MPs' expenses: things for policywonk to say if she gets the chance

(259 Posts)
policywonk Tue 19-May-09 17:15:35

So I'm off tomorrow afternoon to this panel discussion thing: here are the details

I'll go through the old thread tonight but post any more stuff here. Y'know, if you want to.

<yawns> I'm SO OVER MPs' expenses. wink

edam Sun 24-May-09 20:24:51

Most journalists don't earn anything like that much. A few star columnists and very senior people on the nationals might.

Think I said further down my friend took a cut to go to a national from a trade mag - he must have been in the early 30ks at Emap, so Mail obviously pays reporters less than that.

One of the magazines I edited was VERY tightfisted. I had someone who was very junior acting up to cover a more senior post while we advertised. My publisher wouldn't let me pay her anything extra for it, all I could get her were some shopping vouchers (£100 IIRC). That's for acting up in a senior role for three months! (She got the job, actually, was v. v. good.)

V much agree with you, Lenin, about big business and politicians. Would heartily recommend Robert Peston's book "Who Runs Britain" on this subject.

I think it was Peter York's conspiracy theory, not Policy's, Quattro. What is it particularly that seems so far fetched to you?

Quattrocento Sat 23-May-09 23:12:13

Policy, I heart you, I do really but this conspiracy theory is only one stop away from Barking.

LeninGrad Sat 23-May-09 23:02:12

Do journalists really earn that much, I had no idea.

Yes, it's not getting us any closer to social equality or stopping the world so we can all get off for a minute is it?

Still, it needed to come out and I'd rather there was tension between big business and politicians than not. Seems to me that too many of the latter were in thrall to the former and maybe there will be even more of an incentive for that to change now anyway, especially if the politicians were dropped in it by big business.

Once the fuss has died down, of course.

Nadine Dorries made me cringe. Anthony Steen on the other hand was utterly hilarious.

theyoungvisiter Sat 23-May-09 21:38:59

btw I see Policy already mentioned Nadine Dorries but did anyone else larf on hearing her speech?

Sooooooo misguided, I almost wondered if the Telegraph had written it for her, just to add fuel to the flames grin

That is very interesting, policy. I have been thinking that it was odd that all this should have come via the Telegraph when so many Tories were obviously going to be implicated. It has certainly been extremely effective in taking attention away from the more slippery targets in the financial industry.

My query would be about how MPs feel that they can reconcile their desire for increasing amounts of information about us (the 'if you've nothing to hide then what's the problem' school of politics) and their own desire for privacy and the belief that the public have no entitlement to know anything about them.

The repution of politics will not improve until there is some parity between politicians and us, the great unwashed.

policywonk Sat 23-May-09 20:28:13

Re. Iorek and edam's very good points about the profit motive and a general lack of moral sense in our society - Peter York (who was at this debate thing for some reason) remarked that he didn't think it was a coincidence that all this has come out just at the time that a political will to tax the rich/cap vast salaries finally seemed to be appearing. I think he was implying that some fat cat types might have been involved in the leaking.

And on YV's point about journos earning loads: Jenni Russell made this point, saying something like 'I doubt anyone in this room earns much less than twice what an MP earns'. That was another '?' moment for me, but I guess she was probably right about most of the people there (journos mostly).

edam Sat 23-May-09 19:53:02

Oh yeah, there is often rank hypocrisy when the leader writers wag their fingers sadly over someone who is behaving no worse than the people who run the papers do. But still..

Telegraph still has thousands of documents to go through. Not sure MPs would be too happy if they just put them up on the web, given they include addresses and bank details and so on. It's the original records of the receipts so EVERYTHING is on there.

theyoungvisiter Sat 23-May-09 19:48:41

I agree with that Edam and I'm not saying it's comparable at all - I was just making the point that there is a lot of gleeful moralising and finger pointing going on for the sake of a good story. It's being dressed up as the ol' "shining sword of truth" malarky, and some of it is, but a lot of the column inches are just plain old schadenfreude.

I'd rather see the facts in black and white and make up my own mind, I don't feel the endless moralising by the columnists is adding much to the debate.

That's what I meant about releasing the rest of the data now.

(btw I realise that rank and file journalists don't earn big money - I have a lot of friends in the industry - but the biggest moralisers on this particular issue have tended to be the celebrity columnists)

KristinaM Sat 23-May-09 18:59:34

i agree with edam. a higher standard of probity is expected when you are spending the tax payers money

edam Sat 23-May-09 18:32:39

Journalists aren't paid out of public funds, aren't part of the state and don't make the laws everyone else lives by. There's no comparison.* And the reporters who are digging out this story aren't well-paid - one of my friends took a cut when he went to the Mail (yes, I know, everyone hates the Mail, I'm not fond of it either).

*Bar the Beeb but that's a tad different as it's funded directly by the licence fee and news is part of the public service remit in return for said fee.

theyoungvisiter Sat 23-May-09 17:47:42

I must say though, I do find the moral indignation of the press a tad hard to swallow.

