This blog hasn't been receiving offensive comments for a while now. Perhaps my posts have not been sufficiently irritating - or the irritated have moved on to more palatable fare. Anyway, I'm probably asking for it with this post. My question is "What's a politician worth?"
Reason I ask this question is that a non-Board member of Powys County Council has taken umbrage at my expressed opinion that the salary of £11,500-ish for a backbencher is on the generous side. This particular Councillor probably works several days per week, as do some others, representing the Council on various other bodies. I can see that on the basis of hours worked by some individual councillors, its possible to make out a case for an increased salary. But I don't think this is the point.
Serving as a Councillor, an Assembly Member, an MP, or an MEP is not as other jobs. There is an element of public service involved. There is no clearly defined job or performance measurement. If the salary is going to be looked on in the same way as other jobs, should not the discipline involved in other jobs also apply, particularly productivity and performance targets. The only performance assessment that is carried out is at elections, which is often based on many factors other than performance.
How can it be that when a chunk of an MP's workload is transferred through devolution, there is no reduction in salary - or more realistically, no increase in the area represented? Can't imagine that happening in any other job.
How can it be that since County Councillors are now being paid a realistic salary, there is not a review on how many of them there should be? For example, does Powys really need over 70 Councillors, now that each of them is paid a decent and pensionable salary.
How can it be that any politicians who are paid on a full-time basis should be able to hold down another job? I support the concept of outside interests for politicians - but if the pay is full-time, should not the commitment be as well?
And that's before we get onto the super-sensitive issue of 'allowances'. Now its probably a bit too controversial for me to take a public position on this, but I can ask the questions. And before anyone casts the 'Crewe and Nantwich' stone in my direction, I accept that I own a few acres, which may influence the way I look at things (but no-one could ever call me a 'toff'). It would be interesting to hear what others think about all this.