Why the ‘best people’ make the worst MPs
The only way the 'best people' will become MPs is if we raise their salary. That's the main argument you hear in Westminster, from MPs and not a few journalists, for the 11% pay rise being proposed by Ipsa.
It is an argument which reveals a great deal about those who make it.
It could only be made by those who have no understanding of class. This is what happens when you strip out class consciousness from politics.
The idea that the 'best people' – I'm not going to stop putting it in apostrophes – are those who earn top salaries reflects a managerial view of politics. It's the type of view which emerges from an academic culture which provides courses in the 'science of government', a discipline so absurd and reductive it's no wonder it never produces anything of note.
This view of the world tends to see humans as nodes in a machine which could all be very productive and happy if everything is lined up appropriately for optimal outcomes. It has no conception of power relations.
Society is a battle of competing aims and needs by players and self-identifying groups who are grossly unequal in relation to each other, most significantly by access to resources.
An MP's job is to represent their constituents in parliament. A man on a six figure salary is manifestly unable to do so. He does not experience their troubles. He is not one of them.
The idea someone can represent people while being detached from their daily life is so poverty stricken as to be embarrassing. It's shameful that so many relatively intelligent figures are happy to promote it.
This conception of the 'best people' sees only businessmen, lawyers and the top tier of public service management as candidates. In its world view, bricklayers, shop stewards and teachers could never be the 'best people'. If they were the 'best people' they would earn more.
The 'best people' run firms, eat lunch in hotels. They do not provide public services, or work with their hands, or live in the communities which are to be managed by their betters.
This is what an absence of class consciousness does to people. It deprives them of an understanding of society and of representative democracy. Worst of all, it grossly simplifies their idea of talent and ability.
Boosting MPs' pay won't get us the 'best people'. It will just get us more senior managers.
Highly paid, aloof, and divorced from the people they serve: these are the MPs we are creating. The higher the salary, the fewer working class accents you'll hear in Westminster.