A rather belated post, as I’ve been just too busy recently to complete my thoughts on this issue:
I’ve been watching with interest the ongoing debate about MP pay.
I am, as I’ve said before in awe of anyone who puts themselves forward for public office, for though the few bad eggs are the one’s that make the headlines. Most of our public servants are hard working, committed individuals who have a genuine desire to serve their constituents in the best way possible in our houses of parliament.
I’ve tended to think, over the years, that MPs should be paid something comparable to the average wage, it seems incongruous that law-makers, and those with power to really effect the value of the pound we spend to be earner two or three time that of regular folk in the street.
The current debacle is a home-goal of such epic proportions it would be worthy of the Church.
That said I am fast realising that there is a lot more to the job than our tabloid journalists and editors and other opinion makers would like us to think.
We tend to think that most MPs, regardless of background or party, have a privileged life, that they have some personal fortune or corporate backing that is their security. In actual fact for the majority of public servants this just isn’t the case.
If you feel the call to public service, much like the call to full time christian ministry, there is a long road ahead of you. Years of service at a local level, within the party and in local government snatched time alongside a fulltime job and family if you have one. All before you even raise the possibility or prospect or possibly putting your name forward as a potential candidate.
When and if you do get accepted as a prospective nominee long periods of uncertainty ensue as you seek a candidacy, a move into a new area might be required and eventually if you become the prospective parliamentary candidate, several years before an election the work for really starts. Despite needing a fulltime job in order to support yourself during this time you will need a flexible understanding employer, acres of time off to handshake, visit, debate and attend every fate, fayre, public meeting or fundraiser. For years your life will be a whirlwind of canvassing, fighting local causes and friend raising. All the time unpaid for anything other than your regular employment. You will sacrifice earnings, overtime and family time. And at the end you might just get elected or you might not.
It is just possible that those that gain public office need an above average remuneration in order not to be forced to file for bankruptcy and end their political life before it begins.
I am still of the opinion that the current recommendations are a home goal for an already maligned and mistrusted profession, but let’s not pretend that public office doesn’t come with personal or financial cost. Let’s not let the few well-healed or few bad eggs fool us into thinking that all public servants are on the make.