Politics

It costs £34,000 to become an MP. No wonder they expect higher pay

If our parliamentarians complain about their pay, that's partly because of how expensive it is to join them

16 August 2014

9:00 AM

16 August 2014

9:00 AM

Mark Simmonds has been in politics long enough to know not to expect much sympathy from his constituents. He resigned as a Foreign Office minister this week because his £89,435 ministerial salary was not enough — at least, not enough for him to keep a family home in London. Many of those who live and work in the capital may sympathise with this struggle, but hearts will not be bleeding in his constituency, Boston and Skegness, where the average wage is £17,400. So he is not seeking re-election, and will leave politics next year.

Simmonds was one of the lucky ones. He managed to find enough money to make it into parliament in the first place, which many would-be MPs cannot. Research conducted by the ConservativeHome website suggests the price tag just to enter parliament is £34,400 — when you count travel, forgone salary and the other costs of a long quest for office. Victors can offset this personal investment against a £67,060 MP’s salary, three times the national average. But defeated candidates can expect to limp back to normal life with a big hole in their pockets.

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls
Former Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds Photo: Sunday Alamba/AP/PA Images

You don’t need to be stinking rich to stand for Parliament in Britain. But it helps. Even wooing a constituency association to be chosen as a candidate carries considerable costs: one Labour candidate spent £5,000 just to get to this starting block. Given that many MPs are expected to stand in unwinnable seats before progressing to safer prospects at later elections, the real cost of eventually making it to Parliament can be even higher. This is fine for the 87 per cent of new MPs who were on more than the London average salary (£33,800) before entering politics, or for those with wealthy family members who can help out. But it is, in effect, a financial bar on average earners with average assets.


Just over half of MPs took a pay cut to enter the Commons in 2010, and this is often cited as an argument for increasing their salaries. But perhaps this statistic is depressing for another reason: it shows what a disproportionate number of our elected ‘representatives’ come from high-earning professional classes. House of Commons library research found that a third of current MPs come from the professions, and a quarter from business. They undoubtedly bring a wealth of experience to the business of lawmaking. But the country surely needs representatives with experience of a different sort: only 4 per cent of current MPs were manual workers before they entered parliament. In 1979, the figure was four times higher.

Becoming an MP takes time, too. Parties understandably set tough targets for their candidates based on the number of days spent delivering leaflets, the visits to by-elections, articles in local papers and so on. Those who consistently fall short face the axe: I understand that the Tories have already sacked one candidate for missing campaigning targets, and Labour’s bigwigs say they won’t hesitate to do the same to anyone on their list. A party doesn’t want to throw resources at a lazy candidate, not least because it bodes badly for their performance in parliament. But the scale of the commitment involved means that you must either have a very understanding employer (which is perhaps why one in six MPs were politicians or political organisers before they entered Parliament) or leave your job.

Take Matt Stephens, a small-business owner, who stood for Don Valley for the Conservatives in 2010, only to lose. The expense, he says, was not as bad as the time spent away from his young family. It was enough to put him off trying again.

Parents in Parliament might sympathise with Stephens’s reluctance to enter the Commons while his children are still in primary school. Even MPs who master the unpopular expenses system still find an absurd amount of shuttling between constituency and Westminster, and any caring commitments are endlessly squeezed. This burden overwhelmed Louise Mensch, who quit Parliament saying she could not ‘spend as much time with my children as I want to’. At least she saw the problems coming: one senior politician I know was heartbroken to learn that, when his son was asked in school whether he’d follow his dad into politics, the boy replied that he couldn’t put his own family through what he had suffered.

All this helps explain why politics can look like a mug’s game to someone who might be sincerely public-spirited, but unwilling to sacrifice everything. Good ministers evaporate in reshuffles simply because their face (or gender) doesn’t fit when the Prime Minister wants to change the look of his government. Why take the risk?

When it costs so much to get into politics, it is no wonder that MPs are derided as an out-of-touch, wealthy elite. The truth is that, nowadays, it’s horrendously difficult to get into Westminster if you’re not from a wealthy elite. As long as that remains the case, parliament will struggle to attract truly representative elected representatives.

