, she has an inspirational concern for social justice and solidarity with the poor and needy.

Naturally we got talking about the prospects for her party in 2015, and I joked about her imminent challenge for the party leadership. At which point, she dropped a bombshell. She probably won’t be in parliament after the next election, she said. And certainly not after that. Why, I asked. Because the life of an MP can be utterly thankless, and she could easily earn three times the money in the private sector.

Long before the corrosive effect of the expenses scandal, our politicians have been generally held in low regard. There are many accusations against them, from vanity to venality and everything in between. The stupidest thing said about them is that they’re lazy. Well, they are not, often commuting across vast tracts of the country, doing seven-day weeks and putting their families under unbearable strain.

It’s in this context that we should examine the news that MPs have said they deserve a salary of £86,250, up from the current £65,738. Unsurprisingly, Tories had the highest estimation of their worth (£96,740), Lib Dems were second (£78,361) and Labour were third (£77,322). Other parties alighted on £75,091 between them.

Your instinctive reaction to this might be repulsion. Government, which is led by an exceptionally privileged elite, vote to cut the incomes of the poor (through welfare reform) while demanding a pay rise for themselves. And in any case, you might say, politics is about serving the public, not making a fortune. I sympathise with both those points.

But I keep thinking about that Labour MP too. I don’t want her to leave public service.

In several aspects of modern life we are breaking the connection between the consumption of valued goods and the purchase of them. Some people, like Chris Anderson, author of a marvellous book called  Free, revel in this trend. I’m afraid I can’t. I’m as guilty as you are of consuming things that I adore – daily journalism, music from iTunes, five series of The Wire – without paying for them. But quality costs. This year, I’m trying (especially on the journalism front) to pay if I can.

The same applies to MPs. There are 650 of them. If each got that increase, it would cost the public £13,332,800. This year, our government will spend £683,600,000,000. So we’re talking 0.00195 per cent, or one fifty-thousandth, of public expenditure.

Quality costs. We need brilliant MPs. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam