Friday, May 30, 2008

That's Rich of Geoff Hoon

When discussing MPs pay and expenses last night Geoff Hoon said on Question Time: “I am not rich…", which is interesting seeing as he earns more than £135,000 a year and was a barrister before entering Parliament. I have no problem with that at all, but to suggest that he wears a hairshirt, or ever did, is stretching it a bit.

This does beg a question: when do you become rich? Is it when your net assets are worth above a certain amount, or do people judge 'richness' on annual income?

Or have we reached a point where the concepts of richness and poverty have all become relative - a bit like left and right? Discuss.


Anonymous said...

You're rich if you can afford to vote Labour.

Anonymous said...

rich is when you earn more then most of the rest of the people in the room...

Man in a Shed said...

Slightly off subject, but can someone explain where Nick Clegg got his money from ?

Shaun said...

I do fear its all a bit relative; as you acclimatise to higher incomes and ll that can bring, the tougher it is to scale down.

I got diagnosed with MS and, as a web developer went freelance and now find myself earning 2.5x what I did as a salaryman for exactly the same work. I can't explain it but am happy to accept it. I recently had to have a 'but what should I do with my money conversation' which was odd and, relatively, made me *feel* rich. Compared to Bill Gates, tho, I'm begging for change in the gutter.

So, is it relative or is it just a meaningless word almost inevitably desinged to elicit feelings of discomfort and jealousy without imparting any demonstrable meaning?

Anonymous said...

I would say the following:

You are rich if you have an income of over £1m a year.

Anyone earning £200k - £1m is well off.

Anyone between £75k and 200k is comfortable, just.

Anyone between £30k - 75k is averagely middle class.

Less than £30k is poor.

Anonymous said...

BuffHoon strikes again...

To answer your question, Iain, I guess that to be considered properly rich, you would need to be worth £5 million or so. But, I agree that it is a bit rich for for a long time government minister and ex barrister to claim not to be rich.

Yet again, Buff proves himself to be hopelessly out of touch. I can't imagine how I could ever find a useful job so him...

Unsworth said...

Much worse - Hoon then started talking about his parents and his family background as if that reflected his current circumstances.

Why does this deceptive idiot think we're fooled by his comments about his childhood as being indicative of the current state of his bank account? Does Bill Gates think that way?

Anonymous said...

well Iain, the point he was making (which for once I agree with) is that unless you are genuinely rich (ie Cameron or Osborne rich) you will not be able to afford to buy and run a home in Westminster and another in your constituency. I think the points he put were well made. I for one have no problem with MPs allowances. If you want our legislators to be paupers and the prime minister to fly easyjet fine, but I think it refelects badly on the standing of our country and our parliament.

I do not see any reason though that expenses should not be properly accounted for and scrutinised and those who abuse them (I'm afraid like your chum derek conway) should be expelled from parliament. I am worried however about the media witchhunt currently going on-I really dont care whether Blair paid his bills on time, for example.

Anonymous said...

Whether a politician is rich or not, rather depends on what the voters think 'rich' means. May I suggest that a very large majority of Labour voters would believe £135,000 per year is rich beyond imagination? Especially when most people assume that the perks are at least equal to the gross wage.

Conservative voter have a different problem as they dont generally believe £135,000 is exactly rich, but still vastly overpaid, as it is they that are generally paying the wage out of their pockets.


The least ALL MPs talk about their own wages and perks the better for them. Hoon is obviously either callous, ignorant or stupid, and completely out of touch with the common man. In other words, 'par for the course,' when it comes to modern day political elites.


Iain Dale said...

Mens Sana, and I agree with the point he was making. I just thought it was a bit odd for him to portray himself as being anything other than what most people would consider rich.

Anonymous said...

I think he also justified the second home in London on having to stay in Parliament until after 10 o'clock a couple of nights a week.

Is he actually in Parliament that much?

Couldn't they be just given a hotel room when it is necessary to work late, though I suppose they would want a 5 star one?