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  • Blindsideflanker

    “If our parliamentarians complain about their pay, that’s partly because of how expensive it is to join them”

    That doesn’t explain Simmonds action, for having made the investment to join them he wouldn’t have given it up quite so easily.

    There has been a lot of weeping and wailing at how hard up MP’s are following Simmonds resignation, which have been attributed to many pet causes, none of which stand up to scrutiny, even may I suggest Simmonds own pleadings.

    Simmonds says he is marooned in London doing his Ministerial thing while his family is back in his constituency. Well wasn’t he the idiot to sell his London home, buying 15 acre pile in the country . The circle Simmonds was trying to square , and couldn’t, was wanting a country living while being paid London wages in London.

    We also hear a great deal of how much income MP’s have given up to be in Parliament. As MP’s are paid at least 3 times national average, with lots of opportunities to add some additional earnings to their incomes, I very much doubt these pleadings of righteous poverty. MP’s I believe are very good at telling themselves what stellar careers they gave up , and that they would all be earning in the top 1% , I don’t think so, what we are seeing here is MP’s talking to each other in the Westminster echo chamber, thinking that as all the people they moan to, other MP’s, agree with them, so it must be true.

  • tommy5dollar

    If you think it’s bad being Tory or Labour, you should try getting elected as a Lib Dem.

    • Brandon Lewis

      WHy would you want to do that?

      • tommy5dollar

        *shrugs* some people like cutting tax for workers.

      • steffanjohn

        He’s right though. Toynbee wrote a similar article to this one, and she wrote that potential candidates have to give up six weeks of work unpaid to get elected.

        Any Lib Dem candidate in a marginal would adore to only have to give up such a tiny amount of time.

  • edithgrove

    However, Mark Simmonds did very well as an MP. He feathered his nest and brought home in excess of £150000 per annum. His singular achievement was that his petulant resignation did more damage to the Conservative Party than Baroness Warsi’s, who resigned over ‘principles’.

  • Guest

    When I commuted to London from Portsmouth every day (in a job earning just under the average London wage at the time) the strain of the life led to me and my partner of ten years splitting up. I spent 5 hours+ travelling every day, couldn’t do anything with the evenings in the week, and was knackered at weekends. I didn’t have the luxury of flouncing out of my job to go and do something else, or of moving nearer to work.

    I rent my home and have no particular assets to fall back on should I not be working. I had to stick at it. There are thousands and thousands of people struggling with the same lifestyle imbalance, and worse, in jobs all over the country. It isn’t just a “London thing”, though I note a fair amount of metropolitan hand-wringing going on about the supposedly-unique privations people put up with to work in the capital. In Simmonds’ case the compensations for his hardships do seem a lot more lavish than “the rest of us” ever got for it.

    Simmonds comes across as an arrogant fool, and politics is better off without him. I don’t know why Downing St delayed the resignation (Simmonds’ letter was dated August 4th), but given that they did, why the hell didn’t someone give him some coaching on “appropriate lines to take” in the huge interval before it was made public?

    It makes my blood boil to hear about CCHQ micromanaging PPCs when you look at the elementary mistakes and enormous cockups that emanate from the centre. The management of the Simmonds affair qualifies on both counts.

    • AB

      His resignation was delayed so he could chair a UN Africa committee apparently

  • The permanent political class enriches itself at the
    expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal, yet it is routine among
    kleptocrats. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but kleptocrats
    do so routinely. Kleptocrats also get many hot issues, bypassing all fair
    procedures of distribution. By funneling
    hundreds of millions of dollars or euros to supporters, even more campaign
    donations are ensured. An entire class of investors now makes all of its
    profits based on influence and access to kleptocrats. Keynote Speaker Basil
    Venitis, venitis@gmail.com, http://venitism.blogspot.com

    Kleptocrats have transformed
    politics to trade. They are traders who use their power, access, and privileged
    information to generate wealth. And at the same time well-connected financiers
    and corporate leaders have made a business of politics. They come together to
    form a kleptocratic caste.

