Houses of Parliament. Photo: Terry Ott/CC
Houses of Parliament. Photo: Terry Ott/CC

Adam Harmsworth, Coventry Socialist Party

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body that sets pay and expenses for MPs, has awarded a 5.5% increase to MPs’ salaries.

That makes MPs’ basic pay a staggering £91,346, with tens of thousands of pounds more for those on select committees, for various ministers, plus £75,440 extra for Rishi Sunak and £49,193 for Keir Starmer. That’s all before you get to expenses, all paid for by us!

Many of those MPs currently attacking the poorest workers and those on benefits are earning well over £100,000, plus incomes from businesses and property. They live on a completely different planet to workers, and the gap between them and us is getting bigger.

These careerist parliamentarians might say they have no choice but to accept the absurdly high pay put forward by IPSA as it’s supposedly an ‘independent’ pay body. But during the strike wave last year, the Tories ignored the teachers’ pay review body without hesitation when its recommendation was higher than they wanted. Pay review bodies don’t have any real independence; they are unelected panels that broadly follow the wishes of the government, and are used to try to deceive workers into thinking what is suggested by the body is reasonable.

But very few workers will believe this pay rise is deserved. IPSA chair Richard Lloyd also appeared to be on a different planet with his comment on the 5.5% rise: “Serving as an MP should not be reserved to those wealthy enough to fund it themselves… We are committed to supporting a Parliament that reflects our society, where people from all walks of life can decide to become MPs”.

This Parliament doesn’t reflect our society one bit! When workers campaigned for MPs to get a salary at the start of the 1900s, it was so the working class could be represented in Parliament with MPs who would act in their interests. A bloated salary and blank chequebook for expenses only encourages MPs to act in the interests of the wealthy and put their careers first.

That doesn’t mean there is no room for a voice for the working class in Parliament. In the 1980s, Militant (forerunner to the Socialist Party that worked in the Labour Party) terrified the establishment when three Marxist MPs were elected. Dave Nellist, Terry Fields, and Pat Wall only took home an average skilled worker’s wage and necessary expenses. The rest of their wages went to working-class causes.

In the next general election, many workers will vote Labour. But they won’t be voting for a party that wholeheartedly fights in the interests of the working class. They will see hundreds of wealthy careerists vying to lead the next government of wealthy MPs, who will try to make workers pay for capitalism’s crises.

The Socialist Party will be challenging this. We will put forward candidates as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, who will once again commit to only take a workers’ wage if elected. We also campaign for a real right of recall – for MPs to be able to be recalled at any time by those they represent so they are always accountable.

If you want to help support a working-class socialist challenge at the ballot box in the upcoming General Election, donate to the Socialist Party’s special appeal.