Anonymous said...

I am a pensioner in good health, I have a happy marriage, two dear children and two healthy young grandchildren. I also have a small circle of loving friends.

That is my definition of being 'rich'.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the audience was impressed. See the QT comments! TCH rides again

Anonymous said...

>Hoon is obviously either callous, ignorant or stupid, and completely out of touch with the common man.<
No need for "either" and "or"

(Bloody hell Iain, can you limit these captchas to say five?)

Anonymous said...

i would say that you can consider yourself rich when you possess everything you could need, and can also live well within your means.

Anonymous said...

He's rich, I'm damned sure of that. I'll consider myself rich if I'm earning £25,000 a year and able to put some money away in the bank.

Anonymous said...

And now for the £500,000 question:

Is Iain Dale rich?

You can:

Ask a friend,
Ask the audience,
Mind your own business.

And NOW for a million pounds:

How many Iain Dales can you get through the eye of a darning needle?

Anonymous said...

i strongly disagree with hitchy saying: 'Less than £30k is poor.',

i earn a lot less than that, yet i own my own home and have a car. neither are very big, but they're nice, and perfectly adequate for me.

my income is enough to ensure i don't really have to worry about bills or where money for food is going to come from. i don't consider myself rich or ever well off, but i'm certainly not poor.

see my definition of poor in my previous post.

makes me wonder how much hitchy earns, to believe that people under £30k are all poor....

Anonymous said...

Here's how Marx defined poverty:

"A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence.

But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain."

UK average pay pa 2007: c £23,000

Geoff Hoon's pay: £80,000 +

Geoff Hoon's expenses 2006/7:

Additional Costs Allowance £21,995

London Supplement £0

Incidental Expenses £27,837

Staffing Allowance £63,876

Members' Travel £6,297

Members' Staff Travel £0

Centrally Purchased Stationery

Stationery: Associated Postage Costs £2,050

Centrally Provided Computer Equipment £1,248

Other Costs £0 £0 £0 £0 £0 £0

Total £123,834

Dennis Skinner total: £67,891

Philip Hollobone total: £44,551

Looks to me as though grasping Hoon's nabbed the palace for himself.

Anonymous said...

You cannot stretch a hairshirt ...

kinglear said...

A man is rich when he is content.

Anonymous said...

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness... Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

Anonymous said...

For lovers of, 'Freedom for the Individual' here's the latest, on those who wish to defy the Boris ban.

Over 8,000 and rising!!

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

In the 1930's my grandfather, a wealthy land-owner, lived in the country, had a car and could park directly outside the shop in the high street of our local town.

You would need to be able to afford a chauffeur to do that now, yet in all other regards I and ALL the other residents of the town are wealthier than my grandfather was then.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

rich is when you turn your shirt collar up

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

These days wealth buys you just three things:
space, brands and technology 18 months ahead of the curve.

Poverty (in the UK) is caused by 1 thing:
(to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, fame or believing that there is an "inside track")

- this is why we don't need the Labour party anymore.

Everyone else is stuck in a very large "middle" class.

Tapestry said...

Someone who says they are not rich, who is healthy, who has food on the table every day and a home to go to, is merely ignorant of the condition of most people living in the world.

The cap fits.

Tapestry said...

As for the drunkards on the tube, get a life.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion liberal hand-wringers are selling us short because they are foreign nad its what they do,, Two words: ban them all,,, We need less emotiona nd more backbone in this country!!

Anonymous said...

Jamie - you're probably right. if you live outside of London and the SE, that is.

I don't earn a huge sum (5 figures) but I struggle to live acceptably in London.

However, my reference point of 'acceptability' is my middle-class childhood in urban Scotland - a 4-bed house in a leafy suburb and plenty of green space. Both of which are impossible in London or the Home Counties on anything south of 300k I would argue.