    Kleptocracy has clearly figured
    out how to extract wealth from the rest of us based solely on their position
    and proximity to power. If you have a seat at the table, you are in for a
    feast. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the menu. Throw them
    all out! Waiters are mad as
    hell, and they are not going to take this from kleptocrats anymore. That’s why
    they spit on the food of kleptocrats and put live worms on their plates!

    The people in power, the people that are benefiting from
    the status quo, they have no incentive to change it and kleptocrats, of course,
    don’t want to rock the boat. Kleptocrats do not want to do anything that would bring
    out short term pain, even if it produces long term gain. Kleptocrats are not in
    it for the country. They are there to line their own pockets. They want to make
    as much money for themselves. Kleptocrats want to get re-elected and if that means
    they have to sacrifice the country in the process, well that is the sacrifice
    they’re willing to make.

    The only thing that is going to change this, is a crash, a
    crisis which is going to come in the US currency and the US bonds market. Kleptocrats
    are only going to change, when theey have no
    alternative when the circumstances force them to change. Unfortunately by then, the
    problems would have gotten so much bigger, and the pain associated with
    correcting them would be so much greater.

    Political intelligence consultants are hired guns who dig for closely
    held information to be used to trade stocks. Many work for hedge funds and
    securities firms, who just happen to be some of the biggest political campaign
    contributors.

    MPs should be citizen-legislators. Those desiring to serve the public
    would do so for a short period of time and return to their businesses. Instead,
    what has developed is a permanent political mafia, massively enriched by
    cashing in on government experience. Citizens disdain kleptocrats, and this is
    a big part of it. The time has come to lock the revolving door between our
    public and private sectors. And if kleptocrats refuse to do what is right, voters
    should remove them.

    There is an undeniable connection
    between how a government operates and whether its people flourish. When a
    government invites its people to participate, when it is open as to how it
    makes decisions and allocates resources, when it administers justice equally
    and transparently, and when it takes a firm stance against corruption of all
    kinds, that government is, in the modern world, far more likely to succeed in
    designing and implementing effective policies and services. It is also more
    likely to harness the talents of its own people and to benefit from their ideas
    and experiences, and it is also more likely to succeed investing its resources
    where they are most likely to have the best return.

    When a government hides its work
    from public view, hands out jobs and money to political cronies, administers
    unequal justice, looks away as corrupt bureaucrats enrich themselves at the
    people’s expense, that government is failing its citizens. And it is failing to
    create an environment in which the best ideas are embraced and the most
    talented people have a chance to contribute. And it is also denying people
    often access to education, health care, electricity, or a justice system and a
    market economy that work for them.

    And most importantly, that
    government is failing to earn and hold the trust of its people. And that lack
    of trust, in a world of instantaneous communication, means that the very fabric
    of society begins to fray and the foundation of governmental legitimacy begins
    to crumble. Throw them all out!

    As we have seen with the protests
    that have broken out around our world this year, when people are kept away from
    participating in the work of their governments or the actions of their leaders,
    when they have no idea how decisions are made or tax revenues are spent, when
    they have no voice in the political process, eventually they will say,
    “Enough.” And it might have been possible for governments to just refuse to be
    transparent because there were monopolies on sources of information and
    channels to people. But that is no longer the case.

    And we’ve also seen the correlation
    between openness in government and success in the economic sphere. Countries
    committed to defending transparency and fighting corruption are often more
    attractive to entrepreneurs. And if you can create small and medium size
    businesses, you have a broader base for economic activity. At a time when
    global competition for trade and investment is fierce, openness is not just
    good for governance, it is also good for a sustainable growth in GDP.

    Since democracy has been transformed to kleptocracy, we
    have to bypass the rotten system and deal in the underground economy. We could barter, evade VAT and all kind of
    taxes, ignore all licenses, and become untraceable.

    Kleptocrats want to make illegal any
    words or symbols that can be interpreted as threatening a kleptocrat! We’ve heard many kleptocrats and media parrots
    saying that calling a politician socialist is out of bounds. Or that saying a
    government policy is job-killing is incitement. Or that criticism of Big
    Government is responsible for any act of violence by a deranged individual who
    thinks his mind is controlled by the government. The logic of this argument
    suggests that they decide what in politics gets said and how it is said. Throw them all out!

