Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Holmsey

3 min read

Should MPs get a pay rise?

Until last week, 11,822 Islanders were in receipt of that £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit. Incredibly, Sir Peter Bottomley, occasional Seaview resident and Westminster’s longest serving MP, chose this moment to contend that Britain’s MPs deserve a 20 per cent pay rise.

Bottomley says that £82,000 plus massive expenses is a huge disincentive to attracting MPs of sufficient calibre. He ‘doesn’t know how they manage’ and ‘it’s really grim’. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that most people earn a lot less than that, and many of us think that it’s not the money that means we get such a dismal calibre of MPs, it’s that they (with a few exceptions) are a self-serving bunch of hypocrites, more interested in what they can charge the taxpayer than serving their constituents.

Entering parliament may be a tough choice for some, but there’s never a shortage of people willing to do it; elections are always fiercely contested. The real problem is candidates are chosen by the parties – who want people who will do what they’re told rather than those who will think for themselves.

Bob gave up being a journalist to join the Territorial Army and then gave that up to be a Member of Parliament, so I suspect that the £82,000 was a substantial pay-rise. People say he’s had two homes for a long time, which seems to be borne out by his Register of Interests, but he quickly took the opportunity to charge the rent on his Island home to the taxpayer.

Being an MP was a long-held ambition; in 2005 he wanted to be an MP in Nottinghamshire, so it’s possible the rate of pay was irrelevant? At the next election, Brexit will be a distant memory and, likely as not, so will Boris’s popularity, so the outcome is anyone’s guess. Bob must have thought himself lucky to have achieved his parliamentary ambition here, so he probably daren’t moan about the salary. Island opponents and critics continue to say he’s a largely absent MP who doesn’t respond to constituents’ correspondence. Some also say he’s a career politician, obsessed with foreign affairs.

Last week, Bob popped up on BBC2’s Newsnight, insensitively sitting alongside a roaring fire! Is it really that cold yet, Bob? Do you realise that many Islanders can’t afford to put the heating on just yet? Rather awkwardly, he was questioned about the £20 cut and the rapidly rising cost of fuel. I squirmed with embarrassment as he suggested that the fuel crisis was all the fault of (wait for it) his usual suspects, the Russians and Chinese! It got worse when he suggested that Islanders, needing more money, could just get a job; ‘a hand up not a handout’ were his actual words. How could he not know that getting on for half of those 11,822 constituents losing the £20 already have jobs? Or that Britain’s dependence on foreign gas is a complete failure of his government’s energy policy? If he really is that dim, it explains why he’s yet to convince the Prime Minister he’s the right man for that Foreign Office job he desperately craves!

GPs average just over £100,000 annually, and Bottomley says that general practitioners in politics deserve a similar sum. Do you think that’s fair, or is he hopelessly out of touch? It’s often said the Church of England is the Tory party at prayer. I really can’t think that in these scarily inflationary times Jesus would want Tory MPs to abandon the poorest while simultaneously proposing a whopping 20% pay raise for themselves!

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