MPs’ second jobs are a categorical imperative
A logical corollary of which is that if he works part-time, he shall eat only snacks. Or at list go without dinner.
Unless, of course, dinner be on expenses.
There is little that has been more corrosive for politics than the rise of the ‘professional’ politician: those who went to university to read politics, became a political ‘adviser’ or ‘researcher’, made the right contacts to be awarded a ‘safe seat’, and then became a politician. Such people have never held a real job and have never attained a status in the world by which the mettle of their life might be tested. These are not rounded people: they are party apparatchiks – automatons programmed for nothing but being ‘on message’. They are political poodles.
For all David Cameron’s talk of wanting to cut the number of MPs in Westminster, Cranmer would prefer a focus on quality rather than quantity.
Being an MP is manifestly part-time: if it were not, they would have no time to be ministers of state. Yet Labour is ordaining that we now need full-time MPs: moonlighting is to be frowned upon. And so they are rushing through a law which will do for quality MPs what the Dangerous Dogs Act did for innocent bull terriers: place them under suspicion, subject them to investigation and dedicate them for termination.
Only the poodles, or anything that looks like a poodle, will survive.
But why do we need full-time MPs for a part-time Parliament?
The House rises more than leavened dough, and its kneading troughs have been given over to the pigs. An entire quarter of the working year is dedicated to the summer recess: from July to October there is no debate, no legislative scrutiny and the Executive cannot be held to account. Add in Christmas, Easter, February half-term and Whitsun, and it transpires that MPs get 17 weeks holiday a year. Add to this the fact that Mondays do not start until mid-afternoon, Thursdays are dedicated to Business when most MPs are on their way to their constituencies, the average MP works a three-day week.
That is a three-day week for 35 weeks a year.
Since they do not work weekends, this amounts to a salary of £64,766 for 105 days’ work a year, or £617 per diem (before ‘expenses’).
Of course, there are letters and emails to write, schools and hospitals to visit, children to kiss, speeches to make, dinners to eat and association officers to tolerate and placate. But the reality is that being an MP can involve as little as 29 per cent of a year.
What efficient, cost-effective and streamlined business would demand so little of its employees?
And the devil makes work for idle hands.
Unless MPs seek to meddle in the affairs of local councillors or supplant the delicate functioning of social services, it stands to reason that MPs must be permitted to work at a second job. And a third and a fourth if they so desire. Since they may be out of a job at any time, it is only fair that they should be permitted to keep fingers in pies, toes in the water and have other strings to their bow. And if their commitment to their constituents or their parliamentary duties suffer as a result, it is for the electorate – their ultimate employer – to dismiss them.
An MP without a second job is one step closer to irrelevance. Anything that seeks to diminish the life experience of the legislature diminishes Parliament, and a diminished Parliament diminishes the people.