The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), that well-known Astroturf lobby group that fraudulently claims to be a “grassroots” organisation, and which also claims to be “non-partisan” even though it co-sponsored the recent Conservative Renewal Conference at Windsor, hosted by the local Tory Party, has been sticking its bugle into the debate on MPs pay. And once again it has been misleading.
More guff from Tufton Street
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has today published a consultation document on what MPs receive in pay and pension entitlements. But hardly had the copies been distributed than the TPA’s appallingly humourless CEO Matthew Sinclair had denounced it, telling “IPSA’s proposed pay hike for MPs is totally unpalatable”.
He goes on: “The idea of hiking MPs’ pay when everyone else has been suffering such a squeeze on their earnings is totally unpalatable. MPs do an important job and work hard, but they already earn nearly three times the national average and more than most of their European counterparts”. You wouldn’t know from Sinclair’s frothing that IPSA has only launched a consultation.
And, as for the “more than most of their European counterparts”, what MPs earn in the UK is less than their opposite numbers in Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Greece, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark (and, for comparison, far less than the equivalent job in Canada, Australia or the United States). So the usual TPA sleight of hand, then.
Moreover, as Sinclair admits, but tucks away towards the end of his prepared statement with the obligatory TPA pejorative term “gold plated” to accompany the subject, MPs’ pensions would be less generous under the IPSA proposals. And none of the changes would take place until after the next General Election, so even if they were approved, would still be two years away.
What Sinclair and his fellow non-job holders do not seem to understand is that the whole rationale of IPSA is to take the question of MPs’ pay out of the gift of MPs. This means that the House of Commons cannot just vote themselves a pay increase when they feel like it. There would also be revision of MPs’ various allowances, which the TPA has conveniently not considered.
Sinclair concludes “I hope that IPSA will reflect on the reaction to their proposals and come back with fresh plans which will be acceptable to the taxpayers picking up the bill”. That would be down to the taxpayers concerned, Matthew. It’s got stuff all to do with you, or indeed any other self-appointed bunch of clever people who talk loudly in restaurants. Nobody ever voted for the TPA.
What you need to remember next time you see the TPA bugle being stuck in.