Monday, June 29, 2009

MPs’ second jobs are a categorical imperative

If a man will not work, he shall not eat.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, your Grace, you are wrong when you say MPs do not work at weekends. They have endless constituency engagements at weekends; always on Saturdays and often on Sundays, too.

29 June 2009 at 09:06  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Anon (9.06),

His Grace does not normally respond to anonymice, but your erroneous comment is the first and so shall receive undue prominence all day.

If you read His Grace's article properly, you would see that he clearly said that there are a myriad of things to do ('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 nothing that they might be compelled to do.

29 June 2009 at 09:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding to my comment, Your Grace, and giving me such undeserved prominence.

MPs may not be compelled to do these things, but it is expected of them by their constituents. If they don't do these things, they will not get re-elected.

Where I do agree with you is where you imply that local councillors and social workers could and should do much of this work.
But we live in the world as it is, not as it should be.

29 June 2009 at 09:35  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Money grubbing MPs. A situation that will only get worse. Especially more so because of the decline in the church which was the foundation stone of EVERYTHING that it was supposed to be.

Stories like this (see below) would merit more attention for me rather than looking after the interests of MP's part time jobs of one's favourite pig trough, your Grace.

Britain is no longer a Christian nation, claims Church of England Bishop.

Britain is no longer a Christian nation.

Britain 'knows little about Bible'.

29 June 2009 at 10:11  
Anonymous Orwellian Prophet said...

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.

I agree that it is both fair and desirable for MPs to have other business interests. Being actively involved outside Parliament adds to their experience and skills. One can only hope that their motives are directed towards the good of the nation and not entirely selfish.

Most MPs are elected for the duration of a Parliament. By my reckoning that's a 5 year contract of employment which is jolly good going in these uncertain times. Therefore I appeal to your Grace to look prayerfully upon the poor old Proles working all the hours God sends, having to consume with profound gratitude any pies they have, and likely to be out of a job at any time.

29 June 2009 at 10:52  
Blogger Newmania said...

This is a ruse for New Labour to invent "Corridors of power" as ,long ago , Desperate Harold Wilson did. Orrible ‘arman justifies it by reference to a job but it is not a job. It is a heart a ritual function by which the political will of a Constituency is represented . If it was a job then it would be quite unreasonable to take the political views of the applicant into account as in any other job .

Perhaps more functionally important is the effect this will have on the future intake which will be exclusively middle ranking public Sector professionals . quite how this is representative of the country I am unsure .

29 June 2009 at 10:56  
Blogger Theo said...

What a pity that so many of them are lawyers and other professional wordsmiths whose day job it is often to misrepresent the truth by manipulating their audience with their rhetoric.

We need more men and women used to the reality of daily living whose yes is yes and no is no.

29 June 2009 at 11:12  
Blogger Gnostic said...

An excellent post, Your Grace.

More scorched earth policy. WTF is the Opposition doing about it? Are they going to sleepwalk through this BS policy like they did the Miliband's scientifically bogus, financially crippling energy bill?

And the reason for not rising up and slaughtering them all is...?

29 June 2009 at 11:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

I accept that MPs should have other work. There is no substitute for experience of the ‘real world’.

True the electorate is their ‘ultimate employer’ but that also means we are a long-way down the food-chain (ultimate) – and in the end we get to be their ‘employer’ for one day. What kind of employer is that? Why that is no employer at all.

However, the electorate is perplexed. Why do we need part-time politicians? Parliament has sub-contracted its sovereignty to the EU. About 80% of laws emanate from the EU. Parliament cannot alter EU legislation. It either accepts it all or rejects it all. It can debate EU legislation until Hell freezes over – it has no power to change it.

29 June 2009 at 11:55  
Anonymous Joe said...

As Mr A.Daley would say of an MP's job "A nice little earner". & of course they should keep a second job going, if only to keep their feet on the ground & finger on the pulse. unfotunately the only ones that come from the 'working classes' are the hard left halfwits who have managed by fair means or usually foul to work their tickets Like the ignorant & inept Mr Prescott, not a good advert for the ordinary honest worker who wishes to work the common good of the country.

29 June 2009 at 12:11  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I'm sorry Your Grace, that is about as well informed as saying Clerks in Holy Orders only have to perform the Eucharist once a week and other occasional offices. And they get a free house (or even a palace) exempt from council tax, generous mileage allowances, a job for life, and a fairly generous pension scheme [and good after death benefits too ;o)].

The argument for making ministers of religion have other 'real world' jobs is far more compelling than for politicians.

29 June 2009 at 12:14  
Anonymous non-mouse said...

Strikes me D. Singh is on the right track here, as usual. And in light of Your Grace's: "For all David Cameron’s talk of wanting to cut the number of MPs in Westminster ... " it looks as though we're well advanced with the plan for rendering self-government redundant.

I nearly responded to the Jacko-bean strand by requesting that the Lord forgive some posters; for they know neither what they hear nor what they say: they just don't understand English. However, our native politicians may be more in need of the prayer.

Someone might just take Gnostic up on that slaughter question...

29 June 2009 at 12:53  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

CS Lewis, I think, came up with a sound argument as to why men like Montesquieu (query) are able to stand against the tyranny of the State. They have their own gardens from which they take food and are thus not beholden to the State.

29 June 2009 at 13:15  
Blogger McKenzie said...

It would be unchristian to slaughter them, but Christianity is out, so I would be fascinated about the argument against such a delightful plan.

