If I ever give any time to the reasons why a person might want to become an MP, I come up short. There are going to be a few who do it because they want to make a difference, have fire in their bellies and want to serve the public. I mean, there have to be some, right? But of course, in order to get there, they have to immerse themselves in the various party machineries and then get sucked into the moral vacuum that is Westminster.
I’ve often fantasised that it would be nice to be an MEP – just to be able to live in Strasbourg, but that’s as far a my ambition goes. I wouldn’t want to live in London, but I guess some MPs have nursed that ambition. I think for many of them it comes down to lifestyle. And I think a lot of them, they see being an MP as a career move, a way to open doors into well-paid consultancy gigs and lucrative part-time board memberships.
The latest cash-for-access scandal lays bare the innards of that particular crowd. They have this problem, don’t they, which is that in their own minds they stand above the rest of us and therefore their income should reflect that. They’re important people and they should eat at all the best restaurants and be at all the important openings. But then they discover that a non-cabinet MP is paid a “mere” £67,000, which puts a crimp in their London lifestyle ambitions. Outside the bubble, looking in, £67,000 is two and even three times what working people usually earn. Many of us could live far more comfortably than we do if we were paid that much. We’d be getting the bathroom fixed and a new kitchen and maybe a extension. But for the MP who thought it would be all cocktail parties on the South Bank and a house in the country and a nice German car, £67,000 isn’t nearly enough. So they start grubbing around for extra cash and it all gets a bit undignified.
Maybe its worse for the ones who had a taste of Cabinet-level incomes and then had to take a pay cut, but it’s hard to feel much sympathy. They should have saved some pennies in an ISA.