Who would be a politician?

When my good friend Iain Dale decided he no longer wanted to pursue a parliamentary career I have to say that deep down I wasn’t surprised. Having stood for Parliament twice myself I know the financial (let alone personal) sacrifices that are made to fight an election.

Following the whole expenses saga I would say the whole political class has faced so much of a back lash that many capable people will just no longer want to pursue any kind of political career. Now I’m not asking for tears to be shed for the grubby expense grabbing MPs who deserve all they get, but at the same time I have seen some of the vitriol expressed towards new MPs who are actually doing their hardest to restore faith in politics.

But is it worth it? Would you be prepared to take  a pay cut to initially work for up to six weeks without office or staff. Would you then be willing to have to pay for the mere basics out of your own pocket because the new expense system seems to make it that hard to claim for things legitimately (I’m talking about staplers pens etc) that elected representatives are just buying stuff themselves.

Then when they get an office they find that it takes an age for them to get IT equipment so that they struggle to answer the hundreds of letters constituents write in , the majority of which I would suggest should really be dealt with by local councillors. But of course it gets worse. In many letters where the MP can’t really help as it may not be appropriate to intervene the correspondent feels the need to have a further dig about all MPs being on the take.

Is it that bad? Well I know of people who have worked for Members for over 2 decades who have worked weekend after weekend for no pay, who could earn more in the private sector who are finally thinking of leaving their role in Parliament working for an MP. Some may say that is just a sign that change is happening, but it is much more than that. The whole role of being a Member of Parliament seems to have been so tarnished in the eyes of the public that perhaps it has become little more than being a social worker and administrator passing constituents complaints to the relevant department. Why would you be an MP when you could be a County Councillor on a few committees and probably bring in more money for much less hassle and scrutiny?

Why would you be an MP when you could look after the Comms for the organisation that looks after MPs expenses and get paid more? Why would you be an MP when everyone things you are guilty and wants you to prove you are innocent.

Isn’t about time that we stopped slamming anyone involved in politics so that we can attempt to restore some faith in the political process?

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17 Responses to Who would be a politician?

  1. operanut1972 says:

    I agree entirely. Yes some MP's in the past have been caught with their proverbial hands 'In the Till', and that the majority did make claims within the letter of expenses framework. Is it fair to start bashing the new parliament, no it is not! We elect MP's to make the tough decisions for us, so that we can get on with daily life. It used be a privilege to be able to serve your country, we need to turn back the clocks and put some respect back into ALL of the so called Professions!

  2. ron todd says:

    Four to five times more than I earn now plus expensese, I would happily pay for a few staples.
    Enough money to live in a flat with a kitchen. And to walk round the supermarket without having to check the price of everything.

    A pension paid for by somebody else, Unregulated working hours, An office instead of a sweaty factory free travel replacing the walk to work, free jolies to exotic places instead of no holidays for ten years.

    Longer holidays than teachers (yes you always say you work very hard during the holidays, as do the teachers)

    Job security of five years replacing the constant fears of redundancy, Yes must be a bugger being a politician

    • iac says:

      Working in London until late each evening, then home at the weekend for Saturday morning constituency surgery to hear all the complaints, Saturday afternoon opening the fete (and buying loads of raffle tickets), Saturday night drawing another raffle at the Club, and Sunday morning visiting the old folks' home (buying flowers for the common room).

      But then I could really look forward to Sunday afternoon when I could spend the money I have left.

  3. Techno says:

    It is only in the last few years as things seem to have been deteriorating rather than improving that I have started to become contemptuous of politicians. It is nothing to do with the expenses affair for me. I have no problems with MPs claiming expenses as long as they are public.

    7/7 bombings – UK citizens killing other UK citizens in the name of religion.
    House prices – low paid excluded from owning property.
    New Labour passing a law that makes it legal to discriminate against men.
    Banking crisis – the politicians say there is nothing the government could have done to prevent it, so why have a government then?

    They just keep talking about "progressiveness" and "fairness" and stupid concepts like that.

