The new liberalism

Is on display over here.

No MP should be allowed to have an outside job, an extra income, of any kind. No directorships, no consultantcies, just their Parliamentary wage and that\’s it.

How excellent!

So, everyone who has actually had a career outside politics is to be dissuaded from standing. Farms for example are generally organised as companies these days, so no farmer can continue to maintain a relationship with the ancestral acres and also sit in the Commons.

No one who has built a small family business can do so.

Note also that those in marginal seats cannot maintain their interests outside politics. It becomes entirely an all or nothing game: no lawyer can keep skills brushed up in the courts while they defend a 300 vote majority.

Further, you have just delivered up whatever independence an MP might have to the political party which decides whether they might continue to represent them. They can only make a living in the future by kowtowing today to the party managers.

And what is an outside income? Does writing a book count? Should that Tory MP who wrote House of Cards be thrown out for having the temerity to put pen to paper? Yes, of course Jeffrey Archer should have been but that\’s because of the words he wrote, not the action of writing.

Perhaps MPs should be denied the £150 that Question Time offers?

No extra income at all? Not even income from past savings? And how are we to distinguish from income from financial capital and accumulated human capital?

Not even, dare I say it, trade union sponsorship of MPs?

And ask yourself: do we really, really really, want MPs who have no contact with the world outside politics? Whose only experience of the systems and legislation they impose upon the rest of us is Tom Harris\’ bleatings about the fees office?

No, I think we\’ll put this down as one of those ideas that comes from the arrogance of youth, shall we? The philosopher designing a perfect world upon the blank pages of limited experience.

Now if I had my druthers I\’d be insisting that an MP prove they can in fact make a living themselves: parliamentary salaries are only paid as a percentage (up to a limit) of outside earnings….show that you can scratch £60k a year from the real economy and fair enough, we\’ll pay you that for your devotion to Parliamentary time.

11 thoughts on “The new liberalism”

  1. Naughty Tim. You not only misrepresent my position – you don’t even quote what I actually say, but attribute something else entirely.

    What I’m quite cleary taking exception to is MPs being in the pay of external bodies whilst also being MPs. That’s clearly not as wide a thing as the things you are describing here – a ban on which many are in principle unenforceable (though not all) or undesirable to try and enforce.

    So stop playing silly buggers.

  2. Ok to reply to your substantive point about experience: yes, we want people with wider experience than Westminster working as MPs. There’s nothing to stop them getting that before becoming politicians.

    If you reply that politics will attract fewer such people and more career hacks if we ban second jobs (though not *necessarily* second sources of income per se, as that’s likely to ve stupid and unenforceable), my response is to up the Parliamentary salary, as indeed it’s already out of line with the workload and responsibility vis-a-vis wider up-earning-salaries.

    If you want to say that MPs gain valuable wider world experience from having second jobs *whilst* they are MPs, I reply a) that I’m very doubtful many of the high-paying corporate add-ons add much “real world” experience useful to being and MP and that b) even if they do you need to answer my original point about *influence* and why this is less important than the alleged corporate experience on offer.

    Notice how engaging with my actual position is a much more nuanced affair than burning the straw man of your post.

  3. Perhaps MPs should be denied the £150 that Question Time offers?

    The state broadcaster pays those who chose to govern us to tell us what their party thinks? I didn’t know that.

    Yes they should be denied that payment and perhaps we should be charging them?

  4. Just to state the obvious – most jobs, or at least the ones I have had, explictly prevent you from having other jobs, consultancies etc. It’s not that strange.

  5. Being an MP shouldn’t be a career.

    But it does take up a lot of time, so it’s necessary to compensate people for that time.

    What is the financial value of someone’s time? Same as any other financial value – it’s what you could sell it for.

    So MPs should be paid compensation for loss of earnings, based on their pre-election earnings (as declared for tax purposes, averaged over 5 years, to limit fiddling).

    That would mean that no-one would be financially disadvantaged by becoming an MP, but also no-one would gain financially.

    It would also encourage them to get a bit of outside experience (to get their salary up) before standing for election.

  6. ‘Further, you have just delivered up whatever independence an MP might have to the political party which decides whether they might continue to represent them. They can only make a living in the future by kowtowing today to the party managers.’

    On the contrary, insisting MPs have no outside salary would mean that a more ‘public service’ candidate might emerge…. might.

    These would also very quickly work out that their main defense against being deselected by their party would be a close relationship with their constituency voters… a better MP in other words.

  7. Personally, I just loved his argument that ill-thought out legislation from the Commons would be dealt with lickety-split by a fully elected second chamber…

    ie that the whip system that helped make the legislation ill-thought out in the Commons in the first place will automatically make oversight of legislation better if given its full head in the lords. Just how many independents does he imagine will win seats in a fully-elected second chamber?

  8. No Tory MP wrote ‘House of Cards’.

    From what I hear the going rate for Question Time’ is three grand.

    And none of the buggers should have an outside job. I monlight when I’m at the day job, I get sacked. These people are no different, and should be held to the same standards.

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