Thursday 11 July 2013


The on-going row over Labour funding by the unions and their constant and quite correct haranguing of the Conservatives and their big-ticket donors isn’t going to die any day soon. It’s an established principle that the paymaster calls the tune and no amount of naysaying will ever change that. Both parties may as well incorporate contributors’ logos in their literature and feature a ten-second sponsor’s ident at each end of their party political broadcasts. Maybe they could all wear a sort of uniform, so we know? At least then all our MPs would look like touring sports teams instead of the bags-of-shite way some of their mothers dress them. (No open-top bus rides, mind.)

Add to this the announcement of MP pay rises (whether they jolly well want it or not!) and the earning of second incomes and it’s no wonder nobody trusts the political class any longer. There has to be a fair way and neither side has any workable solution – that is, no solution that finds favour with their opposite numbers. It’s almost as if – and I know I’m going out on a limb here – it’s almost as if they are not working for us at all but simply behaving like NHS senior administrators and seeing how quickly they can divvy up the big, luxury pie amongst themselves and their mates.

The thorny question of paying for our representation in Parliament isn’t a new issue at all; it has always been recognised that men of independent means don’t necessarily have dispassionate principles and bought men are ever mindful of their owners’ demands. Well, in a parliamentary democracy are we not the owners? Isn’t it about time we fitted the muzzles, tightened the leash and brought them to heel? I have a number of suggestions that could revolutionise the way our politicians are bought and paid for.

Some say pay MPs from the collective public purse. I say pay from the individual purses of the public. Instead of scrawling your X on the ballot paper, I propose a far more direct form of selection. A fiver a vote and MPs selected every year. This is how it works: in a scheme adapted from Lapland, all MPs and their rivals gyrate at poles in the polling hall (see what I did there?) and voters deposit a fiver in the g-strings of their favourite. The one with the most money at the end of the day wins and that’s their annual salary, right there. The losers have to donate their takings to pay for the NHS.

The PiƱata Poll. Every year on College Green, Andrew Neil presides over the annual party funding event, whereby a gigantic paper donkey (or donkeys - I’m not ruling out spreading the joy) stuffed with £50 notes is beaten with sticks by blindfolded members of the lower chamber, egged on by their ennobled elders. Each Party collects as much as it can and the one with the largest haul forms the next year’s government. What they have in their pockets is the year’s budget and the losing parties are responsible for coughing up the costs of Parliament

Now, I realise that each method proposed is likely to result in hung parliaments or frequently changing leaders but I see that as more of a positive. While MPs are diverted by scheming to get the lion’s share of the next funding exercise, grubbing around like the pigs in shit they all repeatedly demonstrate themselves to be, the Civil Service can get on with the job of running the country, largely free from party interference. The resulting period of stability might just be what the country needs.

Monster Raving Loonies at Annual Spending Review

How do we fund the costs of the Civil Service? Well, who can forget the glorious sporting highlight of 1987? Let me remind you – June 1987 was the date of It’s A Royal Knockout. Let’s resurrect that format and then the whole country can laugh along as the Health, Education, Defence, Foreign and Home affairs teams slug it out to share the loot. It will be just like the good old days, except perhaps for Stuart Hall.

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