I have long known that MPs received expenses on top of their wage, but I thought this meant computer equipment, stationary, and postage costs.
I would never have guessed that Members of Parliament could open up the public purse and have their gaffe done up, new bathroom, kitchen, and all the mod cons such as posh rugs, a top of the range stereo and the blender that does the lot. Empathising with MPs as fellow human beings (though zombies), I thought them too honest (to fearful of exposure, actually) to claim for such luxuries.
After all, if a police or prison officer officer, a fire-fighter or a refuse collector, a teacher or a nurse, or a member of the armed forces wanted to get a rug or a blender or have the bathroom decorated or the kitchen renovated – if one of the less affluent public servants wants things for their home they pay for these goods and services out of their wages, or else get a loan (not as easy these days, mind).
So now we know why MPs haven’t kicked up a fuss when the government tried to impose pay cuts on the rest of the public sector, why allowed the Prison Officers Association to be banned from taking strike action, why they have failed to restore workers’ rights and have allowed so-called “anti-terror” legislation to be passed which erodes other rights won over centuries of struggle.
A few principled parliamentarians exist, but for every good egg there are a dozen rotten eggs. The Westminster parties, funded mostly by big business, are filled with careerists and egomaniacs unwilling or unable to cross the party line but eager and able to cross a picket line. The ideological divisions have gone – all three are about the same in terms of policy. continued European integration, joining the US on wars, privatising public services, strengthening the secret state, and denying rights to working people.
Here’s The Socialist‘s view:
Remote MPs’ privileged lifestyle
WHILE LOW-PAID civil servants have to strike against a 0% ‘pay rise’ this year, MPs can claim up to £22,000 for kitting out their homes with luxury items.
Not content with ‘earning’ £67,000 a year, a backbench MP also claims, on average, £135,000 in allowances. They can claim £10,000 on a new kitchen, £6,000 for a bathroom and even £300 for a free-standing mirror – perhaps to reflect on their privileged lifestyle!
These latest revelations – coming on top of the recent exposé of MPs like Tory Derek Conway who claimed salaries for his two sons and a family friend, even though they did little or no work – is making an angry public even more outraged.
Socialists believe that being an MP should be an opportunity to represent people and not to feather their own nests. From 1983 to 1992 Dave Nellist, now leader of Coventry council’s Socialist Party group, was a Labour MP.
He and two other MPs supporting Militant (the Socialist Party’s predecessor) stood for parliament as a ‘workers’ MP on a worker’s wage’, receiving the average wage of the working-class people they represented and donating the rest to workers’ campaigns and working-class appeals. All expenses were legitimate, reasonable and accountable to their constituents.
That meant these MPs were not insulated from the lives and hardships of other working-class families. Other MPs, in contrast, because they benefit financially from their position, are remote from their constituents’ needs and problems.