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MP’s Pay: How will an 11% pay rise help Voters when we aren’t exactly getting value for money now?

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

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Would you like a pay rise? Yes? You will probably agree that most people would. But should our MP’s really be getting an 11% ‘salary’ rise in order that their wages reflect the work that they do and the level of responsibility that they have?

If MP’s were actually undertaking and carrying out a ‘job’ in it’s truest and therefore ‘functional’ sense, I think I would probably agree that they should be salaried at a higher level than they already are. But MP’s are not actually ‘doing a job’ in the sense that the IPSA Consultation which has been carried out would suggest.

It is the very fact that becoming an MP is now seen as being a ‘job’ that has facilitated the rise of the ‘career politician’ and much of the difficulty and disenfranchisement which faces voters as the result of electing people whos aim is little more than to turn up for ‘work’, promote themselves to the media or get promoted as they focus on the date of the next Election, rather than go out and give a real and meaningful voice to the people who put them there.

The Legislation which governs Elections should be the biggest clue to anyone seeking elected office that they are not applying for a job, but a serious responsibility.

The Representation of the People Act says in four simple words everything that any existing or aspiring politician needs to understand about what they are or have undertake on behalf of others. But of course party politics has created a situation where would-be politicians do indeed ‘apply’ for seats, and when they are fortunate enough to be selected for one which any of the parties can consider to be ‘safe’, they will indeed find themselves with a job for life – just as long as they do what the party wants and don’t rock the boat by doing something trivial like putting constituency matters first.

This is simply wrong. Neither politician nor their respective parties should be able or feel morally correct in treating the roles and responsibilities of politicians as a job – whatever level of Government to which the politician may have been elected.

Arguments are of course made that the remuneration for MP’s needs to be higher in order to attract those who have better knowledge, experience or indeed exposure to life to the roles. But the danger here is that a faulty and already self-serving system will just be enhanced and propagated further with even more inexperienced and unworldly applicants who lack the wherewithal and real world understanding to represent all others adequately, jumping on board the gravy train – perhaps even earlier than many of them are attempting to do so even now.

Politics should be recognised as being vocational service to others, rather than a professional and self-serving occupation. It would thereby extend a welcome to those who can best represent others by understanding, communicating and fighting to address real – rather than perceived need, whether it be at family, street, community, town, city, county, country or international level.

Very few of our politicians currently even attempt to take this approach and thereby put the people who they were Elected to represent first.  The result is openly marked by just how out-of-touch and aloof policy making has become.

Whilst pay remains both a priority and incentive for politicians, none of us will have any chance of receiving the best representation that we possibly can.

Put simply, politicians weren’t and aren’t elected to do a job. Politicians are elected to assume and carry out the responsibilities of representing and addressing need.

Nonetheless, it is just a job that most of them are doing and how will an 11% pay rise help the Electorate when we aren’t exactly getting value for money now?

Image thanks to keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk.

Councillors’ Pay: Throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

If you feel at all cynical about politicians and their motives for seeking power, you are unlikely to have been left feeling refreshed by the latest row over councillors’ pay which has surfaced this morning. After all, one set of politicians laying out the stall to put more money into the pockets of another is hardly the story that anyone outside of politics wants to hear. But is the promise of higher pay for councillors really the only answer to better local government?

The motives for becoming a politician at any level are not what many would hope or perhaps expect. Whilst the pathway to becoming a member of a local authority may be based upon an entirely different set of aspirations from those who become MP’s, the biggest difference between the two is the full-time and fully remunerated nature of all the roles in Westminster which have propagated and supported the rise of the ‘career politician’.

As a Local Councillor myself, I can look back on my own political history to date and know that it was not money which motivated me to contest my first Borough Election in 2003 and come 5th for a 2-seat Ward. It was not looking good and being seen by others as having responsibility in a public role which drove me to take part in the County Elections of 2005 and experience a recount to finish in 3rd place for a 2-seat Division. But it was a belief in something better for all and the sense of providing a voice for those who choose not or are unable to do so for themselves that did push me to go out each time and then win my first Borough Seat in 2007. Sadly it is not the same for all too many others.

The reality of local government, whether you are Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP or Independent, is that it is a place of frustration for the well-intended. A place where the power to influence decision making in its greatest sense simply doesn’t exist – much in the same way that the handful of our better-intentioned MP’s will have discovered to their absolute horror when they first arrived in Parliament.

It is a cold hard fact that within any system of government where so many of the would-be decision makers have arrived on the basis of personal gain and advancement, it is that very same emotional buy-in which propelled them there that prevents them and others from doing anything truly selfless when it has even the slightest risk of making those selfishly-based positions any less secure.

Such fear has propagated the growth of an insidious culture within local government where officers are often left leading the leaders with their own protectionist based views which put jobs, conditions and the limitation of all risks above any decision which actually may be the right one for the Taxpayers who fund them. It is a pathway which over many years has led to the unsustainable cost of direct services that should never have even been put at risk; coupled to a future which above all else is inextricably linked to such wonders as the bottomless pit which is the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Increasing councillors ‘pay’ to ‘realistic levels’, will only encourage more of those with the same self-interest to step forward and to then fight even harder to protect their own interests once elected. Part-time career politicians would quickly become as prevalent throughout the lower tiers of government as their full time counterparts are at Westminster, and it is the very term ‘career’ which in this sense says so very much about what is wrong with politics and where the true motives of many politicians lie today.

Reform at all levels of government should be an absolute priority, but should not be restricted to executive, administrative or technical functions.

The political party system is also failing people as much locally as it is nationally and throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse.

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