October 26, 2006

Socialism Rampant

A quick insight into the New Labour regime. That very same government that has given us massive taxation whilst splashing out on wars, failed IT systems, little change in public services, the Millennium Dome and wants to spend yet more on curtailing our freedom (as we are no longer capable taking responsibility for our own rational risks). According to my BOTFP calculation, MPs salaries have increased by almost 35% since 1997, whilst the average national salary has only gone up by 26% against an inflation growth in the same period of circa 20%.

We really need a ‘none of the above’ box on the ballot paper.


- 23 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Interesting entry. I’m with you there.

    26 Oct 2006, 11:41

  2. We really need a ‘none of the above’ box on the ballot paper.

    There is. It’s called “spoiling your ballot”.

    26 Oct 2006, 12:12

  3. MPs salaries have increased by almost 35% since 1997, whilst the average national salary has only gone up by 26%

    Hmmm… MPs are normally university educated and highly motivated people. Considering this we should really just compare the rise in MP salaries with the rise in salaries of other such university educated and highly motivated people. Over the past decade the salaries of the poorest 20% of people (i.e. generally poorly educated and poorly motivated people) have been pretty much stagnant, thus they are pulling down the average. Taking this into account its plausible to say that the rise in MP salaries isn’t any more then the rise of salaries of other such type of people (indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if it were lower when you consider how poorly paid Tony Blair (£175,000 a year) is to people of equal ability in the private sphere (about 5-10% as much as the typical CEO)).

    26 Oct 2006, 14:12

  4. I agree that the figures are skewed by the fact that graduate professions tend to have a higher % pay increase than those in lower paid jobs (incidentally, didn’t New Labour promise to curtail the widening gap between rich and poor?). However, what I haven’t taken into account is the additional benefits that MPs receive such as staff costs and housing bursaries; necessary to do the job, yes, but something that surely affects cost of living.

    To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that MPs should be measured against graduate salaries for several reasons;
    - A very high proportion of MPs constituents will not be in graduate positions and we do operate a supposed representative democracy.
    - There is a danger in treating politics as a graduate job given that the great emancipation of the C20th was predicated on the entrance of the Unions and ‘lower classes’ into mainstream politics. One of the current bugbears of many people are the career politicians who contrast so sharply against the conviction politicians of the past.

    There are arguments for and against matching political salaries with professional salaries but the main one seems to be that to get the best you must pay at least the average. This may be the case but I would rather that politicians pursued their cause for as long as they had fire in their belly, rather than having a sufficiently comfortable salary that they could become indolent.

    The PM may only receive £175k p/a but he does have free run of a number of £1m+ properties and as such I would guess that his disposable income is a fair proportion of that £175k after tax. Equally, whilst Tony may be paid less than many chief execs, they are only paid for so long as they perform; board meetings don’t wait 5 years before removing a failing CEO. You could almost (but not quite!) make a case for comparing his salary to top footballers as they have similar time restrictions on their ability to perform and he only gets paid a couple of % of their salaries.

    How about performance related pay? We could have a referendum every year to decide on MP’s increase ranging from the lowest public sector % increase to the highest FTSE100 CEO’s… that could be fun… Wasn’t there a website running a fantasy cabinet game a couple of years ago? And if not, why not!?!

    There is. It’s called “spoiling your ballot”.

    If only – the problem is that the political system has become institutionalised with political parties that to effect real change you need to usurb the incumbent big two. This sometimes happens with a one issue independent candidate but to carry any voting weight you’d need a mechanism to register dissatisfaction directly without having to vote in a far right/left/single issue candidate.

    26 Oct 2006, 15:38

  5. to carry any voting weight you’d need a mechanism to register dissatisfaction directly without having to vote in a far right/left/single issue candidate.

    Um. That’s what spoiling your ballot does. You know what it means, right? It means making your ballot invalid by, eg. placing an X for all candidates rather than just one, or crossing out the whole paper and writing “none of the above”, etc. You register dissatisfaction (by refusing to vote for anyone, and making the ballot-counters aware of that) and you don’t vote anyone in. Forgive me if I just wasn’t understanding what you wrote, I’m fuzzy-headed today.

