Friday, 12 July 2013

An open letter to our overpaid, under-worked, trough-snuffling MPs

Dear MPs,
How are you? What’s it like up there? I do hope the cuckoos and clouds aren’t bothering you too much. Down here on Planet Earth things are a bit different. Everyone has less money than they used to, will be working for longer, and all our services – health, schools, roads, councils – are being cut back. It’s generally accepted that we are, in fact, on our arse.

It has now come to our attention that you have been recommended for a pay rise. Not the 1% which is the most any other public servant could expect (and most of them get nothing), but 10%. This would be offset, very slightly, by a reduction in the golden goodbyes you get when booted out of office so they are in line with what mortals receive, a downgrading of your platinum-coated pension scheme and stricter rules about free dinners. 

All this has been recommended by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority that was set up in the wake of the expenses scandal of 2009. You remember, that time when you all looked really bad.

Now, the Prime Minister says the pay rise is ‘unthinkable’, Nick Clegg says he won’t accept it, and Ed Miliband says it should be no more than 1%. Funnily enough none of them have called for a vote on the issue, or ordered their MPs to refuse it. Some MPs have insisted they should be paid more than their current £66,396, others think it’s electoral suicide, and no fucker has mentioned the fact you had a pay rise only three months ago.

As your employer, it falls to us to decide your pay. Allow me to explain our thinking:

• Your existing pay puts you in the top 3% of earners in the UK. This means 60 million people would describe it as ‘a shitload’. If ‘a shitload’ is not enough for you, you might want to try the belt-tightening you have recommended for the rest of us.

• Last month the 2:1 history graduate in charge of the nation’s purse-strings capped pay for public servants at 1%. He said automatic rises were ‘antiquated… deeply unfair… the private sector has to pay for it.’ If that applies to teachers, nurses, police officers and prison staff then it also applies to you.

• You would merit a similar 1% pay rise if you were doing a good job of steering the ship of state through choppy waters. Instead you behave like a bunch of argumentative teenaged drunks with the munchies driving a clown car through a minefield, while ignoring the 62 million people on board all screaming at you to stop.

• It is part of your role to promote democracy and uphold the rule of law. In recent weeks you have threatened to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights, which was drafted by Churchill and largely based on British law, failed to deport a hate preacher who left of his own accord after being invited to stay here by Michael Howard in 1994 (advised at the time by one David William Donald Cameron), welcomed a military coup in Egypt and shown yourselves, regardless of party, to be up for sale to whoever wants to purchase your tainted souls.

On top of this you have such a reputation for corruption and venality that only 65% of us could be bothered to not really vote for anyone at the last election.

• It is also your job to pass the laws which we, your employer, would like to see enacted. The idea of gay marriage enjoys greater public support than a single politician, yet still you argue over it. Most of us have no wish to penalise the disabled or their carers by whose devotion the nation saves, for each, £5,000-a-week in health costs, yet still you do so. Most of us want to know what Prince Charles thinks and keep a rough eye on the Queen’s spending, yet you pass laws that say we cannot.

• Everyone else who has to work after 7.30pm buys their own sandwiches. You can do the same.

• To claim that losing automatic payments of up to £65,000 is a cutback is somewhat cheeky, seeing as it is merely being cut back from ‘excessively disgusting’ to ‘standard for everyone else who loses their job’.

• Furthermore, with a pension scheme that has 29% contributions from the taxpayer compared to 14% for the rest of the public sector, it can probably stand a little trimming without losing any of its soft and privileged belly fat.

• Many of you moonlight. This is not on.

• Finally, your ‘independent’ standards body was set up by MPs, consists of people employed by MPs, and has its budget set by MPs. The MPs are in turn overseen by the Speaker of the House of Commons, who is also an MP. It is about as independent as David Cameron’s thought patterns.

All in all your performance is not what it could be, and you are subject to a personnel appraisal just once every five years. No matter how appalling you are at your job, you generally lose it only if your line manager is more unpopular than the other line managers. In short you have a fairly cushy job and to complain you might lose the associated free dinners is, frankly, insulting.

There is an argument that we would have better politicians if we paid you more. Seeing as enriching you by means of an enormous salary, generous pension and a free house has not achieved this, it is difficult to see how extra cash would help. We do however need politicians, so here are a few suggestions for your future pay and conditions which, if agreed, could bring you year-on-year salary increases.

• Sleep in a dormitory like every other public servant who has to live away from home. You expect the military, nurses, doctors and care workers to do the same; perhaps if you have to endure state housing you would ensure it wasn’t a death trap. We’d call yours The Ivory Tower.

• A salary, pension and redundancy package which is precisely the same as the national average. If you want this to improve, you will need to raise the national standard of living which is what we voted you in to do in the first place.

• Commit to a yearly public meeting with your constituents, open primaries so that anyone of merit can be selected as a party candidate without the need for financial backing from their own pockets or those of a union, and give voters the power to recall MPs when they have been disgraced. This would finally end the outrage of a politician being booted, resigning or losing the whip but clinging on to their MPs’ perks for years to protect their party from a by-election. Patrick Mercer, Tom Watson, Mike Hancock , I am looking at you.

• You would be expected to work for a rise in voter turnout, have holidays reduced to six weeks a year, take on no other employment, and spend one day a month doing community work in your constituency in order to keep your feet on the ground. Food bank, picking up litter, teaching assistant – we don’t care what, so long as you talk to actual human beings whose lives are different to yours.

Of course like every other public servant if you do not accept your employers’ pay offer you have the right to either go on strike or seek better-paid work in the private sector.

We look forward to you either manning the braziers or trying to get proper jobs. Some of you are entirely unqualified – the Chancellor used to fold towels, the Prime Minister was a PR man, Clegg used to lobby for Libya and Miliband’s never done anything else. Still, with a skill set which includes avoidance, evasion, immorality, blatant criminality, and hypocrisy there should be a role for you in the financial industry.

We hope that you see sense, and as IPSA are asking for public feedback on their suggestions through their website, Twitter and by email  you can rest assured that we will be urging them to do the same.

Otherwise, there is a strong chance of a lynch mob marching on Parliament armed to the teeth with rotten vegetables if you continue on your present course of snuffling right down to the bottom of the trough.

Yours sincerely,

Red Street Fox
Daily Mirror