“It's going to be very hard to get poor men and women to stand for Parliament under the new rules that forbid additional incomes from directorships and consultancies”, says Shirley Williams. Oh no it isn't. Take someone who's currently earning £20,000 and tell them they can be an MP on £65,000 plus expenses, and they'll become an MP.
In fact we should identify a whole cohort of people who currently earn £20,000 or less and give them the necessary training, coaching and encouragement to stand for Parliament. It's long past time when intelligent and able people who just happen to be unemployed or on low pay are elected to Parliament. Maybe even some retired people and pensioners.
Shirley Williams thinks MPs should be paid the same as doctors and heads of secondary schools. They shouldn't be even be paid the same as the heads of Primary schools or senior teachers. Any old twat can, and often does, become an MP. They possess no professional knowledge, and they're not required to exercise any professional judgement. All they have to do is traipse through whichever lobby the party whips tell them to go through.
The only way we'll ever get a cohort of MPs who aren't afraid of the whips and can exercise independent judgement is if we get people in the House that aren't reliant on politics as a career path, and aren't afraid to go back to being 'poor'.
MPs don't even have to turn up and sit in the Chamber. Those green benches are almost empty almost all of the time. And don't tell me that “poor people” wouldn't be prepared to work hard on behalf of constituents. What makes anyone think that wealthy MPs really give a shit about helping their constituents, or do anything other than hand constituents' problems over to useless and apathetic minions in their office, which has been my experience.
Someone on Any Answers pointed out that our politicians are already the highest paid in Europe. They're just greedy bastards.
It was interesting, though, that Baroness Williams and other members of today's Any Questions panel were strongly of the view that the MPs that have cheated, lied and fiddled their expenses and 'flipped' homes in order to avoid capital gains tax, should have been up before a court before now, and banged to rights. So how much salary do the likes of Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith really deserve?
One of the callers to Any Answers reminded us that it's only a week since the government rejected in its entirety the expert opinion of the Cambridge Primary Review, and now they've done the same thing to its own advisory body on drugs, and sacked its head, Sir David Nutt, because he dared to express his disappointment at the government's decision.
I'll say it again – this government is just an arrogant bunch of twats - and absolute power has corrupted them absolutely. Plus they have no idea how to govern with respect for those they are supposed to serve, let alone show any grace, humility and intelligence as they go about their work, which of course would be far too much to expect.They dont even have enough intelligence to do things in ways that don't make them look like an arrogant and corrupt bunch of twats.
Nutt was forced to quit after he accused ministers of "devaluing and distorting" the scientific evidence over illicit drugs when they decided last year to reclassify cannabis from class C to class B against the advice of the ACMD.http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/31/david-nutt-drugs-adviser-sacked
Nutt told the BBC today that Brown had "made up his mind" to reclassify cannabis despite evidence to the contrary.
"Gordon Brown comes into office and, soon after that, he starts saying absurd things like cannabis is lethal... it has to be a class B drug. He has made his mind up.
"We went back, we looked at the evidence, we said, 'No, no, there is no extra evidence of harm, it's still a class C drug.' He said, 'Tough, it's going to be class B'."
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Nutt said: "He is the first prime minister, this is the first government, that has ever in the history of the Misuse of Drugs Act gone against the advice of its scientific panel.
"And then it did it again with ecstasy and I have to say it's not about [me] overstepping the line, it's about the government overstepping the line. They are making scientific decisions before they've even consulted with their experts.
"I know that my committee was very, very upset by the attitude the prime minister took over cannabis. We actually formally wrote to him to complain about it," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if some of them stepped down. Maybe all of them will."