    Too many kleptocrats think that not
    only are they above the law, but above any criticism. Don’t be fooled by any
    calls for civility by kleptocrats. The Left thinks it is necessarily uncivil to
    challenge kleptocracy. Calls for civility are a polite way of saying critics of
    kleptocracy should shut up. Throw them all out! And too many
    kleptocrats suggest that dissident bloggers to shut up or go to jail. Dissident bloggers will not back down in the face of
    this intimidation. Nor should you. You can be sure bloggers and the Global Tax
    Revolt will monitor, expose, and fight attempts by kleptocrats to use the levers of government to trample our
    free speech rights.

    The raging financial crisis made
    restoring trust an imperative. As a result of the lessons learned not being put
    into practice, the world has seen countless examples of trust abused. Trust continues
    to be eroded. Citizens realize that political corruption denies them a voice,
    well-being, and justice. Now more than ever we must bring political corruption
    fighters together to create a more focused effort against the abuse of
    entrusted power.

    People know they can make a
    difference when they come together in sufficient numbers and with a clear goal.
    Citizens, acting in coordination, can more effectively challenge kleptocrats
    that neglect their duty towards them. By focusing on daily lives and concerns,
    efforts toward transparency and the fight against political corruption empower
    people. The fight against political corruption must mean more than the passing
    of new laws. It must mean the practice of transparency in day-by-day government
    activities; and its impact must be felt at every level of society and compel
    citizens to join forces.

    The most vulnerable people in our
    society, often severely affected by corruption, must be able to hold kleptocrats
    to their word, and to expose those who go back on promises. To do so they need
    access to information through a free press, free blogosphere, unfettered internet,
    and other open pathways to inform the public and facilitate the fight against political
    corruption.

    Communities must be given the means
    to hold kleptocrats accountable for their actions in between elections. We must
    develop ways to draw politicians into collective action against political corruption.
    Impunity of kleptocrats who abuse positions of power is the #1 problem of our
    times. If impunity of kleptocrats is not stopped, we risk the dissolution of
    the very fabric of society and the rule of law, our trust in our politics and
    our hope for social justice. Impunity of kleptocrats undermines integrity
    everywhere.

    Whether we are investing collective
    efforts and resources in fighting poverty, human rights violations, or bailing
    out indebted economies, we need to give the people a reason to believe that
    impunity of kleptocrats will be stopped. To take this important struggle forward
    the international anticorruption community should promote greater people
    engagement and find ways to provide greater security for anticorruption
    activists. Reducing impunity also requires independent and well-resourced
    judiciaries that are accountable to the people they serve.

    We call on leaders everywhere to
    embrace not only transparency in public life but a culture of transparency
    leading to a participatory society in which kleptocrats are accountable. We
    call on the anticorruption movement to support and protect the activists,
    whistleblowers, bloggers, and journalists who speak out against political corruption,
    often at great risk. It is up to all of us to embrace transparency so that it
    ensures full participation of all people, bringing us together to send a clear
    message that we are watching those kleptocrats who act with impunity and we
    will not let them get away with it.

    Political corruption affects all countries, especially Greece. Political corruption undermines democratic
    institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental
    instability. Political corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions
    by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating
    bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of
    bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is
    discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to
    overcome the start-up costs required because of corruption.

    Corruption and the lack of transparency eats away like a cancer at the
    trust people should have in their government, at the potential for broad-based,
    sustainable, inclusive growth. Corruption stifles entrepreneurship and siphons
    funding away from critical services.
    Poor fiscal transparency makes it impossible to hold governments
    accountable. And if these problems go on long enough, if they run deep enough,
    they literally can and have been shaking societies to the core.

    Anyone who doubts the power of frustrated citizens to
    rise up need not only look at the Middle East and North Africa, but
    increasingly across the globe because social media has given every citizen a
    tool in order to report and literally post in the matter of seconds the kind of
    abuses that have been, up until now, just taken for granted. So this is an
    integral part of national security.