Costs in London are obscene - other than food and clothing, most of my costs (rent, car insurance, public transport) are double or more than the equivalent in the large provincial cities (Manchester, Glasgow etc).

Anonymous said...

Due to the housing downturn (allegedly) a member of my family in the building trade has had his wage reduced by £150 per week. He has just had to undergo belt tightening of his income, modest by Hoon standards. My points about mismanagement of the economy and greed by Labour are going home and I know where the vote is going......

Anonymous said...

Not related to your post but to last night's QT in general:

Can we please stop referring to "MP's expenses" - they are not expenses, they are gifts!

If you're an MP you can *buy* a second home and have the taxpayer take care of the mortgage for you. That is not an "expense", it is a GIFT.

Working for a private company, I can claim expenses if I need to travel or stay in hotels - that is not to say I get to buy a house, keep it, and then sell it once I retire!


Shaun said...

"(Bloody hell Iain, can you limit these captchas to say five?)" - Anon, 10:39 pm

I wouldn't. You need to keep an eye out for something better - Russian hackers have beaten captcha now at a 35% accuracy (see so a bit of brute force and your comments can be full of ads for viagra. Actually thinking of the readership...

Seriously, tho, the captcha thing (beating as it does a simple Turing test) has set several IT nerds alight with spasms of panic. Keep it as secure as you can!

Anonymous said...

Felix Dennis (a very wealthy man who is also a prety good writer) is very good on what is wealthy. Hoon is very well paid, but he is not a wealthy man. Being paid a wage will never make you wealthy. It may make you comfortable. Managing to take a lot of your pay tax free - as are MP allowances - will also make you much better paid as tax is one of the biggest barriers to a comfortable living. Just to put this intoi perspective if your net value is about 650,000 then you will be in th top 8% by wealth of the UK population. And not that the average deposit in UK savings institutions is (I think) about £2,000. But most people have no cash savings at all.

Perhaps the question should be is remuneration of £140K appropriate for an MP and is Hoon worth it?

Let me make the case for lower MP pay. MP's should be in parliament for a sense of service and duty. They should not need to be a lot of money. They would, if required for less wealthy MP's hoping to represent voters, seek sponsorship from institutions like unions. Or those seeking to represent other voters could do likewise from other sources. At the same time their legitimate expenses as MP's should be met by the State. I know that this is unfashionable but serving in parliamnent should be a privilidge, not a profession. It should not of itself be a career aim. The reason I believe this is that the current situation encourages a self interested attitude amongst MP's to the detriment of the institution and independence of mind of parlimentarians.

(Ducks behind parapet and waits for incoming)

Anonymous said...

Rich is when you can genuinely afford to be a socialist.
This country is no longer rich.

Unsworth said...

@ Mens Sana

"unless you are genuinely rich (ie Cameron or Osborne rich)"

Is that i.e. or e.g.? Care to add Sainsbury into your comment or are your 'examples' only Conservative MPs? I wonder why that might be.

And "your chum derek conway" - could this possibly be yet another example of cretinous lefty bias?

Mens Sana indeed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous@12:14 - I think you're concerning "rich" with "poncy".

Raedwald said...

Mens Sana 10.19 said
"If you want our legislators to be paupers and the prime minister to fly easyjet fine, but I think it reflects badly on the standing of our country and our parliament."

If you're someone who's seduced by the allure of conspicuous consumption, this is true. The Nigerian village girls here in south London are all dragging their yams home from the market in Vuitton shoppers, and an Hermes holster and an Audi are now obligatory street bling for your average Peckham crack dealer. They surely understand why bullet proof jags and first class air travel or private jets equate with 'standing'.

But watching old newsreels of ministers arriving at No.10 in black cabs, and MPs travelling into work on the No 11 bus or the suburban stopping train makes me reflect that our politicos used to display much more class.

Curious that when a third of the world was pink on the map, the Foreign Secretary was quite happy with a Hackney cab but now requires a cavalcade complete with south American style outriders.

