Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mps hitting pay dirt and why we may never be safe again

Mps could be in for a cash windfall following recommendations made by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) that their pay should be given a pay rise of up to £20,000.

Actually it is thought IPSA will plump for a £10,000 rise instead, big of them don’t you think? Unless you happen to be one of the millions of people who haven’t had a pay rise since the big crash of 2008, in which case you will have ground your teeth to powder before reaching the end of this sentence.

If a £10,000 pay rise for MPs seems like a slap in the face then their own assessment of what they deserve is more like a punch on the nose. According to a survey conducted in January most MPs think their not ungenerous £66,000 salary should rise to £83,000, a considerable number of the members polled think it should be raised to £100,000.

John Bercow, a man who was only made Speaker because a dying Labour government though doing so would annoy an incoming Conservative one is said to be ‘sympathetic’ to their demands. This just about shows his worth as a parliamentarian, and it’s a lot closer to a handful of tarnished pennies than £100,000.

I am well aware there are many MPS who, though it is sometimes a struggle to believe it, who aren’t in politics for the money. Their motivation is serving the people and advancing democracy, what a pity their voice has been drowned out yet again by pinstripe clad piggies squealing to be given a bigger trough.

It’s that man again; Eric Joyce I mean, the former member for Falkirk has been arrested following an ‘altercation’ with staff at Edinburgh airport.

A spokesperson for the airport said Mr Joyce had become ‘abusive and confrontational towards airport staff and police’ during a row over a lost mobile phone. He is due to appear in court at a later date.

I don’t doubt Mr Joyce has his demons to battle, but isn’t his behaviour becoming more than a little tiresome?

Being suspended from the commons for fighting in one of its many bars may be a cry for help and he deserved a measure of sympathy; screaming airport staff earning the minimum wage takes him into the territory of the unregenerate yob.

Any sympathy towards him has long since curdled into boredom, it is more than high time he went away and didn’t come back until he’s grown up.

David Cameron says the government is going to focus on ‘big picture’ issues and not waste any more time squabbling about Europe or gay marriage. Meanwhile Nick Clegg says that he cannot ‘envisage any circumstances’ under which the coalition will come to an end before the next election.

They might hate each other but they’re going to stay together for the sake of the children, I mean the voters; anyway they’re not going to split up, honest, fingers crossed. I can just imagine the tense silences around the cabinet table punctuated only by the rustling of David’s newspaper and an occasional martyred sigh from Nick.

This, future historians will note, is the moment when the coalition entered its Terrance Rattigan era. A stage of British political history marked by well spoken people sitting stoically in drawing rooms as they seethe internally with rage and resentment, like a bad marriage the coalition will stumble held together by a rope of mutual dependency.

I can see the closing scene of Act Two now as the doomed pair sit in a chintz crowded drawing room.

“Would you like some more tea David?”

“No, I think I’ll go to the study and smoke a pipe before bed.”

The clock ticks, dust settles and as the curtain falls two great parties trundle a few seconds closer to political oblivion.

The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on a suburban street in Woolwich South London almost defies words. Most of the millions that have been written about it seem trite, a hardly adequate response to the horror of what happened.

The best I can do is to add the following observations.

It is heartening to see that moderate Muslims, the majority despite what the tabloids would have us believe, have been quick to disown the actions of two deluded extremists. No faith tells its followers to go out and kill, it is individuals who pull triggers, set off bombs and use knives with deadly intent; god has nothing to do with it.

This might not be the first atrocity recorded by ‘citizen journalists’, it is though the first where the participants have played up to them. One of the defining images of Wednesday’s outrage was that of one of the murdered telling people recording events on their mobiles that this was a response to crimes committed by the west in ‘Muslim lands’ as blood dripped from his hands.

It was noting of the sort; attacking and killing an innocent man isn’t a political act; it is murder pure and simple.

This is though a very special sort of murder, one that combines the violence and self justification that has been the signature of malcontents down the ages with a thoroughly modern taste for showing off. They may have been dangerously deluded on every thing else, but the perpetrators were chillingly right about one thing; after this we will never be safe again.

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