The Socialist 17 July 2013 |
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MPs' pay to rise to £74,000...
Many MPs have lamented how wrong it is that they're in line for another whopping pay rise of 11%, bringing their basic salaries to £74,000 a year.
And that's never mind the other jobs and business interests many of them have. But alas, they tell us, there's nothing they can do - an independent panel (Ipsa) decided that's what should happen so their hands are tied.
Well that wasn't the position of Dave Nellist, Labour Party MP in Coventry from 1983 to 1992, and member of the Socialist Party and its forerunner, Militant. A recent article on the BBC website pointed out Dave's principled stand:
Mr Nellist, now 60 and still an active member of the Socialist Party, was unemployed for the six months before he was elected, but had worked in a factory for many years.
He would only accept the average wage of a skilled factory worker in Coventry, which amounted to 46% of his salary as an MP.
...Mr Nellist said he saw his political career as being akin to that of a union rep in a factory.
"At the time, we were going into the [MP] job like a convenor in a factory, we had the time to do the job but not three times the wage or holidays," he said.
"The engineering union used to work out the returns of all the factories in Coventry and averaged their wages - equivalent to £28,000 or £29,000 nowadays - so that was what I took home."
"I accepted every penny of the full salary, but as the Labour Party we gave away roughly £35,000 [per year in today's money] to help the families of miners in the 80s, community groups, pensioners."
He dismissed the idea that the more someone is paid, the more they will achieve.
"The suggestion by [Ipsa chairman] Sir Ian Kennedy that the pay rise would be a way of keeping MPs from claiming more expenses is frankly amazing - I was almost lost for words," he said.
"It's basically saying they'll get a bung on their salary as a way of keeping them in line."
Mr Nellist believes public representatives like councillors and MPs should be able to empathise with the people affected by political decisions.
"With a 9% average fall in people's earnings, MPs should not be getting a rise - it insulates them from those day-to-day problems like food and fuel which have rocketed.
"Millions have to get by on much less [than MPs] so that is why we should pay them so they share the pain and the gain."
...while they slash benefits for the poorest
The rolling out of the Con-Dems' cruel cap on benefits has now begun.
Benefits for out-of-work families will be capped at a total of £26,000. This can mean a cut in income of hundreds of pounds a month for some.
Despite being challenged on his facts and figures, Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith continues to look gleeful at the prospect of plunging thousands into dire poverty.
Now the Con-Dems are threatening to lower the cap further and to attack benefits for teenage mothers even more.
The policy is based on making the working class pay for the bankers' crisis and the lie that those on benefits are better off than those in work.
They want to set us against each other in the hope that we don't fight them and their system.
The main reason any comparison is even possible is because the minimum wage is so low and jobs so poor and insecure that in-work poverty is sky-high.
But measly benefits are no better. And what Duncan Smith and his cronies ignore is that many of the poorest people in work have to claim benefits too.
If the cap was based on average income rather than average wages it would be £31,500 (according to the New Statesman).
The cap takes no account of how many people are in a family so those with four or more children will be particularly badly affected.
Homelessness is expected to increase by 40,000 - which will actually make the policy more expensive than the current system because councils will have to spend so much more on temporary housing. The use of foodbanks will undoubtedly sky-rocket even further.
But none of that matters to Duncan Smith, Osborne and Co. With their pay about to hit three times what the cap is, why would it?!