How to protest against MPs’ pay rises in 2014…

I wrote a column for the Gloucestershire Gazette about MPs’ pay rises. I was livid. An 11% pay rise proposal when public sector wages are being capped at 1%? That is just plain wrong. So, in December, I wrote a column about it. Here it is for the New Year, below, with a link to the petition you can sign to protest against it. Here’s to a better and more fair 2014…

An increase in MPs’ pay? That’s just daft – The Gloucestershire Gazette – Column – 26th December, 2013

There are times when I do feel daft. You know, those times when you think you understand something, when you believe that everything makes sense, yet actually, the reality is completely the opposite.

Well, welcome to one of these occasions. You see, you may be very aware of MPs and the proposal to increase their pay. This month, it was announced that The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015. Now, while Prime Minister David Cameron calls it “inappropriate”, and Labour leader Ed Miliband requested talks between the party leaders and Ipsa, here’s the thing: neither of them has signed the paper openly opposing the pay rise. A week after Labour MP John Mann tabled an Early Day Motion demanding the increase to be just 1%, in line with the rest of the public sector, only 10 MPs – and not one Conservative – have put their names to it.

And so here’s where I think I’m daft. You see, I would have thought it was absolutely obvious that an 11% pay rise is a ridiculous idea. We are living in tough times. Winter fuel bills are rocketing. All over Gloucestershire, pensioners are struggling to make ends meet. Teachers from Yate to Cam, and Chipping Sodbury to Berkley are paid peanuts. So, on that basis, how on earth could MPs think it was okay to want an 11% increase? I watched an MP on TV justifying the rise by saying politicians work hard, and that, if we want to attract the right caliber of candidate, then we should pay out. Bobbins. Absolute bobbins. What about the teacher? The policeman? The refuse collector? Aren’t they worth something? Don’t they deserve the best pay, too? In the 2013 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the 1% public sector pay cap would be extended to 2015/16. How on one hand can he do this, yet on the other effectively green light an extra 11% for himself? So much for all being in this together.

But, there is something we can do. We can protest. And we must. Because we are not daft to think this is wrong. You can sign an e-petition on the proposal at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk. You can lobby your MP. Speak to them. Because life must be fair, and an 11% rise when others’ wages are being capped? That’s not fair at all.

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