Why Labour MPs should be a on a worker’s wage

By Ella Thorp, Newcastle Momentum member and student nurse

MP’S WAGE £74,000

At the Northern (North East and Cumbria) regional Momentum conference in Newcastle in December, members passed policy for mandatory reselection of MPs – but rejected a motion I proposed for “workers’ MPs on a worker’s wage”.

Disagreement focused on the call for Labour MPs to take only a skilled worker’s wage (about £35,000, the motion said) and give the rest to the party.

Some arguments used against:

“MPs should get paid more because they work away from home”

But MPs get expenses to cover travel, extra housing costs, etc. – on top of their wage. Lots of workers work away from home and don’t get paid three times the average wage as a result!

“MPs work long hours”

Some do, some don’t! But again, lots of people work long hours. This is not an argument for MPs to be paid, not a decent, comfortable wage, but one that gives them a highly privileged lifstyle.

“People have worked hard to be MPs”

Do MPs work harder than most workers? Obviously we want workers to have higher pay, but using “hard work” to justify huge salaries is the same sort of argument used to justify corporate fat cats. At the same time, we shouldn’t want to encourage careerism – surely we don’t want people to become Labour MPs because they want to get rich.

“It will put off cleverer/skilled people”

The assumption there is that all clever and skilled people already earn a lot more than £35,000. Not a good assumption!

At a time when working-class people see politicians as a breed apart, we should be seeking to break through that by standing workers as candidates. Part of that could be saying that our candidates will not accept a lifestyle that separates them off from those they represent and makes them part of a different world, and will use resources to help the movement instead.

We should continue to argue for this.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

From 2009

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