A few weeks ago, David Cameron tried to look all tough and beefy. He said that he disagreed with two of his nutbar party colleagues, and then he threatened to cut Ministers’ salaries in a potential Tory cabinet by ‘up to 25%’.
Turns out that ‘up to 25%’ means ‘5%’, which is pretty much neither here-not-there – not enough to satisfy the politician-hating masses, and yet enough to annoy the senior Tory MPs who have a sense of entitlement (and who’ve been agitating for an increase in their salaries).
In fact, it seems to have been greeted as a bit of pointless populism. We should always remember that when Dave actually did have a job outside the Westminster village, it was in PR. If you thought Blair was a greasy shyster with a flair for the populist, Cameron will live up to his promise to ‘be the new Blair’. And then some.
At the same time, he’s suggested cutting ‘subsidies’ in the Parliamentary canteens. This will affect MPs not at all (they will get expenses, see), but will hit everyone else who works there. And the ‘subsidies’ don’t come from the public purse, as much as from the sale of goodies to tourists and visitors.
The other idea is to cut the number of MPs by 10%. This will apparently help cut the bill of running parliament by 10%. Not sure it will, not without affecting things to the detriment of constituents. If your MP takes a while to get back to you now, he’ll take longer because there are 10% more people on his patch. MPs will be slightly more remote from the public – not closer – and the ‘payroll vote’ (made up of MPs in the government from Cabinet Ministers down to junior ministers and PPSs) will be a greater proportion. It’s not actually a step forward for democracy.
At the same time as reducing the number of MPs, he wants to cut the Electoral Commission. What do the EC do? Well, amongst other things, they are the non-partisan body that sets electoral boundaries. So, just as he wants to give them more work – redraw practically every constituency boundary in the UK – he wants to cut the resources to do it. Genius.
Cameron is either a fool, or he’s trying to fool the public.
Oh, and after weeks of dithering about Alan ‘on rations’ Duncan and his grubby comments? He gets sacked? Not really. Just demoted to shadow prisons minister, a job that he apparently relishes, and replaced by Sir George Younger. Who was supposed to be chairing a fairly important committee on MPs salaries and expenses.