The sensible people in Britain are sickened by how little our MPs are paid, if it was up to them, the Diane Abbott’s and Sajid Javid’s of the world would be paid £1bn each annually. We would definitely get better governance then, wouldn’t we?
Many a commentator/journalist/activist/think-tanker has called for the pay of our elected members of parliament to be higher than it currently is, £84,144 annually. Samuel Bowman formerly of the Adam Smith Institute and now Editor of Works In Progress (which is actually an interesting publication) has on multiple occasions advocated for higher salaries for MPs. As has Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes, albeit linked to performance. In an exchange between the two Bowman noted that junior cabinet ministers in Singapore earn around £600,000 annually. This is compared to around £106,000 for a junior cabinet minister in Britain. Low IQ Linekar has called for MPs to be paid more to attract the country’s ‘brilliant minds’, interestingly the only reason Gary has a career and is paid so well is because of a taxpayer-funded broadcaster, would Gary even be employed if he had to survive in a purely private media industry with that brilliant mind of his? The wonks over at UnHerd are also proponents of paying MPs more, as are the likes of Sam Ashworth-Hayes over at the Spectator and Telegraph.
Do MPs deserve to be paid more? Absolutely not. Do you reward bad employees with a pay raise? Of course you don’t, you simply get rid of them. The cost of a bad hire to a company can be damaging. The cost of 650 bad hires to an entire country, well that cost is evident. Decline is the cost.
The great British public, who are always right, agree with me, around 38% of people believe the current pay for MPs is acceptable, whilst 31% believe MPs are paid too much.
The argument for raising the pay of politicians is that they are underpaid, overworked, and that in order to attract the talent we want and need for good governance, the pay must reflect that. Hence the Pivotal Role Allowance within the civil service that was introduced in 2013 to attract and retain the best candidates at senior levels within the civil service (extra monetary incentives to hire or retain). Whether this has been a success or not is up for debate, has it substantially improved the way we are governed, I would say no.
Another argument is that the cost of raising the salaries of our politicians is basically minuscule and that even if we only received a 0.1% growth in our GDP, it would be worth it. This begins to falter however when you accept that the British ruling class doesn’t care about economic growth, they do not act in the best interests of wealth building, for individuals, families, companies etc. Take housing, it is estimated that for every 100,000 houses built in Britain that equates to an added 1% to our GDP. This paper looking at the American housing market calculates that if restrictions on housing supply and construction were lifted in only three of the most productive areas in America, American GDP would be 9% higher. There are literally ten billion pound notes just laying on the floor and our politicians refuse to pick them up. So why should they be paid more for potentially minimal improvements when they refuse to make easy and simple but dramatic improvements now?
This proposal also seems to ignore how our system works in selecting the people who govern us. There is no public application process or primary, we do not nominate MPs based on blind IQ tests, we don’t even nominate them at all. The parties nominate MPs, and when the head office doesn’t like a candidate or when they favour one candidate over another, they step in. The people have no say. All power lies within the party system. All power lies in nepotism, as is the case with Conservative MP Caroline Nokes and Labour MP Hilary Benn. Parties control candidates, not pay and certainly not the people.
This notion that you can somehow lure talent away from the private sector using pay is misguided, the public sector will never be able to compete with private sector pay, nor should it. Ideally, you want most of your talented people in the private sector, innovating, spurring progress, building wealth for themselves and their country, and competing, not stuck in the cabinet office or in parliament.
When the public sector does look to those who have enjoyed success in the private sector, such as Kate Bingham who chaired Britain’s Vaccine Taskforce, they are frustrated, restrained and eventually forced out. The CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, is not going to venture into the world of Westminster, why would he? The Chairman of Shell, Andrew Mackenzie, who is also the Chair of UK Research and Innovation, seems to have sidestepped politics by focusing on a non-departmental public body. It’s clear Mackenzie cares about his country, but he has obviously decided against going directly into politics. Jope, Mackenzie and people like them gain nothing. Even if you matched their pay they would still not take the job up, the system is fundamentally broken and attracts the worst sort of people who would and do work against them.
Paying MPs more will not fix our problems, in fact, I’d argue it would make them feel even more superior and reverent when what they actually should feel is a deep shame. The solution is simple, get rid of every single one of them. Easier said than done, I appreciate that but it can and will be accomplished. The age of entrenched nepotism and generational plutocracy combined with fake prestige and legitimacy is coming to an end. The only way to solve our predicament of low-quality MPs is a strict system of meritocracy. More to come on this soon.
For now, email your MP and tell them how they deserve a pay cut, never mind a pay rise.