    We also know that corrupt practices contribute to the spread of
    organized crime and terrorism. They underwrite trafficking in drugs and arms
    and human beings. And we have a major stake in building up partners who can
    work with us to take on these transnational threats and to promote stability,
    who will work with us to champion an international standard of behavior that
    gives more people in more places the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given
    potential.

    Lax U.S. rules and real estate industry’s
    no-questions-asked approach make it easy for kleptocrats to funnel wealth
    through high-end Manhattan apartments.

    One day during Chen Shui-bian’s second term as
    Taiwan’s president, several people lugged what a witness described as six fruit
    boxes into the presidential residence in Taipei. Inside the crates was 200 million in New
    Taiwan Dollars, equal to about $6 million in U.S. currency.

    The cash was a bribe intended for first lady Wu
    Shu-jen, a sweetener encouraging her to prod her husband to provide regulatory
    relief to a securities firm involved in a contested merger. Pulling strings in such situations required
    getting consent from Madam.

    Documents in U.S. District Court in Manhattan describe
    the circuitous path the cash followed after it was unpacked from the fruit
    boxes: First it was stored in a bank vault in Taipei along with other piles of
    loose cash that the first lady described as political donations. Later much of
    the cash in the vault was stuffed into seven suitcases and stored in a basement
    at the home of an executive involved in the corporate merger. After a time, it was moved, in a roundabout
    way, through banks in Hong Kong and the
    U.S. and into a Swiss account controlled
    by the first couple’s son.

    A chunk of that money was wired into an account in
    Miami. Nine days after Chen had
    completed his second and final term as Taiwan’s president — money from the
    Miami account was used to buy a prime piece of a real estate in yet another
    destination in the money’s global odyssey. The property: a $1.575 million
    apartment in Manhattan’s Onyx Chelsea, a glass and metal tower steps away from
    Chelsea Park and Madison Square Garden.

    The movement of dirty money from fruit boxes in Taipei
    into America’s real estate capital illustrates, in vivid detail, one of New
    York’s dirty secrets: High-end New York real estate is an alluring destination
    for kleptocrats.

    New York is among an elite group of destinations —
    along with Miami, London, Dubai and a few other cities around the world — that
    attract large numbers of international property buyers. Manhattan condos are popular with
    kleptocrats. Since 2008, roughly 30
    percent of condo sales in pricey Manhattan developments have been to
    kleptocrats who listed an international address or bought in the name of a
    limited liability company or some other corporate entity, a maneuver often
    employed by foreign purchasers.

    Because many kleptocrats go to great lengths to hide
    their interests in New York properties, it’s impossible to put a number on what
    proportion of kleptocrats from overseas are laundering bribes.

    During his time in office, former Mayor Michael
    Bloomberg was a cheerleader for encouraging the mega-wealthy to relocate to the
    city. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to
    move here?” he used to muse.

  • Tory MP Tim Yeo, a former minister and the present
    chairman of a powerful parliamentary energy committee, is paid to what to say
    in front of his own committee and helps push private business in parliament for cash!

    Cameron says: Corruption is an issue that crosses
    party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes
    the far-too-cozy relationship between politics, government, business, and money.

    Tory MP Patrick Mercer agreed to
    offer a Commons security pass to a fake firm that paid him £4,000 to table
    parliamentary questions. Panorama said Mercer had been approached by a fake
    company set up by the program.

    The fake company, Alistair Andrews
    Communications, had claimed to lobby on behalf of Fijian business interests for
    Fiji to be readmitted to the Commonwealth. The country’s membership was
    suspended in 2009 amid criticism of its human rights record and lack of
    democracy.

    A clip of Mercer being filmed
    undercover has been released by Panorama. It shows the MP meeting an undercover
    reporter, who was posing as a representative of the fake company.

    Mercer can be heard saying: I do not
    charge a great deal of money for these things. I would normally come out at
    £500 per half day, so £1,000 a day.

    The undercover reporter replies: OK,
    fine.

    Panorama said it had paid Mercer
    £4,000 for working two days a month.
    Mercer agreed to offer a security pass for a representative of the
    fictional Fijian client to provide access to Parliament. Mercer offered to set up an all-party
    parliamentary group (APPG) of politicians to consider issues around Fiji.