29 June 2009 at 13:32  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Well no wonder they all have other jobs there is nothing much for them to do now that all the action takes place in Brussels!

As I read an article about sharia law being more prevalent than ever in this country it would be better if MPs got some backbone and did something about putting a stop to this nonsense instead of taking on second and third jobs, not that I begrudge them a second job if they do the one we are paying them for properly.

29 June 2009 at 14:02  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I find it painful living in this country experiencing the ebbing away of all our culture and values and the casual acceptance of stone age laws taking over alongside idiot rulings from faraway countries that one can do nothing about whilst watching our Mps frolic around without a care in the world doing umpteen jobs to make sure they are alright jack whilst other equally qualified people have no job!

29 June 2009 at 14:20  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Marie 1797 is right to be concerned. I am not a ‘fan’ of leftwing lawyers however it may concern the few patriotic MPs that we still have left in the House of Commons the following alarming report about what the EU is planning for us.

29 June 2009 at 14:41  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

The Russians have a word for what Brown and his cronies are up to - a maskarovka or smoke and mirrors act.

I've got no problems with my local Tory MP earning money outside his MP's job. It hasnt cramped his style as an MP; he's always responsive to letters which are thoughtful and constructive. My friends in the next constituency a mile away get little from their New Labour MP. All they get is a postcard acknowledgement from this apparatchik.

How long Lord, how long!

Perhaps Your Grace could put a count-down on your blog to show the maximum number of days left in this parliament.

The next election is going to be the dirtiest ever, with this vicious government pulling every string, spinning like crazy to prove that you can fool all the people all the time.

29 June 2009 at 16:44  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I dont think the public mood is for second jobs your grace , people are angry that our great and good who have lorded our lives now find it so difficult to answer even the basic of questions on the economy with any truth . Why should we trust what they say on the need for outside jobs ??.

your grace is making a further point if you re jig the figures that they recieve £200 per day no matter what , wether on holiday for 2 months recess ot not .

The formalisation of mps work would probebly be disastrous , but equally the job of an mp left to open to interpretation is not to the publics liking , as they can tell we hurled into dire circumstances by the very people ,who have been dishonest with our money and democracy .

your grace also misses the considerable ammount of party activity that mps do and the all to unfortunate london game of being in the loop.

I do not want mps who are ignorant and have not understood what it is like to suffer the polices they make , i do not want them to be devoid of outlook and sense of constituancey and country .

If an mp wishes to diversify into a business or charitable board position , then they should either not recieve any money for it , or stand down to take up the position .

John Mann has been making much about the contact list that enables an MP to gain second jobs , what he omitts is that complex socialist constructs that ensure labour appointess in quangos are untouchable .

low cost politics with accountable politicians is the most sound model i can think of, i have no idea why they fight over who has corrupted it , when they clearly have all attempted it.

29 June 2009 at 18:37  
Anonymous Bethel said...

Your Grace
At least if they don't have second jobs they might begin to wonder what it is like to have to count their pennies to pay their electric bill.

29 June 2009 at 20:26  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace,

Forgive my haste when addressing a man of the cloth... but

Of course MP's should have outside jobs- otherwise we will end up like the SOVIET UNION in which a political class is totally separate and uncaring about the ruled class.

Also regarding rebel saint’ view that Ministers/ Priests should have another job alongside that of the ministry :

A good Minister or Priest will be active in the local community and will therefore understand about the needs of his/her flock, without having to do another job- indeed many Priests /vicars/rectors/ministers/ pastors will have had previous experience of life outside of the ministry before they felt they were being called - Our very own Rector in Lavendon is a testament to that, yes she understand the many parishes in which he attends to the needs of the flock.... or to go back into time , just ask the 2nd Duke of Lavendon on his encounter in the 1100s with a certain well known monk from Shrewsbury abbey...

29 June 2009 at 21:07  
Blogger UKViewer said...

Your Grace,

Since many of the citizens of the realm are required to do two or more jobs just to make ends meet, due to taxation and burdonsome money grabbing by Government. It is time for radical change.

I believe that Members of Parliament should do it unpaid, as a charitable act, having had a Noble and wealthy birth, or have made a career in industry or commerce, where they become affluent and self supporting, having been lightly taxed on the way up.

This measure would restore a degree of sanity to Parliament and take it back to its great days.

The only New Labour in sight, would be those who have made a success of socialism and have clawed their way up the slippery pole from their working (or middle) class roots and are grateful for the opportunity to serve the nation and to join the club.

29 June 2009 at 21:08  
Anonymous Katy said...

UKViewer - people died in the fight to get MPs pay, you know. It was done so as not to prevent the masses from standing for Parliament.

But, I suppose you could introduce a 'means - test'. That would solve it.

29 June 2009 at 23:12  
Anonymous not a mouse said...

Katy - But the electorate no longer has access to the stadium; no team represents us on the playing field; and the goal posts have disappeared from sight.

I don't see why we should pay anything to euro-minions. So what about a "How will you re-appropriate Britain?" test, instead?

30 June 2009 at 00:41  
Blogger Dave J said...

I couldn't agree more, Your Grace. I worked for a state legislature in the US, which sat only a few months out of the year, and almost all of whose members had "real jobs" (the exceptions were more retired than independently wealthy). While they were obviously far from perfect, they went back to their districts and had to actually live and work under the laws they passed. These were not their "second jobs": being a legislator was. There's something to be said for that.

30 June 2009 at 23:54  

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