How's the job hunt going?
The series of expenses scandals, which will be as much the hallmark of the death of this Labour administration as sleaze was for John Major, has its origins, as I said, in a disconnect between the public’s perception of what MPs are worth, and they themselves believes they ought to be paid.
£63k isn’t all that much money in certain circles – it’s roughly what a newly-qualified solicitor in a big city firm would get for example. And when you consider that the pay for bankers, CEOs and other big-wigs is now stratospheric, it’s not so very surprising that MPs want a piece of it. After all, as Jackie Ashley says in today’s column in the Guardian, many politicians are not venal, are motivated by decent feelings, and could have got better jobs elsewhere.
Wait a minute. Could they? Some could, certainly. William Hague for one will take a substantial pay cut when he becomes a minister. Ken Clarke has already taken his pay cut in anticipation. There are a few other Tories, like Alan Duncan who was an oil trader, and a string of barristers, who could be reasonably sure of making more money outside the Commons than inside.
But in Government? Jacqui Smith was a teacher. Alistair Darling was a provincial solicitor. Alan Johnson was a postman and trade union official. Gordon Brown spent a couple of years lecturing in a college of adult education. The Milibands and Balls and Coopers and Purnells and Burnhams have all spent their whole careers in wonkery. Could any of these really make more money in business than in politics? None of them has ever tried. Lets have a look in five years time, how many of the voted-out MPs have gone on to better jobs shall we?