    Under parliamentary rules,
    politicians are required to declare publicly money that they receive beyond
    their parliamentary salary, but some paid work should not be undertaken at all.
    For example, MPs should not be paid to ask a parliamentary question, table a
    motion, introduce a bill, table an amendment to a motion or a bill, or urge
    colleagues or ministers to do so.

    Parliamentary records show that in
    March, Mercer put down an early day motion – used by MPs to draw attention to
    issues – saying Fiji was making efforts to restore democracy and there was no
    justification for its continued suspension from the Commonwealth. He also asked
    five questions in Parliament about Fiji’s human rights record, UK investment in
    its public transport and the effects of its suspension from, and government
    policy on, its readmission to the Commonwealth. All the questions were answered
    by Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire.

    Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas offered
    access to David Cameron and chancellor for £250,000! There is a video of him making the offer to
    undercover reporters. Cruddas was appointed Tory cotreasurer in June 2011. In the video, Cruddas is discussing what
    access different size donations would get: Two hundred grand to 250 is Premier
    League; what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first
    thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners. You do really
    pick up a lot of information and when you see the Prime Minister, you’re seeing
    David Cameron, not the Prime Minister. But within that room everything is
    confidential, you can ask him practically any question you want. If you’re
    unhappy about something, we will listen to you and put it into the policy
    committee at number 10; we feed all feedback to the policy committee.

    UK’s biggest arms dealer, BAE Systems, bribed
    many billions of pounds to Bandar bin Sultan and other Saudi princes. The
    bribes were made with the full knowledge of the British Ministry of Defense.
    The bribes were discovered during a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation,
    but the SFO inquiry was stopped by the attorney general of UK, under pressure
    from the Royal House of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s sink-in-chief, with the
    twinkling eye and hawkish views, is the spy-in-chief of the corrupt
    kingdom.

    When “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is
    Financed — and How to Stop It” was published in New York, Rachel Ehrenfeld never imagined that attempts to silence her book would
    emanate from London’s High Court. The book contained information from numerous
    reliable open sources on reputed funders of terrorism. Saudi billionaire Khalid
    bin Mahfouz, the former owner of the biggest bank in the Middle East, the
    National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, claimed Ehrenfeld’s book damaged his reputation. That claim was accepted
    by a judge of the High Court, David Eady.

    Saudis consider London the Mecca of libel
    tourism. Saudi princes forced Cambridge
    University Press to pull back “Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the
    Islamic World” by Millard Burr and Robert Collins. There is now considerable
    and worrying evidence that most Saudi charities support Islamist terrorist
    groups and Islamic conflicts across the world.

    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was educated for a
    time in Nazi Germany and his four sisters married black-uniformed SS officers
    (three of them, Sophie, Cecile and Margarita, joining the Nazi party). Philip
    admitted to then having ‘inhibitions about the Jews’ to an American academic
    and feeling ‘jealousy of their success.’ Charles’ great uncle, the abdicated
    ex-King Edward VIII, was such a swastika-waver that MI6 had to banish him to
    Bermuda for the duration of World War Two, thwarting his and his Nazi wife Mrs
    Simpson’s attempts to join Hitler by crossing into occupied Europe.

    Charles’ great grandfather George V was one of the
    three ‘great’ architects of World War One, the so-called ‘Cousins’ War’, four
    years of mindless slaughter that began exactly a century ago. With two more
    Saxe-Coburg Gotha cousins, George’s hapless subjects slugged it out in trench
    warfare with Germany’s Wilhelm II and Russia’s Nicholas II’s unfortunates
    leaving, by 1918, a total of some ten million dead for no discernible purpose.

    When in 1917 ill-mannered soldiers began pointing out
    that German Gotha bombers from another branch of the King’s family business
    were killing them, George V blithely announced that his surname was changing
    from ‘Saxe-Coburg Gotha’ to the more English-sounding ‘Windsor’.