    26 Oct 2006, 16:58

  6. I probably didn’t explain my point very clearly. I meant that spoiling your ballot has no direct effect on the election. If 70% of ballots are spoiled and the remaining 10% vote for ‘blue’ and 20% vote for ‘red’ then by default ‘red’ wins regardless of the spoilt papers. By having a ‘none of the above’ category then an election would have to be restaged with new candidates if the majority of voters choose to reject the candidates that are initially presented to them. By doing this, then voters can register objections about the system (i.e. the party cartels) and force politicians to change if they wish to get anyone elected at all. I’d guess in the current climate the ‘none of the above’ category would be a pretty popular voting option.

    27 Oct 2006, 13:38

  7. I see what you mean. I agree, that is a better system :-)

    27 Oct 2006, 16:03

  8. So by “none of the above” you basically mean RON?

    27 Oct 2006, 17:32

  9. young = troll

    27 Oct 2006, 19:49

  10. young = troll

    Er, no.

    27 Oct 2006, 23:04

  11. What’s this government got to do with Socialism?

    As for RON. What a waste of space. If you don’t like Blair/Cameron, form a party with policies you do like.

    How about enroling on the Introduction to Politics module?

    28 Oct 2006, 15:29

  12. So by “none of the above” you basically mean RON?

    Yep. Although, it’s been so long since I participated in a Union election, I forgot that it was used at Warwick!

    What’s this government got to do with Socialism?

    That was rather the implied point.

    As for RON. What a waste of space. If you don’t like Blair/Cameron, form a party with policies you do like.

    The history of new parties during the last 100 years has been less than glorious. It is almost impossible for any new party to develop sufficient traction to change the political landscape in any meaningful way, however, the main parties themselves have often been remolded; most often by the ideological presence of a new leader or oligarchy. I’m suggesting that by providing a direct route for the populace to register displeasure with the system, then the parties will change not by force of charisma but by popular will.

    28 Oct 2006, 16:55

  13. If you don’t like Blair/Cameron, form a party with policies you do like.

    I like neither Blair nor Cameron (although with Blair it’s more of a mild dislike whereas with the slimy, stuck-up ponce Cameron it’s much stronger) and would definitely advocate a “none of the above” or RON box. It’s not a waste of space at all. I don’t have the money or time or know-how to form my own political party. If there are none I want to vote for then what would you suggest I do if I’m not allowed to tick “none of the above” or spoil my paper?

    29 Oct 2006, 10:59

  14. Catherine

    It’s a shame you haven’t got the time because I think I would very probably vote for you, Benjamin. I’m sure a lot of others would too.

    29 Oct 2006, 11:35

  15. Steve

    well the idea of voting is you vote for your prefered candidate, not your perfect one. Only the MPs themselves have the luxury of voting for their perfect candidate. In a general election using a ron box would pose the same risks as spoiling your paper but maybe worse if it actually won.

    if you were to vote ron because you disagreed with something like top up fees then all the ron votes are coming out of your favoured party’s count and you’ll probably end up with another party introducing top up fees, and then some. It still makes much more sense to vote for your favourite candidate. We do have 3 main parties picking up seats (if you count the tories!) so vote for your favourite since if by some miracle a ron was to win, you’d just have the same parties again with maybe different independent candidates in an expensive re-election. Then through the ensuing re-elections presumably the party with the least stubborn voters wins the seat or possibly a third party who most people didnt want and won a few of the ron votes.

    Also, not sure but wouldnt a ron box force a real candidate off the paper?

    So basically just spoil your paper if you’re pissed off and hate everyone equally. It probably would make more of a difference if all the potential paper spoilers actually went and did it rather than just not voting though. (unless it’s a postal vote, cos then your vote will probably become miraculously unspoiled on the way to its destination)

    A ron box works in the sunion voting i guess since not only would re-elections cost sod all but it reduces slightly the possibility of someone’s 3rd choice vote counting against your one vote with nfp. That, and you might actually have a post with no one suitable standing.

    29 Oct 2006, 20:39

  16. I agree in principal, Steve. I think where I diverge from your view is that I think introducing RON would force the core parties to become more sensitive to voters opinions and thus parties themselves would be forced to offer real alternatives to the centre-ist rhetoric of modern politics. The rush for the middle ground has lead to a very narrow political spectrum and very limited options for the average voter.

