MPs’ Expenses Row: There’s tough economic questions in this
Many MPs seem bemused by the wave of public anger that has consumed them in recent days. Here’s a simple statistic that might enlighten them. Median income in the UK is around £20,000 pa; MPs earn around £65,000 pa. And as the new Touchstone pamphlet shows, many middle earners have seen their relative income growth stall and their job status decline in the last two to three decades.
£65,000 is simply a salary beyond most people’s imaginings. The notion that you would then want to top this up with elaborate expense claims seems greedy beyond belief.
Personally I’m a strong supporter of constitutional reform. But I’m also increasingly convinced that the disengagement and cynicism that plagues our poitical system won’t be fully resolved until we answer some hard questions about growing income inequality and the changing nature of the UK economy over the last three decades.
As David Marquand put it eloquently in a Guardian piece on Tuesday: what lies behind much of the public anger is the collapse of the post-war social contract whereby citizens offered the state their loyalty in return for jobs, rising living standards and social protection. I’m afraid it will take a lot more than fixed term parliaments to re-build that contract.