    Even masterpieces like Richard Attenborough’s 1969
    feature film ‘Oh! What A Lovely War’, the BBC’s controversial 1986 drama ‘The
    Monocled Mutineer’ and the poetry of Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, Worcester army
    padre known affectionately as ‘Woodbine Willie’, do not quite reflect the
    futility of the war and the bitterness it stirred up amongst ordinary people.

    Today, despite standing against the Nazis in World War
    Two, Her Majesty’s government and armed forces, who all swear allegiance to the
    Queen, are backing most of the dictators and despots around the world. From
    President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka with the blood of 40,000 innocent
    Tamil civilians on his hands, to King Abdullah’s brutal Saudi regime which
    still practices public beheadings. Charles’ tongue always speaks for the world
    leaders Amnesty International tells us are the bad guys, but he is looking to
    make money with them, whether through real estate or arms.

    In Morgan’s 2012 book ‘Paris-London Connection, The
    Assassination of Princess Diana’, John Morgan says evidence revealed in the two
    police enquiries and inquest suggested the Queen and Prince Charles tipped the
    wink to Britain’s Foreign Intelligence Service MI6, that if Diana were to have
    an ‘accident’ nobody at the palace would mind.

    Keith Allen’s 2011 documentary ‘Unlawful Killing’
    which examines the decade late Diana inquest, proves beyond doubt that her
    death was no accident. But the film has not been shown on TV and been suppressed
    online and in the cinemas by the deep-pocketed royal lawyers. It may never now
    be shown in Britain.

    Charles does not understand, as his mother appears to
    have done, that he cannot have it both ways as Head of State and as a
    politician. Charles’ devil-may-care remarks have invited disdain for him at
    home and for Britain abroad. Ironically, for the man who is proud of his
    Transylvanian ‘Dracula’ ancestry, being descended from the fifteenth century
    despot Vlad the Impaler, they represent one more nail in the coffin of the
    British monarchy.

    The identities of thousands of kleptocrats, offshore
    clients of a major Channel Isles private bank have been leaked. One of the
    recipients of donations is Britain’s financial services minister, Andrea
    Leadsom, who has run into a Cash-for-Office scheme of large offshore donations
    to Tories made by her own family.

    At a time of debate about inequalities of wealth, the
    data leaks reveal how kleptocrats dip in and out of their jurisdiction as it
    suits them, exploiting Jersey’s fictitious space.

    British finance minister David Gauke last year called
    for transparency from users of the tax haven, saying the time has come for
    those with hidden offshore interests to come forward.

    A British government report stated that in the past,
    offshore accounts and other complex arrangements were shrouded in secrecy, so
    some people felt that they could dodge their tax obligations, but those days
    are gone!

    Government ministers launched a scheme for Jersey
    account-holders to make disclosure. They claimed the big challenge the
    authorities face is secret tax evasion, which is a crime.

    The British Chancellor George Osborne announced in
    April: If you’re evading tax offshore, there is no safe haven and we will find
    you.

    But the findings contradict this picture of
    illegality. Many Jersey loopholes used by kleptocrats to pass on their fortunes
    appear from the research to have been perfectly legal. Both the ruling Tries
    and to a lesser extent the Whigs have benefited by political donations from such
    individuals.

    There is no published register of trusts or offshore
    holdings, and the rich appear to have often been able discreetly to avoid
    taxes, particularly inheritance tax, in ways too expensive for smaller people
    to use.

    Children and other beneficiaries may have often had no
    hand in it themselves. The Earl of Guilford, for example, says: I inherited
    money from a deceased relative that was held in an offshore trust. I have made
    full disclosure of this to HMRC, the British tax authorities. You will
    understand that I did not establish an offshore account and was faced with the
    decision as to what to do with this money.

    • whs1954

      Now where did you Ctrl+C+V that from, Lyndon LaRouche? I should point out George V, at least, is not in D Cameron’s Cabinet; the Duke of Edinburgh neither?

    • whs1954

      Oh wait, it turned out to be your potty blog: http://venitism.blogspot.co.uk/

      Wibble! Wibble! Nurse, the screens for Mr Venitis(m)!

  • stephengreen

    Pah! It costs more than that for a degree and a student starting wage is?

