The Money Trap – Why politicians’ pay should not be attractive

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In the news this week there is much furore over the issue of MPs being awarded a potential £10,000 pay rise. This at a time of major cuts and austerity across public services in a drive to reduce the national debt.

As their current salary stands at £66,396, MPs already earn nearly £40,000 above the national average, and with a plethora of perks – such as travel expenses and an additional residence in London – it would seem that a career in politics is quite an attractive option.

Which is exactly what we don’t want.

We need the right calibre of people going in to politics, to lead the country well and to make the decisions which benefit us all. Those with noble intentions and worthy characteristics such as integrity, wisdom, diligence and a genuine concern for their constituents. Those who are more concerned with doing the right thing than obsessing over their public image or the desire to climb the political ladder. MPs who will follow their convictions rather than the party whip; who will speak their minds rather than contrived political sound bites.

Thankfully, we still have some such politicians, though I fear they are becoming a minority.

What kind of leaders will govern us from Parliament if an MP’s salary becomes around two and a half times that of a teacher? (Teacher earning approx 31k in inner London after a few years.) Unfortunately, corruption and cockiness spring to mind.

Perhaps MPs should consider drastically reducing their pay to match that of teachers and nurses – those who generally go into the profession for commendable motives, and who want to make a difference.

It seems that now would be a good time to start a major shake-up in British politics if the government is to revive any widespread trust and hope in their leadership.

Of course, MPs deserve a decent salary. But it shouldn’t draw in those merely looking to carve out a career and a name for themselves. We’re getting tired of spin and shame in politics – across all parties and persuasions. In order to restore faith in our political system, measures must be taken to ensure that the quality of candidates applying for the job matches our expectations for the role. Those seeking monetary gain or fame need not apply.

ETA: A few days on, and now we read of MPs and Cabinet ministers claiming additional expenses for their children (housing and travel).

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