sign ePetition for MPs on a skilled worker's wage
|Cartoon by Martin Rowson|
It makes your blood boil.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has proposed an 11% pay rise for Westminster MPs! According to these parliamentary chancers, when it comes to workers' wages the level of inflation is rock bottom, way down about 2% - they claim. Back on the planet 99% of us Earthlings inhabit, of course inflation on energy, food, rent, transport, and other daily essentials makes a bitter mockery of such claims.
£40 an hour for them - £6.19 for us
According to MPs about to be awarded a RISE of £7,600 - to a mind boggling £74,000 a year (near enough £40 an hour) - workers who produce the wealth of society only deserve to be guaranteed a minimum of £6.19 an hour. The same parliamentary elite have presided over the longest sustained fall in real wages for workers in this country since the 1870s; no that's not a typo, the 1870s. And of course they prattle on about us 'all being in this together' whilst slashing benefits for the poorest, sick and disabled people included. Even after we pounded Ed Miliband into moving a Motion to abolish the monstrous Bedroom Tax, 47 Labour MPs thought it far too minor a matter to even bother turning up to vote for Labour's own Motion - allowing it to fall by 26 votes, thus prolonging the agony and poverty inflicted on nearly 90,000 Scottish households and 600,000 across the UK.
Snouts in the Trough
The mainstream party politicians give politics a bad name. They drive people into cynicism and abstention from the electoral process. These parliamentary pigs have their snouts in the trough. But it doesn't have to be like that. Politics has always been populated by principled people, idealists devoting time, money and energy to fighting for change and transformation of the lives of millions. Scottish miner Keir Hardie fought selflessly for working men and women, motivated by his repugnance at the terrible exploitation he witnessed first-hand. When he was elected as the first working class Labour MP 125 years ago, he spurned the pomp and ceremony of Westminster, horrifying the 19th century Hooray Henry's with his working man's clothes, and more especially his socialist aims.
From No Wage to Obscene Wage for MPs
At that time the House of Commons was stuffed full of landowners and industrial capitalists, who wandered into parliament for a few hours in their spare time to pass laws to their own class advantage. There was no wage for being an MP, which suited the capitalists and landlords of the day immensely. It effectively barred workers from being able to afford to enter the Commons to stand up for the working class. They had to hold pit-head collections in the mining villages to prevent MP Keir Hardie's family from being evicted due to rent arrears.
I firmly believe MPs SHOULD have a wage, precisely so working class representatives can afford to be elected to use parliament as one forum for popularizing socialism. But the key is what level of wage.
The British ruling class are past masters at buying off their opponents. They went from no wage for MPs to one that over the years has rocketed into the stratosphere, in many cases literally buying off former fighters, in others simply attracting the lowest form of careerists without two principles to rub together.
Socialist MP on a Worker's Wage
One of my fondest political memories is organizing the election campaign of socialist MP Terry Fields in Liverpool. Terry was a former firefighter who remained on a firefighter's wage when he was elected to parliament - 'the madhouse' as he passionately denounced it every time he mentioned the place. He donated the rest of his MP's salary to workers on strike, communities fighting to save schools or hospitals, and to the socialist cause he devoted himself to without ever a wobble towards careerism.
More recently, the Scottish Socialist Party MSPs likewise lived on the average wage of a skilled worker, to keep rooted in the realities facing the working class they sought to represent. That's not just a measure of accountability for the here and now over elected politicians, but also a glimpse of a democratic socialist future, free of privileged elites, with those elected to government at every level remaining on the same income bracket as those who elected them.
400,000 workers in Scotland earn less than the so-called Living Wage of £7.45 an hour. How could MPs on £65,000, let alone the recommended £74,000, have the first inkling of what life is like for the rest of us?
That's why it's a core principle of the SSP that MSPs and MPs should receive no more than the average skilled worker's wage. Then they would be more likely to fight for higher incomes for the 99% rather than living the high life themselves of the 1%.
Instead of rising out of the working class, they would rise with the rest of the working class, fighting for use of the nation's vast resources to be deployed to eradicate poverty and inequality.
Sign the Petition
That's why I've launched the online Petition demanding all MPs reject and hand back the disgusting £7,600 rise, that they condemn the £74,000 on offer to them, and go much further still by nailing their colours to the demand for MPs on a skilled worker's wage.
I don't expect any Tory or LibDem worthies to support the latter. Nor do I intend to hold my breath for the numbers in the parliamentary Labour Party with such sound socialist convictions.
But let's try. Let's show them up, and more importantly in the process also show ordinary people that politics doesn't have to be a dirty game of private gain and unprincipled self-seeking.
Idealism is Alive and Well
Idealism is alive and kicking back outside parliament. Let's help build the forces that will send principled socialists into the lions' den in the near future, fighting for decent living incomes for all, including MPs/MSPs, putting an end to the obscene gap between those elected to represent policies and principles and those who elected them.
Sign the Petition. Express your fury. Tell the MPs to get their snouts out of the trough. And join the crusade to cleanse the pigsty by helping to get socialist MSPs elected who will remain on the wage of a skilled worker, not the ill-gotten fortune of a skilled careerist.