MPs are getting quite a bit of a battering of late. Not least from yours truly here.
Today, however, from a person of my acquaintance who’d prefer to remain unnamed, I’ve been made aware of a possible – even if only partial – solution to the current pig-trough state of Parliament. Given the awful difficulty of extracting that nexus which ties public representatives to business associates through the effervescent mechanism ofrevolving doors, it seems that alternative approaches are needed. Whilstbig money plays fast and loosewith the very essence of representative democracy, it doesn’t half seem like a humongous adding of insult to injury that we should be obliged to pay such MPs – or, indeed,peers– anything at all from the public purse.
The bright and bushy-tailed suggestion, then, that my nameless ideas-merchant has had? How about we means-tested public representatives’ salaries and expenses? As the reach of revolving doors corrupts even parts of the civil service, such a system would have to be implemented not only for elected Members of Parliament and their unelected compatriots in the Lords but also the top echelons of government’s support services. But the moral circumscribing of our political system’s cost to the taxpayer in an easy-to-understand procedure like means-testing would have two potentially positive results:
Government and party politics would cost less for the taxpayers.
Some MPs and other representatives might be encouraged to advertise their total disconnect from the pig trough.
We could even have a means-testing list, where one’s score percentage-wise of full salary/expenses received or otherwise would help define one’s level of dependence on the lobbyists.
Instead of simply declaring an interest on arcane documents only Hansard-wonks comprehend, our MPs and other representatives would have an easily comparable figure tied to their names and positions – figures which could be simply understood, bandied about, posted on websites and widely exchanged on social networks.
Imagine the conversations: “My MP’s a 94 percenter.” “Bloody hell! Mine’s only a 2 percenter.”
How easy would it become with such a system to compare and contrast the relative merits of our leaders, and their attachments to pork-barrel behaviours.