Luxury “second jobs” held by Members of Parliament are in the headlines. We’re told that at least 200 out of 650 MPs have added earnings to supplement their £81,932/yr basic pay. As for the remaining 450, we have to wonder: how DO they manage on that pittance?!
Of course none of the newspapers or TV channels is talking about the 2nd, 3rd and 4th jobs which many working class people have to take, not as a “top-up”, but in order to barely survive and feed the kids!
The scandalous facts of workers’ lives are not “juicy”. Never mind that the one million pound payday for the likes of “Sir” Geoffrey Cox MP, who spent lock-down representing clients (not constituents!) from a holiday home on the British Virgin Islands, depend on the ongoing extraction of profits from workers whose annual average “payday” might hit £19,000, if they are lucky.
So too, with the £100,000 extra income of ex-MP Owen Paterson who lobbied government for Lynn’s Country Foods and the Randox Lab, which happens to process government-sponsored PCR Covid tests!
Taking as much as they “deserve”
For sure, MPs’ greed and corruption is scandalous - but it’s hardly a great revelation! This Cox character, who is seen winking at the public on the front page of Tuesday’s (Tory-supporting!) Daily Mail, was Conservative PM Theresa May’s attorney general - her chief lawyer - dealing with the twists and turns of her Brexit agreement, before Johnson ousted both of them. In other words, these guys know exactly what is “legal” for them to do and what is not.
And it just so happens that it is perfectly legal to defraud the public, do insider-dealing, claim expenses and procure contracts for friends and family - with very few provisos! If it was not, the House of Commons would be almost empty and the Lords would be totally deserted.
All these self-regulating “standards” committees which MPs create - and then recreate, as they did this week - are designed precisely to allow them to get away with as much “corruption” as possible! And the more debates they have in front of House of Commons cameras, the more they feel they can justify their parasitic existence.
In fact MPs of every party have come out this week to justify having another paid job, or even several. They claim that this is no more than they “deserve”.
However, it is worth remembering that all MPs already have a second source of income: their claims for expenses. And that these can more than double their salaries. Yes, even today after the mega-scandal generated in 2009 when the Daily Torygraph uncovered the flagrant abuse of this practice on a grand scale, nothing is transparent. It’s still not even clear how Boris Johnson paid for his flat in 10 Downing Street to be done up...
Anyone around at the time of the 2009 scandal will remember how MPs on every side were found to have been claiming for 2nd homes, for renovations, for duck ponds, etc.,. And how as many as 29, including the Speaker of the House, had to resign, were deselected, sacked, or retired early. Eight of them went to jail for fraud (prosecuted by none other than Keir Starmer!). Yes, those were the days!
Our democracy versus theirs
Starmer told Andrew Marr on Sunday that “the prime minister is trashing our country and our democracy” and that he is“in the sewer with his troops”. Democracy? Really? As if this political system - based on class, wealth and the ownership of private property, has ever been “democratic” for the majority! That Johnson makes a mockery of the “mother of all parliaments” is just to make of it what it really is!
As to sewers - well, it is true that the real nature of their self-serving politics remains hidden by all the pomp and ceremony - from the figurehead diamond-bedecked queen, downwards through the ruling classes... Until, of course, some particularly smelly scandal lifts the lid on the rats and filth. Starmer knows this and he is an integral part of it.
The “democracy” he talks about in such nationalist tones obviously has nothing to do with “rule by the people”. The “people” cannot even recall their MPs if they mess up, lie, or simply do nothing. Do they hold a vote in their constituencies before every vote in parliament, so that they actually represent the will of those who elect them? Yet they get to stick around, by hook or by crook for at least 5 years, sometimes a lifetime, on 4 times the wage of the average worker whose taxes pay for this!
One hundred and fifty years ago the workers of Paris established a Commune which operated on the basis of “direct democracy”, with immediate recall of elected delegates if they didn’t carry out peoples’ wishes - and they were all paid the same wage as ordinary working men and women. However, these workers first had to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class and their state and send it packing. If our working class wanted to try this today, these rotten politicians and the class of capitalists they represent would finally get what they truly deserve.