Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Who Would Want to be an MP?

I'm just about to do the Simon Mayo programme on 5 Live from 3 to 4pm, taking part in a discussion on Who Would Want to be an MP. LibDem MP Jo Swinson, former Labour MP Chris Leslie and Labour candidate Chuka Umana will be on too.

I've always gone from the standpoint that only a very small minority of people go into politics for the wrong reasons, but increasingly I wonder why any sane person puts themselves through it. And that includes me!

I haven't got a clue what I am going to say during the hour, so it should be fun!

26 comments:

Stu said...

I was being encouraged by a friend to consider the idea of trying a life in politics and I just couldn't see the upside. It seems like you have to do so much brown-nosing and so much jumping through hoops that you end up fundamentally compromised before you even get to start doing good in the world.

Plus, you pretty much have to have lived your entire life in the most squeaky-clean manner, basing every childhood decision on the possibility that one day you might want to move into politics.

Not for me.

About to listen to your show, hope it's good! :-)

Mr Richard Nixon said...

I think Yes Minister got it about right. They said something like "there are no qualifications required, no minimum working hours..." etc. Silly holidays, no local knowledge of candidates. There is no selection at all. 80% of seats almost never change parties(a monkey with the right coloured rosette would carry them). Selection panels are a joke. 30 old women in silly hats or 30 old men in raincoats. The average party member knows less about politics than the average BB contestant. The winning party at election gets just over 300 seats. 100MPs are too old, 100 are too young, so that leaves about a hundred Government jobs for the rest. What a joke. And we need 660 of the f***ers to prove they are useless, all on ludicrous expenses(ie me paying for Broon's Sky TV).

I would go back to the old days. Don't pay them. That way we get rich toffs doing it for a hobby. It worked before didn't it?

Anonymous said...

I would to be honest, idealistically because I love my country and want to help the people have better lives.

It's gonna be hell, no doubt, but one can't help but look forward to it :)

Anonymous said...

As I have heard someone else say somewhere else: politics is Hollywood for ugly people.

John said...

Just tell them you are a megalomaniac.

idle said...

I'd do it tomorrow, but only as a loose canon, which probably excludes any possibility.

And I would aim to keep my current job, but at half rates. Most people couldn't entertain such an possibility.

Danvers said...

It is not a question of people going into politics for the wrong reasons, it is whether the right people are put off from going into politics - for whatever reason.

tim said...

Chuka Umana you mean.

BillyBoy said...

@danvers

Good point well made.

Casual Observer said...

I would, under the present and likely salary, perks and expenses rules. Seems like a wonderful job to me. Get paid loads of money for doing not a lot with the promise of thye best pension package on the planet. Yes I would, oh wouldn't I just...

Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

Freeloaders, parasites, and clowns?

Most legislation now comes from Brussels and the HoP just rubber-stamps it, with no actual say on what's in it. So any fool can be an "effective" MP. No skills are required.

We need perhaps 75 to 100 MPs in total, representing English constituencies only because foreign countries within the UK already have their own Parliaments.

Routine constituency stuff should be handled by a central staff function, composed of people who've got their jobs on merit and not just because Daddy is an MP.

MPs should be paid 3x the national average or 2x the London average, whichever is the lower. They can stay in a mid-range hotel when in town and all expenses above £10, including petrol, should be submitted within 3 months and with a receipt otherwise it's no way Jose. No alcohol chould be claimable.

An independent audit body should review their expenses, rejecting any fraudulent claims and bringing the appropriate criminal charges. MPs should give a charge on their main residence to the state, so that any fines and fraud repayments they are required to make can be funded, if need be, by the forced sale of their home.

For most people (the average Brit earns about £24k AIUI), this would still be a life of fabulous prestige and opulence. To the tapeworm in the HoP now it will be a big step down, which should in turn result in a big step up in the quality of MP as they all quit.

Anonymous said...

Seems you have a very high opinion of politicians, Iain. Why do they put themselves through the ringer of a £61k basic, up to £200k expenses and the BEST pension scheme in the country?

Life's such a b***h!

Break Up the Biased BBC said...

Typical BBC line up then; a LibDem MP, 2 Labourites and just the one Tory ex candidate, even if it is your good self.

niconoclast said...

One of the guests said at the end "anyone can be an MP". Boy is that the truth!

javelin said...

Putting that man hating harpie Harman in charge of anything is like putting Hendrik Verwoerd in charge of race relations.

