Second Jobs for MPs – The Troughers Win Again

by Charlie_East_West on February 26, 2015

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Snouts in the trough again.

After the cash for access scandal where Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw have both been caught out trying to grubbily prostitute themselves as political consultant guns for hire, Ed Miliband seized the initiative. Labour called a Commons motion for a ban on MPs holding paid directorships or consultancies – arguing that the move was necessary to “restore public trust” in politics following a cash for access scandal.

The Labour motion was defeated in the Commons. Yet again, the Lib Dems propped up the Tories.

Numerous politicians have tried to justify their double income existence. Rifkind promptly ended his glittering political career by stating that it was “unreasonable” to expect an MP to live on £67,000 a year; Tory millionaire MP Adam Afriyie told Newsnight on Monday: “You can’t expect an MP to scrabble around on a salary of £67,000.”

Tory MP Alan Duncan argued that the move was aimed at excluding Conservatives from politics as they were more likely to sit on company boards or hold other business roles. Duncan warned that Parliament could end up being filled with full-time career politicians, under Labour’s plan. He stated, “We’re in danger of becoming a low-achieving, sparring sort of shallow chamber where there is insufficient experience to address the big issues of the day.”

Tory MP, Philip Lee, during yesterday’s Commons second jobs debate, stated ‘The best people get paid a bit more”. Quite. So why are NHS staff and fire fighters having their pay frozen then?

Meanwhile, another Tory MP, Andrew Rosindell, suggested that Labour’s Rachel Reeves shouldn’t be allowed to go on maternity leave if she is a member of the cabinet after the election. So we have a scenario where second jobs are justifiable, but maternity leave is persona non grata.

The conceit and arrogance of these comments is astounding, even by the high self aggrandising standards of an MP. They live in a bubble of privilege, and completely fail to recognise that by most people’s standards, their salary of £67,000 is a hell of a lot of money.

The salary of an MP puts them in the top 7% of earners in the country. When combined with expenses and the opportunity to top their incomes with second jobs, it puts them in a rarified position of income privilege.

Of course, the Tories were howling at the moon at the prospect of losing a double income. According to the BBC, the Tories have at least 80 MPs declaring second jobs. The SNP have none. This tells us a lot about the current levels of moral integrity within both political parties.

MPs earn a reported £7.4m from outside work. This is a staggeringly high figure of greed and a worryingly high amount of money spent towards MPs spending time on other jobs rather than representing their constituents. After MPs voted to maintain their second jobs, yet again the public will just look at politicians and think that they are more concerned about feathering their own nests rather than looking after the interests of their constituents on a full time basis.

The grubbily selfish behaviour of many MPs has been accutely highlighted over the past decade:- cash for assess/cash for questions/expenses scandal. Is it any wonder that we do not trust the motives of our politicians? They are first and foremost, public servants. They are paid by us to serve for us. As such, they should always remember that they are accountable to us, and should not be tarting themsleves around to look for additional incomes that will inevitably raise questions over conflict of interests, greed and integrity.

Working as an MP is a full time job. The general insinuation from many Tories is that being an MP is simply a part time job that is a career dabble. The other insinuation is that MPs think they are financially hard done by as they see themselves as a cut above everyone else.

Here is a list of the MPs who voted to protect their second jobs. Hopefully many of them will lose one of their jobs in May.

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