Anonymous said...

To be serious for a moment, we all live in Beverly Hills type luxury compared to many unfortunate individuals in this world.
Are you rich if you have an electric light bulb that works and a clean water supply?

Anonymous said...

Deliberate Labour Lie? I was (half) watching the news this morning when an item came on about 4 Police areas (authoritys?) holding a trial to reduce the use of pursuing petty crimes to satisfy targets!It really was worded very similarly to that.Yesterday Labour refuted suggestions that Police were doing just this!Depending on how the scheme is worded it may be possible to prove a cast-iron lie here.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that "rich" - as opposed to being in a high paid job - was about having riches - and thus (i) not being dependant on work and (ii) while not working, being able to afford a lifestyle that those who have to work would regarded with envy.

I've not much time for Hoon but having worked with Cabinet Ministers (Tory and Labour) I've never envied them their jobs or their earnings.

Anonymous said...

Hoon - the definition of all that is bad about Nu Labour.

He kept a low profile while he sold off our defence assets, and an even lowerer profile when Iraq came about. No troop protective gear? - Ask Geoff - he knows all about it.

Anonymous said...

Michael Winner said that to lead a millionaire's life style you neeeded to own your home(s) outright plus have at least 3.5 million in the bank. One of those Aitken girls said something about needing to have at least 8 figures.

Nulab MPs are not worth peeing on.

Steve_Roberts said...

I think you will find the definition of 'rich' flexes upwards the more wealth you have.

For me, a reasonable definition for the threshold of 'rich' is that your assets, if invested for income, would produce enough for you to live on, ie you don't have to work in order to have the basics - food, housing, clothing etc. Even this definition depends on what you view as 'basic' - flat in chelsea / terrace in Newcastle - but if you suppose median earnings should cover the basics, you need £27k, index-linked, which means roughly £ 800k capital. I would suggest, therefore, if your net asset value is lss than £800k, you cannot be described as rich; if it is between £800k and £2.5m, it is in the grey, matter-of-opinion area, and £2.5m + you really are rich, even if it doesn't feel like it to you.

PS earnings do not equate to riches, plenty of high earners are in the habit of spending 100% of their income and will never be rich enough to quit working for a living.

Anonymous said...

Salary plus perks and expenses means that he is taking at least x8 average earnings. So its a bit rich for him to say that he is not wealthy.
Hoon no doubt has 2 houses when many have none.
Hoon has a gold plated non-contributory pension plan when many do not.
Hoon has access to a veritable cornucopia of subsidised bars and restaurants at work, which many do not.
Hoon has access to an expense's regime that requires no receipts, which others would find to be disallowed or in court charged with fraud by the Inland Revenue.
Hoon works in an environment where deceit, mendacity and corruption thrives, such an enterprise in the private sector would be closed.

Methinks he is very very well off and rich and doth protest tooooomuch.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that if you plotted a graph of incomes you would end up with a bell curve with a small percentage at the top of the income scale and some at the bottom. Most of us would find ourselves in the middle - ranging from those who are getting by and those who are well-off.
Hoon for once may have been speaking the truth - he is not rich, although he may certainly be well-off. He would find himself below Prenmier League footballers, BBC presenters like Jonathan Ross and teenage whiz-kids who market ring tones.
I don't care much what MPs get paid. I do care very much that they see fit to be cavalier about their expenses and use their position to provide sinecures for unqualified people - and that is the big issue here.
Using the law of supply and demand there is not much reason to pay more than a decent wage for MPs. No constituency yet, to my knowledge, has had to use expensive advertising or use head hunters to find candidates. No matter how terrible we are told the job is or how poorly paid, they still keep knowcking on the door.

Anonymous said...

Hoon is comfortable, but not rich. Assuming his family history is true then he has not inherited any wealth.

he is not for instance rich enough to own two houses. But he does have a good pension, but then again no job security.