Anonymous said...

Being an MPs requires no qualifications or special talent, and the pay is far, far in excess of what most people earn, so yes, I expect many people would want to be an MP.

Being a government minister is another matter: that does require ability. So fewer people would want to put themselves forward for that job. But the pay is higher.

Norfolk Blogger said...

For nearly 20 years I always thought it was what I wanted to do. Then after getting married and with my son arriving a year later, I realised that I just didn't want to do it and there are more important things in life than spending 4-5 days a week in London and the rest of my time out campaigning, etc.

Adrian said...

I wish politicians would stop telling us their payment system is fair (or too mean) and that the only problem is one of "perception". There are **real** problems with the way MPs are paid and MPs are only digging themselves into an even bigger hole by pretending otherwise and patronising the voting public. There's all those (over-generous) rules which they can't seem to help breaking, too many loopholes, and too much self-oversight (and self-pity)... WUASTC!

Glyn H said...

One reason would be able to stand up in the Commons and say, as Mr Fabricant did yesterday; 'to stand on the platform and as a High Speed train goes by you get sucked off'.

angelneptunestar said...

Being a politician is my idea of absolute HELL. David Aaronovitch wrote an article in the Times yesterday about the witch hunts that go on to bring people down and how this is damaging our society. THIS IS SO TRUE. It is an absolute disgrace how people are targeted and brought down by people whose sole job in life seems to be digging up dirt and slinging it to wreck what others are trying to achieve. They are trying to do it to Boris Johnson's mayoralty. How can these people live with themselves?

It is wrecking our society and I pity politicians who have to deal with this from the bottom of my heart.

Blue Eyes said...

To answer your question Iain:

In general: lots of people, hence contested selection battles and elections themselves.

In particular: Kerry McCarthy!

But seriously, do you think that, say, doubling MPs salary would get us better MPs or just richer ones?

If anything the standard of our leaders have collapsed since the days when only the rich could afford to be in politics.

John M Ward said...

Danvers and Angelneptune star are both correct. I have seen too much to want to go back, at least under the present Government.

After eight years as a councillor, with all the changes imposed from without that made our job next to impossible and bogged-down in red tape and suchlike, I was actually quite relieved to get out, after a media "hatchet job" on me.

I can well imagine that a not entirely dissimilar situation exists in Parliament because of the dominance of (once again) external control -- from Brussels in this case.

What would be a good start toward attracting the decent and talented folk into (or, in some cases, back into) politics would be to dismantle the "outside dictatorship" structure we have today, and for all elected bodies to have well-defined (and logical) remits that none other can touch or interfere with.

Yes, checks and monitoring would be required -- that doesn't change -- but no other elected or non-elected (in the manner of quangos, for example) body can overrule a decision made on behalf of one's own electorate.

That change would go a fair way toward making it worthwhile for someone with honesty, integrity and with a strong will to represent his or her (potential) electorate's wishes to actually stand -- especially at local level.

There's plenty more that could and should be done, but that'll do for starters.

niconoclast said...

Politicians are the lowest form of social pathology.To call them parasites is to insult the latter.They are predatory,amoral,sociopathic,coruptnonproductive.Politics is just a form of organised crime.(Worse.At least criminals don't pretend they are performing a service to the community.)

Streathamite said...

The Labour candidate on with Iain yesterday is actually Chuka Umunna, and if "anonymous" wants to check out his Streatham Labour Party website, it will disprove his assertion that "politics is Hollywood for ugly people"

I thought that all those on the programme actually had very good reasons for wanting to be an MP. Hopefully more of this sort of programme might help overcome cynicism among the public.

Anonymous said...

Re. John M Ward's post, local government would benefit enormously from abolition of the Cabinet system, and a return to the old committee system. The old system allowed every councillor to have a say in the running of the council.

John M Ward said...

I'd agree with the preceding anonymous comment as far as saying that the option for dumping the Cabinet system should be offered. I don't want outsiders dictating to local government what it should or should not do in this kind of matter.

We had it forced on us, but have settled into it well. Personally, I'd be very happy to see it go, though I am not sure that all our local councillors would (and I'm no longer one of them anyway, so my view would count for little!)

Interestingly, it's the Labour members (whose own party in national government inflicted the Cabinet set-up on us) who are most against it.

Then again, they are in terminal decline, shrinking at every election here, and now down to just 13 of the 55 members., so they don't have all that great an influence either...