Tuesday, 21 April 2009

What's it worth?

A seat in Parliament, what's it worth? If they were openly sold, what would be a reasonable price? We know they're desirable property. The Labour Aristocracy have just been exposed; Blair's in-laws have been trying to secure a safe Labour seat for a young female relative. There's scandal over which pampered bitch from an all female list of well groomed and connected candidates is to get a safe Labour seat in London, with a ballot box having been forced open and ballot papers destroyed in an internal Labour party election, where the electorate numbers about 280. Something similar happened for Wedgwood-Benn's granddaughter, I think. Have we reached the state where parliamentary seats are accessories for fashionable young women? This is worse than the 18th century situation of rotten boroughs with a handful of electors, in the gift of a powerful landowner; and it's perversely amusing that this passes for normal in what was supposed to be the party that claimed to represent the working class.

A seat in Parliament is the entry point for a career in national politics; and the source of a fortune even for those less ambitious or able to attain ministerial office. Considering that an average MP can collect £200,000 - £250,000 per annum in salary and grossly inflated expenses, and enjoy a wondrously generous pension in retirement, it's no surprise that there's fierce competition for each one - not so much from opposing parties, except in marginal constituencies, but from other would-be candidates of the same party. That's just the start of the opportunities for troughing at the expense of the public. The holidays are extensive, they're now only sitting for 143 days per year it seems; so public service need not excessively obtrude on other opportunities for fun and profit. Any tedious elements can be delegated to researchers or assistants, often relatives, who naturally are paid from the public purse. There's a great wheeze in second and even third homes, financed by the public, which can be rented to one's relatives and assistants, to maximise the take from the public. Travel expenses - a glorious rip-off! Free junketing around the world on 'fact-finding' trips. Cheap food and booze in the Parliamentary restaurants and bars, when they can be bothered to turn up - and it's recently been revealed that they often don't bother to turn up for tedious committee meetings, even when extra payments are involved. The results are fixed, so there's honestly little point in bothering. It's amusing that occasionally the government fails to get it's way on a sub-clause of some tedious legislation, as a result of failure of some of it's MP's to attend, and this causes a little flutter and fluster as the whips nip the heels of the laggards and arrange some extra voting as punishment. Inter-party hobby groups, which can usefully become lobby-groups, especially when well lubricated by free or cheap food and drink, proliferate. Never mind ''let them eat cake'', our porcine politicians are well into the caviar and foie gras.

So, what would be a reasonable market price for a seat in the legislature? Of course the cunning, connected and energetic will be able to use it as a base for influence peddling, especially if they're Labour peers in the House of Lords, as we have recently been shown. It was rumoured, although the Crown Prosecution Service was too myopic to be able to see any evidence worth prosecution, that Blair and Lord Cashpoint were able to give peerages to those whose quite co-incidental and unconnected donations to the Labour party averaged around £1.25 million. On an open market they might have fetched more. I think a seat in the House of Commons could be worth a lot more. Naturally, there's an element of political risk. You can lose your seat at the next election if your party becomes less popular; but that only happens at four to five year intervals. Moreover, in the safer seats an incumbent is unlikely to be disturbed for as long as he wishes to retain the seat, unless his face ceases to fit with what's fashionable at party HQ. Most MP's, I would guess, are reasonably certain of say, a 20 year run. An income stream worth roughly £1/3m per year for 20 years must be worth at least £7m capital investment, especially now that interest rates are so low as barely to exist; and then there's the juicy pension for the rest of your life. Starting prices around £10m, shall we say, particularly as there's a brisk demand for a restricted number of places, and we've hardly touched on the additional social advantages of the position. (This ignores the possibilities for corruptly and directly influencing important legislation - largely because the average MP has very little influence on legislation, nearly always voting as directed by his party. )

Can you think of more deserving uses for £10m or so than giving it to a politician? Ha! Ha! Ha! How many people realise that's what they're doing when they mark an X beside a name on a ballot paper? Now do you better appreciate why 'your' representative pays so little attention to your opinion and so much attention to the orders of his party leader and the parliamentary whips, and to political donors? They can seriously affect his financial and social prospects. The voters can't. Follow the money.

'Man shall not live by bread alone'... even politicians consider more than the money. People love to gossip. Words are important, even if not 'every word... proceedeth from the mouth of God.' Politicians love to make speeches, and to discuss each other's speeches and activities. The commentators also depend on this gossip, so a political class of self important people easily arises. They value themselves very highly, in every way, and expect everyone else to treat them at their own estimation. Even when such people have no real influence on anything important, or when they are only discussing trivialities, they love to argue with each other, to form groups and hold votes, see their faces on television and shout Me! Me! Me! The opportunity to participate in this mutual admiration and criticism society is another important factor that gives worth to the idea of being an MP. This pompous vanity is usually misnamed 'public service'.

To some extent this is natural and normal in getting things done in any organisation, and it is hard to imagine politics functioning otherwise. It becomes perverse when the people who are supposed to be making important decisions, exercising sovereignty on behalf of the public, are no longer doing so. Instead they are gossiping, troughing, failing to review legislation and hold the government to account, failing to represent their constituents in any but the most trivial ways, and most importantly, failing to admit that they no longer exercise sovereignty - which they have allowed to pass to the unelected EU Commissioners. They no longer do anything important. They're a Plastic Parliament. They just do as Brussels tells them. They cover up by carrying on with their self important intrigues and gossiping, drawing the media into collusion with them, to conceal their deceit. This is treason. They think to evade punishment by abolishing the crime of treason. Judas took 30 pieces of silver for his betrayal. Our MP's are much greedier. Judas hanged himself. Our MP's don't expect the option to arise. The more stupid jobsworths among them don't even recognise the situation. They may actually be so dim that they think troughing and tittle-tattle about trivialities is all that there could be to being an MP. They've degenerated into the world of celebrity and show business. Bread and circuses. Sadly, when Parliament becomes a mere fashion parade of egos, concealing their irrelevance and powerlessness from themselves and from the public behind their gossip and troughing, it may be appropriate to treat a Parliamentary seat as a fashion accessory for spoilt women.

When James I was short of money, he invented the title of Baronet, or hereditary knight, and forced affluent people to buy these titles. Now we're short of money again. The title of MP has become a costly bauble - but this time the public is paying affluent people to hold it, as a sinecure. How about turning that around and making MP's pay for it! Ha! Ha! Increase the numbers to say 1,000. Charge £10million each. A slightly different selection of self important prats gets to ponce around in the public eye. Many celebrities could afford it, and don't need the extra troughing. The media would love it. Now the government (basically the civil service behind a fig leaf of politicians) has an extra £10billion, and saves the best part of £100m a year on Parliamentary running costs. Don't waste it all at once. Good media management could turn a nice extra profit from the site (and sight) of Parliament. The public would pay to see their favourite media stars speaking or singing in the Chamber, or attend a party where they get to shake hands with them. The monarchy has been commercialised. Now it's the turn of Parliament. Even if they had to be in government, some of these pop stars and actresses might be no worse than the socialist scum and fools that we have now. They might even be more practical and intelligent! They'd certainly woo and wow the public better than tractor-statistic-gabbling politicians. Political theatre. Blair was basically an actor; perhaps a real actor could better distinguish between lies and truth. Reagan was a mediocre actor, but he made quite a good President of the United States, especially in the ceremonial aspects of the presidency.
A merger between the political and theatrical classes? Many a true thing may be said in jest.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure there are better qualified people to judge but a return of one hundred grand a year is the sort of return you could reasonably expect on a two million pound investment.