I grow a bit tired i must admit with all the hysteria about MPs pay - the mess we are in now is because of it being kept artificially and politically low in previous years.

I would be interested to see how we compare with other countries.

the facts are we need MPs like it or not. And they do need to have somewhere to stay (which need maintaining) near parliament during the week and they do need expenses foe travelling to their constituencies.

maybe all the genius' out there can come up with a solution.

we can I suggest pay MPs more and sort out the expenses guff and fund it by having fewer MPs - say 10-15% fewer.

Anonymous said...

I see that once again Question Time had a representative from the Green Party. In the recent elections the BNP nearly tied with the Greens but I have yet to see them getting a representative here, or indeed the BBC generally inviting their comments. Let alone interviewing them in the friendly way they do the Greens.

While nobody really believes the BBC impartial they occasionally try to claim to be merely keeping a party balance. You do not have to be a BNP supporter to believe they should not show such blatant & overwhelming partiality in UK party politics.

I am not a BNP fan but will say that I think them less totalitarian & less destructive than the Greens.

Chris Paul said...

That's NOT what he said Iain. Why would you misrepresent someone so completely and so deliberately?

He said he was not from a rich family background and revealed his father's humble employment. The point he was making was that wages were introduced for parliamentarians to allow the Buffs of this world to serve.

Thank goodness for that! (joke)

Chris Paul said...

On Neil's point re BNP exposure ... there have been unfortunate results when that criminal hate monger Nick Griffin has been interviewed. And besides in any national stats they don't come close to the Greens or even UKIP.

Particularly difficult in "live" circumstances. Like the time he ran rings round Peter from Radio 5 Live when Michael Howard went dog whistling in Burnley or Blackburn, conflating asylum and illegal immigration with established BME communities and giving the BNP a beautiful platform.

R5L did not cope with live Griffin.

Anonymous said...

When Labour lose the next election he'll still be regurgitating his lawyerly catchphrase," I simply don't accept that."

Anonymous said...

Chris Paul said...

"that criminal hate monger Nick Griffin".

Nick Griffin certainly does not hate English people except for the liblabcon traitors. Nulab certainly do hate English people. English people now increasingly hate Labour scum.

The future has been displayed in Stoke on Trent. Only deviants, immigrants and morons vote Labour.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of comments here assuming there is no such thing as poverty anymore. Maybe not in your circles, you need to get out more. I regularly see an unfortunate single mother in my town struggling to bring her family up. She dresses modestly in charity shop clothes and has to calculate the food shopping to the last penny, to the extent that if she gets a multi-buy wrong then the food has to go back on the shelves.

Not that this means I agree with how Labour have wrecked this country (again).

Anonymous said...

Try entering your income and council tax into the IFS website and see where you sit in the rest of the population:

It's based on household income, but very roughly:
- Geoff Hoon is clearly in the top 1%.
- Hitchy's 'poor' person on £30K is still better off than 80% odd of the population.

Always amazes me how many people start thinking £30K is 'poor'.

Anonymous said...

It depends where you are

15K on one of the islands of the coast of Scotland - where if you want a house you ask nicely if you can take a roofless cottage (and get it for square root of...) - is good money.

15K in London.....

Anonymous said...

Chris Paul criticises my call for the BBC to be impartial in party politics on 2 grounds

1) "there have been unfortunate results when that criminal hate monger Nick Griffin has been interviewed"

By which he presumably means violence by opponents. The proper response to political violence is not to give in to it by suppressing free speech but to enforce the rule of law. Any other course makes a mockery of democracy.

2) "Like the time he ran rings round Peter from Radio 5 Live"

The purpose of interviewing should be to elicit information for the public. To say that the interviews with that party should only take place if the BBC can make them look bad is wrong - anything else is purely propaganda which was my original objection.

In any case I have never seen it being necessary for any Green or "environmental" spokesman to run rings round a BBC intervierwer since they are always given an open goal - the comparitive treatement was also part of my objection.