  • Lina R

    I had never heard of this Foreign Office minister until his petulant resignation.

  • xDemosthenesx

    Thanks for this Isabel, a more important issue than many realise. With these sorts of disincentives, never mind the vitriol and hatred you get when you finally arrive, is it any wonder that our politics are populated so thoroughly by socio-paths and narcissists? Who else would willingly put themselves and their families through this mincer?

    The problem seems to me to be the lack of open primaries. The investment you talk about is basically to worm your way into a party list to get the machinery behind you. This should not be required, it should only be a requirement to be voted in by local party members – or in the case of an open primary, the voting public.

    It seems an obvious win-win scenario; we get a more diverse range of candidates and the parties get people who connect with the constituencies they are supposed to represent and know how to win votes.

    • cambridgeelephant

      Good Post !

    • steffanjohn

      Most candidates are ultimately decided by the local party members. Open primaries would be even more of a hinderance – instead of campaigning to around 400 people, you’d have to campaign in public to around 40,000.

      Look at how much time and effort potential candidates in the US put into to raise the huge figures needed to win a primary; it’ll soon become an industry in itself, with candidates decided by who can personally raise (or more likely, spend) the most money.

  • Dave Cockayne

    There is an obvious way to increase representation of normal people in the House of Commons, make an MP’s wage equal to the median wage and no expenses. We already have the Lords for the elite class, the Commons should be made up of commoners not the Eton/Oxbridge set.

    • steffanjohn

      Why would working class people be more likely to put themselves forward if the pay drops by two thirds? Especially as, following your ‘no expenses’ rule, they have to pay for the commutes back and forth, have to pay for an additional flat in London, rent an office, staff and run it – as well as another one in London? That’s basically what 95% of expenses are used on.

      • Dave Cockayne

        The median wage in a lot of the country is £17k. 50% get by on less than that and already have long commutes, when they have to travel for work it’s a bnb or travellodge.

        They also don’t get to employ their spouse or kid to take messages for them like MP’s do.

        They also don’t get the taxpayer to pick up the tab for paying the mortgage on their investment property.

        Working class people already have to make do with a lot less than average, the average is a pay rise. To the average person the average is what they are used to but to the Oxbridge types the average is unimaginable poverty and misery.

        Fixing MP’s compensation at the median wage rids us of the elite scumbags we currently have, making room for commoners who notice food inflation hitting them in their own pockets.

        • jammoody

          The average person earning £17k, does not have the same responsibility as an MP.

          Pay is reflective of responsibility. At £17k, the level of responsibility is likely to be much lower than that of an MP.

          Now, with responsibility should come ability of others to remove said person if they do not perform. People should have the ability to replace an MP if they do not meet their needs.

          • Philip Bernard Ion

            If you’re referring to giving people the power to sack their MPs, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. People are very inclined to think with their emotions instead of their heads at times, and I think there’s a real risk that MPs could then end up like football managers in terms of how often they get changed around!

  • KazEconomics

    MPs should not have to commute to Westminster to vote. That would help. And if the state published to the electorate a clear list of only the policies each candidate has contractually committed to supporting, voters could make an educated decision.

  • Simmonds also gives lots of money to charity and claims it back on expenses…
    It doesnt COST anything to be an MP, and most of them dont EARN that high wage that they get…
    The government in this country is a joke, whoever gets into power does NOTHING that they said they were going to do, immediately raise taxes and fucks up our country and economy one little bit at a time…
    And dont get me started on their stance on immigration…

  • I think I’d do well as an MP, and as Prime Minister!
    This country would be a lot better if I was in control…

    Elect Daryl McGarry…spread the word!

  • ManOfKent

    Who else can earn £65,000 a year without being required to have any relevant qualifications at all?

    £34,000 is probably little different to the average University tuition fees bill for those who aspire to a decent job. Medical and legal students can pay much much more.

    MPs need to stop feeling sorry for themselves because few jobs these days allow as much freedom as an MPs does (just ask Malcolm Rifkind)..

  • Alex Sanderson

    It costs considerably more than £34,000 to become a doctor, they get castigated when then ask for extra pay. Sort it out Spectator.

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