We pay members of Parliament to solve problems, not to smear people

Politics is a strange world and I do not understand it. Somewhat naively, I had believed what politicians told me when they said that they had entered politics for public service. These days you do see many poor politicians. I suppose that you may enter a job in order to serve and get a great deal of money for it. The two things are not directly inconsistent but they are bed mates that lie uneasy together.

A member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament is entitled to be paid around £64,000 each year for his or her service. In addition he or she earns the deferred pay of a pension out of the public purse, which is simply deferred pay. I have tried to figure out their precise pension pot. The pension is not going to be affected by the vagaries of the market; it is based in their final salary, is index linked and they contribute around 11% of their pay to this gold plated pension entitlement.

They can also get an allowance for helping them buy a second home. This allowance can be sued to pay the mortgage interest on their purchase and for capital items, such as furniture utility bills and so forth.

They also can claim up to £120,000 for staffing their offices and buying equipment for their offices. They get free stationary and postage. Unlike normal people MPs also can claim the cost of travel to and from Parliament.

Of course there have been many cases of abuse of MPs’ expenses. Unlike normal people they do not have to show receipts or keep accounts. This has enabled some members of Parliament to effectively use an expense form as a means of additional income.

Of course, MPs should have proper facilities in order to do their jobs but they must be held accountable just like the people who have elected them are accountable.

Theer are also some MPs who make careers about going on very expensive “fact finding” trips, when they could learn more by staying at home, reading reports and speaking to people on the telephone or through video conferencing. These trips look surpisingly like junkets to the average voter.

So, when it comes to public service, MPs can earn plenty of money. Some of them do not fiddle their allowances, but the information that is slowly coming into the public domain indicates that a depressing proportion of them do.

Now public service is very important right now because the public service is needed now to solve some very important problems that we have.

There is a credit crunch (or perhaps more accurately a banking confidence crisis) as a result of which many people are losing their jobs and some people are losing their homes. We expect some of the Government’s time to be devoted to finding a solution to this problem that immediately affects many people.

There is a “war on terror” which is supposed to be so important that the Government are constantly curtailing our civil liberties and strangling some of our traditional rights, apparently to keep us safe in our beds from “terrorists”. We expect some of our Government’s time to be devoted to protecting us.

There is a police action (formerly a war) in Iraq, in which our soldiers are at risk, and another growing war in Afghanistan where more and more of our soldiers are based. These problems require the Government to pay time and attention, to ensure that the lives of our soldiers are not wasted and that the reason for being in these places has not become fogged in war.

There is the problem of climate change, which will affect all the people on the earth, probably sooner than we think. This is the largest long term problem which the world has ever faced and requires genuinely hard decisions and some present sacrifice for future benefit. This requires the finest minds in Government to concentrate on a solution. There can be no finer public service.

These problems are so overwhelming and so important that it is odd, to say the least, that a former Government Civil Servant, attached to the Prime Minister’s office, Mr Damian McBride, can find the time to invent false and scurrilous stories about members of an opposing political party, and publish them on a blog site which was specially set up to smear people.

The Prime Minister has been at pains to distance himself from Mr McBride’s activities, but his denials echo those of leaders who throughout history have nudged and winked others into actions on the basis that they could subsequently deny the giving of any orders or of any direct involvement.

But the real shock here is how with all the problems that the Government have, which pay them to attempt to solve, anyone should think it a good idea to smear the opposition instead of doing what we pay them to do.


Since writing this post I have seen the letter that Gordon Brown has written to the Head of the Civil Service. In it Mr Brown claims to have taken resposnibilty by accepting Mr McBrides’ resignation. Mr Brown has, for a Prime Minister, an odd concept of how he should take responsibilty – getting others to resign. Either Mr Brown is responsible for comissioning the smear campaign, in which case he should resign.

Mr Brown has already said he knew nothing about the proposal to smeear his political opponents. What is he taking responsibility for then? It must be that Mr Brown is accepting responsibility for the ethos and the culture that led a senior civil servant to believe that smears were acceptable to his boss. There is nothing else to take responsibility for, is there?

4 Responses

  1. Gordon Brown never actually elected as prime minister will now maybe resign and await his coronation as president of the USE (United States of Europe) the job that Tony Blair is lining himself up for first ! He wil be padded for the rest of his life with a big index linked prime ministers pension. Then he can go on a lecture tour extolling the virtues of a panacea ecconomy that doesn’t cycle through boom and bust in his non existent dream ecconomic utopia fantasy that he deludes himself he can create, once the birth pangs of a new world order are completed (I quote his own words) ! ! !

    I think it may be possible that Gordon Brow may actually believe he is destined to be the World president or King of the whole world one day ! ! !

  2. Robert,even the video conferencing that you mentionjust gets people p*ssed off ! The newspapers are writing stories about quango chiefs and council heads of department on £150K a year sunning themselves living in southern europe and using video-conferencing to communicate to rest of the council back in the UK !

    I mean if these MPs had video conferncing services they would use that so they could spend more time out of the country they would use it to communicate their dictats back to the footsoldiers back in the UK ! Excellent idea ! Hear Hear…..

    Actually video conferencing can be used to get things done expediently with much less pollution and expense, but its just that its not as enjoyable as a holiday is it ! ?

  3. Robert, I think the smars were predominantly about the conservative MP Nadine Dorries http://blog.dorries.org/blog.aspx really Robert the entries in her blog are pathetic and daft and of no real consequence to solving the problems we have in society, the environment, education, health, ecconomy etc etc its just really daft stuff, I really wouldn’t bother to read that. In comparison your own Blog is informative and proffessional it seems that political blogosphere is more to do with celebrity than substance.

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