It was despair and incredulity in equal measure that flooded my thought processes when I read the front page of today's Daily Telegraph. This is just one of the articles that have fed this despair and incredulity during the day. Its so outrageous that its scarcely believable. This could be the occasion to reassure the people of Montgomeryshire that I would regard £64,000 as an extremely generous salary were I to be elected an MP at the next General Election. My guess is that no more than 2% of the electors in Montgomeryshire who would have voted for me would earn as much. Personally speaking, I reckon any MP who thinks the salary should be higher would be better to go look for alternative employment.
Being an MP is not as other jobs. Remuneration is, or should be measured in satisfaction for public service as much as financial reward. If the objective is to earn money, go in search of better paid employment elsewhere - assuming you can find it. Now there is nothing wrong with young things moving straight from university to employment as political researchers as a stepping stone to a safe seat before the age of 30 - as long as there's not too many of them. And that's because the most important skill that an MP can bring to the job is good judgement, in part born of experience, rather than great cleverness or knowledge - which will always be available within the Civil Service. Also important that these youthful high flyers accept that the aim is to deliver public service at a level of pay that the people are content to pay. And the people think £64,000 per year is enough, without the need for added supplement via unjustified expenses.
The coming General Election should be different - but it is up to the voters. Candidates should be asked for cast iron promises. I've already floated some of the promises I will make on this blog. I have said that I will not make claims on the Communications Allowance - which is nothing more than a quite disgraceful incumbent's re-election pot. I have said that I will not make any claim without making it public immediately - though this is on the assumption that any employee's salary would no longer be treated as an 'expense', but be paid from a central fund as it is in the National Assembly for Wales. I've said that I will not claim for food - because I have to eat wherever I am. The reality is that the people have made it clear that they are disgusted by the 'expenses' culture that has been exposed by the Telegraph. The people will soon have the opportunity to change things - but only if they will be prepared to balance their party loyalties with the personal qualities of candidates. The voters will carry the power. Let them use it.