With large swathes of the country unemployed, welfare and benefits being cut or privatised and a growing sense of despair across the nation you wouldn't think MPs would decide to ask for a pay rise. But, of course, they have.
This isn't a rant against any particular party; the Tories are currently doing exactly as one could have predicted they would, turning poor workers against poor unemployed all whilst pulling the rug out from under both of them, Labour harp on about how they'd have done things differently despite the fact that 13 years of their government placed us in this mess and the Lib Dems have had the worst political decision making spree in history. All three have failed to actually get a grip on the situation, and yet aside from one exception most members seem to agree that their entitled to more money.
On average, Tories said their salary should be £96,740, while Lib Dems thought the right amount was £78,361 and Labour £77,322.
So to start with, the party that complains most about an entitlement culture thinks they deserve an increase of £20,000 more than the other parties are asking for. Good job for appearing contrary to the party's "rich boy" image guys! Huge portions of the country have to live on less than that amount per year and you want that as an "extra"? Even the increases demanded by members of the other parties put the income hike alone above the yearly wage of someone working as a cleaner in a school.
But, some might say, they work really hard and deserve these bonuses. In fact one MP states this very clearly:
"We frequently have to entertain people."
Really? Well you're entertaining us all right now, but mainly because we hope you're joking! I like to frequently entertain people; I quite enjoy it, but you're not talking about having some people round for spag bol, you're likely talking about meals at Jamie Oliver's or some other city centre restaurant - Wetherspoon's is right round the corner if you're feeling the pinch guys! This rather pathetic defense of why they should get a £20,000+ pay hike leads on to the more worrying underlying problem - they've confused why they have the job in the first place.
"A man or a woman who is very capable, doing well in their profession, with a family, are they going to be willing to take that paycut and look their children in the eye when it's Christmas and (say) 'you can't have what you would normally have because mummy or daddy wants to be an MP?'"
Yes! You should do exactly that! Being an MP isn't one of these modern day career choices, where you balance how much of your soul you want to sell against how much you like to buy shoes. If your children would react badly to this then they're already spoiled anyway and you'd be best giving them coal in the stocking next year, no matter how good or bad they've been.
Being an MP means you have a desire to change your country, to lead it in a positive direction and there's a certain amount of self sacrifice required to put yourself in partial control of 62 million peoples' lives. The commercialisation of Christmas is something for another rant (and one I've missed out this year) but honestly if that's how you view taking a job with a salary of over £60,000 and a place leading what we're told is one of the world's most powerful countries then you're in it for the wrong reasons.
So far it looks like, fortunately, we won't be seeing these increases any time soon. But worryingly amidst the many recent scandals and resignations we're told:
The watchdog did bow to pressure by agreeing to reopen the subject of "golden goodbyes"
Now what this means for the rest of us is that now, even if your MP is a lying scumbag who's screwed their constituents, they can hop out the door, open the golden parachute and float to freedom with a sack of cash whilst the plane crashes and burns. I'm all for giving people incentives to succeed, but this seems like the inverse - oops you made a mistake, best resign, cost us money for a re-election and then buy a yacht with your winnings. I'd like to see quite the opposite - if you resign before the end of your term, excepting on doctors' orders, you pay the salary of your replacement until the next election. Sadly we're never going to get that through (weird how MPs won't vote for that kind of measure, kind of suggests they're worried about it catching them out?) but let's not give them a financial reason to leave us drowning the next time it hits the fan.
To any MP that thinks they deserve more - if you want money for old rope then use your array of middle class contacts and get yourself a job as a consultant, so you can sell jargon and empty words to rich CEOs. The people you claim to want to lead will be better off without you.