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Time to cut MPs' pay and introduce them to reality

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

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It is beyond belief that Members of Parliament have been offered an 11 per cent pay rise, taking their basic income to £74,000, from the 2015 general election.

So much for the "tighten your belts" and "we are all in this together" maxims that politicians encourage us to observe almost daily.

This is not a recommendation of the MPs themselves, but the view of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which should know better.

I'd like to believe that MPs would not have the brass neck to accept such a scandalous award, but I would not put my life savings on this happening.

The three main party leaders are against such an increase, and Downing Street itself has issued a statement saying that the cost of politics should be going down and not up. But they all seem impotent, or perhaps unwilling, to actually do anything about it.

The truth is that the salaries of Members of Parliament should be decreased, and substantially too, and they should be encouraged, not discouraged as happens now, to take outside work completely divorced from the world of politics.

At the moment, scores of MPs have attended school and university, got themselves a job in a party research department, been hired by an MP as a PA or researcher, then have found a seat to fight to become a Member themselves. This means that a growing number of them have little or no knowledge of what goes on in the great wide world outside politics. There is even talk that an incoming Labour Government would ban outside work altogether – which would be a disaster.

If their pay was reduced drastically and they dropped a lot of the work they now undertake (which should be done by parish councillors and other local authority people) and treated being an MP as a vocation and not as a job (as it used to be), then everybody would benefit.

Some judges seem to be going mad, or totally losing their sense of justice and fair play, to the extent that vicious criminals are mollycoddled while, only too often, the victims of crime are dumped on the scrap heap.

The latest act of what seems very much like insanity concerns a Somali who was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for raping a woman at knifepoint. He threatened to kill his victim and repeatedly assaulted her, and he was recommended for deportation after completion of his sentence. But immigration judges have ruled that although he does not have a family of his own in this country, he cannot be deported because his mother and other family members live here.

Ministers feebly say that Britain has got to abide by such rulings and not break the law, but they should wake up and do their public duty. With the power they possess, they should ensure that whatever these judges say, justice should be done and such brutes should be booted out of the country – with no return ticket.

After his calamitous last Budget, George Osborne, the Chancellor, scored a big hit with his Autumn Statement last week. And his shadow Ed Balls, made a complete hash of responding to it. It looked very much as though Balls had written the entirety of his speech before Osborne had even uttered a word.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, looked none too pleased, but will he have the guts to sack Balls?

I think not. As Margaret Thatcher would have said, he is too "frit", and Balls is a tough nut. We haven't heard the last of him by a long chalk.

The Prime Minister's "official" Christmas card shows a picture of him and his wife and small daughter Florence. I don't want to be grumpy as the Christmas season approaches, but this is a glaring example of double-standards.

Downing Street has, understandably, been sending out letters to newspaper editors, saying that the faces of their children should be pixelated in any photographs used in the papers. So what does the Prime Minister do? He immediately does the opposite of what he is telling others to do.

This may sound trivial, but it is not – his left hand does not know what his right hand is doing. It is obviously important to protect his children, but he cannot accuse others of failing to do this, when he breaches his own code.

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