Saturday, August 11, 2007

Part-time Tories

Interesting article in the FT, exposing how much outside work Tory MPs do:

David Cameron’s front-bench MPs and peers hold more than 115 paid directorships and other outside jobs, in addition to their political roles, research by the FT has revealed.

The sheer scale of outside interests is sparking concern within the party that the Tory “part-timers” lack the discipline needed to defeat Labour.

..........The front bench’s secondary sources of income range from farming and property to consultancies, speeches, journalism and – in the case of Robert Goodwill, shadow transport minister – running a “green” cemetery.

Some activists worry that the number of top Tories doing extra, non-political, jobs means the party is adopting an amateurish approach to attacking Gordon Brown, rather than replicating the focus displayed by Labour in the run-up to its 1997 victory. Almost half the shadow cabinet – 12 of the 27 MPs and peers disclosing their relevant interests – have at least one directorship or other external job

..........Senior Tories admit privately that the opportunity to supplement their £60,675 MP’s salary, plus expenses and allowances, is a factor in accepting outside jobs. “I’m not going to be disingenuous. One of the reasons why people do this is to boost their income,” a shadow cabinet member, who did not want to be named, told the FT. “But you don’t want a political class where all you have is narrow political experience and the only people who can afford to do it are those who are privately wealthy.”

The last remark reveals how far the Tories diverge from the general public. Most voters consider that an MP's salary of £60,675 plus expenses and allowances, to be very generous. Particularly as they get a good pension as well. The idea that it is too low and that you can't "afford" politics on it is extraordinary. As is the belief that the only people who would bother to be an MP on a £60k salary without extra directorships are the "privatly wealthy". Most of the Labour MPs manage on it, and most are not privately wealthy.

If the Tories came to power, the members of the cabinet would have to drop their outside interests, plus they'd have to do a thousand times more work (government is no picnic). Perhaps this is why the parliamentary Tories keep sabotaging themselves. Secretly they want Labour to win, and carry on with the hard work of governing, while they do a bit of token opposition and moonlight.

Tory voters should think hard about this - I'm sure this is not what they intend when they cast their vote. If they want a real opposition, perhaps they should switch to the LibDems?

1 comment:

Political Umpire said...

On the other hand, career politicians with no idea of having to make a living rather than just receive taxpayer's money, aren't my ideal leaders either.