Considering the ENORMOUS salaries of senior editors and their generally pretty relaxed attitude to expenses and perks in kind, their moral indignation over MPs earnings is hypocritical to say the least.

Ok, what they earn is the business of their bosses and shareholders, but the "holier than thou" editorials do stick in the throat.

I think Rowan Williams has something of a point in that the condemnation of MPs is peculiarly personal, lip-licking in tone, and not focussed on the most grievous excesses. It's not the content which should be reigned in but the tone - I dislike the way some sections of the media are deliberately whipping up the public frenzy.

IMO they should post the whole lot on the internet now and let the bloggers loose. Stop the drip, and start the debate.

edam Sat 23-May-09 15:08:30

(the FT had a headline along the lines of 'Now THEY can't criticise US' about the MP's exes v. City greed. Darn.)

edam Sat 23-May-09 15:07:28

V. good points (again) Iorek.

I'm always on here defending Rowan Williams, but I don't understand why he is making this point at all. Apparently he said that it was important to preserve the idea that serving as a politician could be "a calling worthy of the most generous instincts". So I'm not sure why he should think the solution might be to ignore the complete failing of such instincts.

Unusually, it's the head of the Catholic church who seems to have made a more sensible (if rather obvious point) that "people need their own moral sense as well as rules".

If we agree to condemn not only the obviously fraudulent, but also the ones who have profitted entirely within the rules, then we can only do so if we have a clear notion of morality when it comes to finances which is driven by something other than the pursuit of profit. And I am not sure that there is any kind of consensus on this at the moment. It is hardly surprising, when governments seem to have believed their chief purpose to be the nurture of "wealth creators" (who have indeed created unimaginable wealth for themselves) that MP's would regard their own salaries and expenses as embarrassingly modest by comparison, and, like those wealth creators, do everything possible within the rules to maximise their own profits. Unfortunately for the MP's, they don't have the luxury enjoyed by ex-senior bankers and private equity bosses of slinking off unseen to the Caribbean or wherever until it all blows over.

justaboutspringtime Sat 23-May-09 10:04:55

"Williams is right that this is damaging democracy but actually 'this' the wrongdoing of MPs, not the public reaction, which is morally correct" - Yes I think this is true too. Am I contradicting myeslf?

edam Sat 23-May-09 09:27:17

Rowan Williams should know better than to defend wrongdoing. OR to suggest a cover-up is better than the truth being exposed.

And it's ridiculous to say we should call a stop now. A. it's impossible - the Telegraph still has thousands of documents to go through and who knows what's in there?

B. It would be bloody unfair to all the decent MPs (and I'm sure there must be a fair proportion - I hope, anyway), leaving them all tarred with the same brush.

Williams is right that this is damaging democracy but actually 'this' the wrongdoing of MPs, not the public reaction, which is morally correct.

It is A Good Thing that people are outraged by immoral behaviour. And disapprove of fraud and exploitation.

When things have gone very badly wrong, you need a full account before you can start to put things right. Otherwise you end up with a situation akin to the Catholic church repeatedly failing to take responsibility for child abuse.

justaboutspringtime Fri 22-May-09 19:46:30

Ooh yes, Iorek's point is nice. You see, I can only nod at others' opinions ATM, it is dreadful.

policywonk Fri 22-May-09 19:43:44

Actually I think Iorek had a very good point further up/down the thread:

'The huge indignation that is focussed on MP's at the moment is surely fuelled in part by the rather more diffuse and impotent anger felt at the way in which wealth (on a far far greater scale) has been transferred from the many to the few during the excesses of the boom and consequent bust. If confidence is to be restored in politics it needs to go much further than reforming MP's expenses. I would want to see politicians starting to talk in very direct terms about social justice.'

policywonk Fri 22-May-09 19:40:09

The Guardian once had a big headline 'What is Rowan going to do for the Church?' and I thought, well, hang on a minute, I've got a lot on my plate already. grin

I agree that the public's anger is a bit disproportionate (when you consider the relatively muted response to illegal wars, removal of basic liberties, pursuit of Trident etc etc). But he seems to think that the public had a lot of respect for MPs before all this kicked off, but they really didn't; I think most of the public (wrongly IMO) is anti-politics, full stop, and has always regarded almost all politicians very suspiciously. This affair has just provided an outlet for something that's been brewing for a long time. Perhaps it's a particularly effective outlet because it's a cross-party issue?

I do think it was crass of Dorries to compare this with the McCarthy hearings.

justaboutspringtime Fri 22-May-09 19:25:45

I have to say that I am too pg-stupid at the moment to decide if he is right or not. But I do know you are much missed on the termination support thread, ilovemydog - do please pop back and say hi!

Rowan Williams is right, but the problem is that politics should be setting the agenda, rather than reacting to it. There aren't any big ideas or leaders in any political party that I can see. There are lots of campaigns, and single issue politics.

I want to be inspired smile

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now