What's going on?
As our Whitehall Editor, Oliver Wright, reported last night, MPs have said almost unanimously declared that they should be better paid. This has struck many people as outrageous; and many others (MPs included) as a reasonable response to very considerable problems. They're currently paid £65,738. On average, Tories say they deserve £96,740; Lib Dems say they deserve £78,361; and Labour MPs say they deserve £77,322. On average, MPs from others parties say they deserve £75,091.
But do MPs deserve a better salary or not?
Case for: Quality costs
If we want the best people in politics, we have to pay for it. Quality costs. Yes, £65K is much more than the average earner; but then we want much better than average workers making and scrutinising the laws of the land. The simple fact is that if we pay more, we'll get better. So why would we not want a higher calibre of politician? A marginal increase in their pay, which would amount to a tiny fraction of public spending, will help us attract and retain talent.
Case against: Out of touch
It's basically revolting that, just as they cut budgets across the country, and reduce the incomes of the poor with an attack on welfare, MPs should declare they deserve more money. How hopelessly out of touch can they get? In any case, if the Cabinet is anything to go by, a huge number of MPs are already exceptionally rich. Increasing their salaries would only increase the distance between them and those they represent. A political life is about public service, not getting rich.