Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Chartist wanted payment of MPs

My eye caught a post from the Warwick and Leamington PPC urging a return to the spirit of the Chartists. I too have found my thoughts turning to the Chartists in recent days. Like many teenagers swotting for History O levels/GCSE I learnt a list of the six points of the Charter :
Payment of MPs
Equal electoral districts
annual parliaments
abolition of the House of Lords
universal male suffrage
and one other I can't remember at present
Anyway I learnt the list in Leamington Spa where I went to school and at about the time I was doing my O levels I joined the YLs.
The Chartists championed payment of MPs so as to make it possible for candidates who were not wealthy to enter parliament. Much the same reasoning was used to pay councillors. In truth I doubt either the Chartist or those who wanted more generous allowances for councillors dreamt that things would turn out the way they have. However much we maintain that we deserve our payments and justify them with job evaluation report and independent pay panels the magic ingredient of public approval does not automatically follow.
Every year our allowances are published and folk nod their heads believing that it confirms their view we are in it for the cash.
It is the same with Senior Officer pay. Sefton advertised the CEO job at £150k on the advice of 'independent' experts and no doubt a 'Hay' job evaluation. In recent years there has been mega inflation in Senior Officer's pay. I'm sure we all look at the average pay for Chief Execs and think to ourselves that we want to be a bit above the average and so the average creeps up. And, of course there are officers on hand who sagely tell you that you are doing the right thing. It is only by acting together across local government that we will bring the cost under control. Personally I doubt that there will be a mass exit to the private sector or emigration to Canada.
At least in local government these things are all done in public and not clouded in secrecy-which brings to mind the final point of the Charter-secret ballots.
Interestingly the only 2 points of the charter to be enacted have been payment of MP's(1911) when Lloyd George was Chancellor and the Secret ballot (1872)when Gladstone was Prime Minister.