MP pay day shows we’re not all in it together

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I know it is the easiest thing in the world to attack plans to increase the salaries of MPs yet again.

But the plan they should get a 10% rise after the general election - putting even the lowliest back-bencher on £74,000 a year - is simply preposterous.

Marcial Boo, the chief executive of the of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) says that MPs do an important job and should not be fobbed off with “a miserly amount” for their services.

For heaven’s sake, I would not have thought the current sum of around £67,000 - plus all the perks and subsidies at their disposal - is miserly. The hoary old argument that ‘if you pay them peanuts, you will get monkeys’ has been wheeled out. But it is a fallacious argument. In years gone by, would-be MPs were queuing up to get into Parliament (as they still are today) even though the pay then was minimal. The big difference was that being a Member of Parliament was seen as a vocation and not as a full-time job.

All Members should be encouraged to carry on, where possible, with their outside work, so they don’t become trapped in the Westminster bubble.

And then, MPs were encouraged to do this. Now it is the reverse, with some threats that they may be barred from outside work altogether. They now regularly adduce the argument that continuing with outside work is not possible, because they are busier at Westminster than they have ever been.

Well, that’s their own fault. Many of them are now doing work which is more suited to town councillors, even parish councillors, than to Members of Parliament.

No wonder their mailbags are splitting at the seams! Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have made clear that this increase is unacceptable, whatever Mr Boo may say. I am not a soothsayer, but I would predict there will be a huge and angry outcry from one end of the kingdom to the other if MPs win this totally undeserved award.

A leading figure in the “Yes” campaign in the Scottish independence battle speaks glibly of a “festival of democracy”.

It is typical politicians’ obfuscation. How can anything be described as democratic when millions of people, namely the inhabitants of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who will be deeply affected by the result, are not even offered a ballot paper?