    I’m not sure even MPs get to select their perfect candidate (unless they happen to called Brown, G.) but it’s a truism to say that since government’s lose elections rather than oppositions winning them, then power will naturally ‘see-saw’ between parties with little actual change in the politics of Whitehall. Both of the main parties have a vested interest in the status quo, therefore structural change is often avoided and when enacted poorly thought out (e.g. House of Lords).

    Of course, this is all speculation and my idea of a land of milk and honey is probably a tad optimistic. There are, as you pointed out, risks with RON (and if memories of the s.union ballots are anything to go by, Warwick has often suffered these) but I doubt it is a system that will be tried in the near future on a national level as like PR it would upset the status quo too much. But that’s different kettle of fish and I’m too tired! :-)

    29 Oct 2006, 23:10

  17. Hero

    Vincent Carroll-B = Geek.. Ha!

    30 Oct 2006, 08:19

  18. Hero

    1. Re original post – would you suggest a tory model then spend on arms and war, but try to leave the deficit for the next laboutr government then moan about it? At least this government are not so piss weak as to bend over to get shafted by public opinion, they have the balls to do the job, unlike string bag man, Tony has shown himself testicle heavy.

    2. If the Tory MPs were giving their higher salaries back then I might hesititate, but they ain’t doin’ that now are they!

    3. Most low paid workers have the run of million pound properties too.if you are going to count their workplaces!. how much do you think the Uni is worth for example – Physics refurb is over the million mark..

    30 Oct 2006, 13:46

  19. Hi Hero – I think I understand your point #1, but my intention was aimed at the incumbant government rather than being party political. I think you could find numerous examples where the Tories, when in government, made decisions that seemed hypocritical in light of their policy objectives. As it happens, I disagree with many of the actions of this government but I was placing them in the context of the salary increase rather than mounting specific objections against them.

    re #2, I’m not saying the Tories are any better; in fact the point was that given both main parties are too partial to consider this kind of thing objectively there is a need for other mechanisms to either consider these issues or change the system. My preferred option is to change the system by using the General Election as a force to provoke change in the parties.

    30 Oct 2006, 16:38

  20. Leighton Joskey

    ...would force the core parties to become more sensitive to voters opinions and thus parties themselves would be forced to offer real alternatives to the centre-ist rhetoric of modern politics. The rush for the middle ground has lead to a very narrow political spectrum and very limited options for the average voter.

    Wouldn’t a better solution be to get everyone voting? If the parties actually thought they had to persuade a significant majority of the population to vote for them, then we might get better representation. As it is they simply have to ensure they appeal to a pretty small subset of people to secure success. And therefore, they have the luxury of being able to not appeal to a huge proportion of the people and still get elected in.

    We, the people, might get better respect from our politicians if we respected our democratic traditions better.

    It seems a nonsense to me to berate our politicians for making undemocratic choices in office. The democracy bit put them in office and the provides the threat of removing them. We’ve already legitimised their choices.

    31 Oct 2006, 10:51

  21. “At least this government are not so piss weak as to bend over to get shafted by public opinion”

    Yeah, thank god this goverment has the guts to do whatever the hell it likes and isn’t listening to the pesky electorate.

    01 Nov 2006, 02:04

  22. steve

    Well in fairness, the pesky electorate doesnt know what it’s talking about most of the time. The govt usually makes decisions based on information we dont have.

    /goes back to waiting for Godwin

    03 Nov 2006, 17:27

  23. I love this grouping of poorly educated with poorly motivated and highly educated with highly motivated that crops up earlier in the topic. On the one hand I want to use it as a wow to look down on other people “pah, you’re just poorly educated and poorly motivated, stop player-hating me” but on the other I doubt people can be split into one or the other (not that this is what was being insinuated anyway).

    Regarding the original post, I always find MP salary complaints a bit pointless. It’s not like these guys are in it for the money, is it? They’re doing important jobs and getting a decent wage for it. Until the average MP salary exceeds the 100k p/a that I think is enough for anyone, I’m not going to whinge.

    04 Nov 2006, 09:59


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