  4. editor says:

    Ron. Let me answer in the way people thing they can speak to people involved in politics. They earn 4 or 5 times more than you? Oh should have worked harder to get a better job mate. See not nice is it! Plus expenses? No again wrong. The expenses you mention are legitimate business costs needed to perform the role of being the MP. You know like envelopes to write to constituents. Maybe they shouldn't bother? If its such a great job Ron….and I assume you can provide me first hand evidence about how you know this (or perhaps you are venting out of your backside) then I look forward to you standing for election. Perhaps you would care to tell everyone when and where we can look forward to seeing your name on the ballot?

  5. toryradio says:

    Aha so now its a thing against people getting paid by the taxpayer. That include nurses and teachers? Hope you have started saving to pay for your campaign.

    • ron todd says:

      Were teachers claiming expenses for vital business needs such as food no receipt required? Teachers and nurses do come under public scrutiny; MPs are at least nominally in charge of health and education (and much else) so should be open to criticism. Do they expect to have power without working to keep it.

      Buying flowers – some of them were charging that to the taxpayer. They have staff to help often a relative with you know who paying. And the backing of a party machine

      How do I know this? There was a little bit about MPs money grubbing in the Telegraph a while back, the rest of the media picked up on it.

      I am not standing, I do not feel that I need to be a politician to have the right to criticise the ones we have.

      I can complain about a bad meal without being a chef.

  6. Editor says:

    Just as I suspected. Commenting from a position of ignorance. But you feel you can slag off ALL politicians but can't be bothered to get off your backside and do anything about it yourself. They do say you get the politicians you deserve and with that apathetic attitude I think you do.

    Of course you try to backtrack on you previous comment which had implied criticism of all paid out of the public purse. Your comments suggesting no fraud in departments as big as either health or education are laughable at best, but I suppose unless it's in The Telegraph it just can't be true.

  7. Ron Todd says:

    I did not suggest that there was NO fraud in the rest of the public sector. But I would be very worried if the rest of the public sector was discovered to be as grasping as our elected politicians.

    Would you claim that for example Tony McNulty or Jaqui Smith would not have been sacked or arrested if they had been defrauding housing benefits without being a MP.

    Who exactly deserves those two.

  8. keynesianism says:

    Sorry I'm late in on this but if being an MP is such a bad job why is each vacancy contested feverishly by several candidates who themselves may have competed for the right to be the party representative?

  9. editor says:

    I will remind you of that argument when the firefighters go on strike where the same argument applies.

  10. Keynesianism says:

    The outcome of a strike by workers seeking to protect their pay and conditions is what makes the job desirable. In industries where staff have failed to do this the jobs become far less desirable and much less oversubscribed. Good pay and conditions also enables the job to attract high calibre, motivated workers instead of your stereotypical gum chewing, couldn't care less shop assistant on the NMW. Cheap is not better. Bet you don't own a Kraptui TV?

  11. toryradio says:

    Me thinks your purposefully misunderstand. You suggest being an MP must be a desirable job as there is an over supply of those willing to do it. Yet there is and has been for quite a while an over supply of peple wanting to be firemen. Indeed there was an over supply when they went on strike for better pay. Surely the laws on supply and demand that you want to apply to politicians would therefore apply to firemen. If there is an over supply of people wanting to be firemen then why is there a need for strike action at all – as it must be a supoer job with no draw backs. That after all is the analogy you have tried to apply to being a Member of Parliament.

  12. Keynesianism says:

    No I don't misunderstand. My point is that if Trade unions are successful at achieving better pay and conditions for their workers then they make that job more attractive. Excess supply should not be used as a basis for lowering the pay and conditions of workers unless you believe that people are commodities and should be treated as asuch. Good pay and conditions also save the goverment money; no need for tax credits to support low wages or means tested pension credits for workers whose jobs lacked suitable pension provision. The taxpayers are subsidising private sector employment practices on a huge scale, to the benefit of shareholders. Pity the government doesn't look into the sustainability of that!

  13. editor says:

    Oh so you weren't trying to say being a politician must be great because lots of people want to do it?

    And of course the point about more money for workers in the public sector could equally apply to politicians who last time I looked were also part of the public sector.

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