Monday, 22 September 2014

Ed Balls - not quite affordable and fair

In his speech today at the Labour Party conference Ed Balls told us he wants pay settlements that are affordable and fair. "Private and public sector workers should all share in rising prosperity. So Labour will not undermine fairness and the independent review bodies by rejecting their advice out of hand". Good point well made Ed. Unfortunately I did hear you, a few minutes earlier, talking about  ministerial pay rises. If you win the election the pay for every government minister will be cut by 5% and ministerial pay will be frozen each year until they have balanced the nation's books.

This makes me think two things. Firstly that you have undermined fairness for the sake of applause at conference. You see, for the working man (and woman) government ministers earn unimaginable amount and a freeze for a few years (because surely you can't guarantee fiscal restraint for longer than a government's term in office) is not that important. Sure - it's a nice sign but that's all it is. And if we are to take this sign seriously then Labour is saying that you should not earn the right wage as a politician. Following this logic then you are stopping many entering politics. That's probably the case anyway but shouldn't we be concerned about equality and diversity and getting people from underprivileged backgrounds into politics. Secondly, we have an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to review pay. Would it save a lot of money if and should Labour be saying that they would scrap IPSA? Surely not, as then we would be back to MPs giving themselves rises.

It makes me think that MPs can afford wage cuts and Labour MPs would do this to win votes. This may then lead to a Dutch auction to see who can take the least pay in order to win votes. If IPSA say a pay rise is fair then accept it. Don't try to win votes by telling us you will take a pay cut. That road leads to MPs who are only from a certain background. So those with plenty of money like Nigel Farage will be the model for future candidates.

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