Sunday, May 17, 2009

MPs' Expenses: All You Need to Read

The two best articles on the expenses unpleasantness:
They say quite different things. But Kettle knows everything worth knowing about politics and Field is a saint so they are both right.


  1. Field is right, as usual, but on this occasion Kettle has been swallowing a line from the aliens on Planet Westminser. How can Morley or Chaytor look local party activists in the eye - you know, the folks who do the canvassing and post leaflets. These are the people you need for a functioning democracy, and a good number are motivated by a sense of civic values. If their MPs were to turn round and say 'It was Magggie Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch's fault!', I doubt they would be believed.

  2. Kettle's assertion to the contrary, your average British parliamentarian enjoys an above-average compensation and benefits package. While Kettle blames Thatcher for this debacle almost two decades after she left power, one could as easily blame Douglas-Home. Or Atlee. Or Heath. Wilson anyone? (Pick your favorite villain and insert name.)

  3. As Bryan says both men are right. The reason's simple: Field's an MP, but an admirably independent-minded one. It behoves him to be self-critical in his key area of expertise. Kettle is an great free-thinking journalist, so likewise with his area. What he unpacked on Thursday is where I following Fry was headed the day before. Richard Ingrams cited pots and kettles (not meaning the Guardian man) in the Indie the previous weekend. But few press people have got real like this and until they do we won't be anywhere near a solution.

    Randy seems to imply meanwhile that it is wrong for MPs to get above average compensation. I'd really like to see an intelligent discussion of that point here. Or maybe I wouldn't. Maybe we want debate here to be totally average, based on the level of the rest of the internet? Perhaps we are determined that those who rule us should be entirely mediocre, which of course means exactly the same as average, at least if I'm being mean.

    As I said on Wednesday, getting from where we are to a more enlightened system isn't going to be easy. But to suggest that the right end point is for MPs to get the mean salary for the UK - or would we prefer to knock that down to the median? - is surely to give up on representative democracy completely.