Call Clegg highlights – 11 July 2013: In which the osmosis isn’t working

MPs’ pay

Jim from Tunbridge Wells, a public sector worker was none too impressed with the idea of MPs getting a whacking pay rise. Nick agrees:

We’re trying to keep everybody together if you like and I just don’t think it helps at all in doing that by taking one very, very small but very prominent part of the public, people on the public sector payroll, MPs, and say, look you’re going to be treated completely differently to nurses, doctors, fireman, firewomen, everybody working in the public sector.  I really do think if we’re going to have an approach towards the public sector that everybody has got to be treated as fairly and equally as possible

While Nick won’t take the pay rise himself, he wouldn’t commit to telling our MPs not to do it. I guess to do so would be counter-productive. He did, though, urge us all to respond to IPSA’s consultation, which you can do here.

So, why wasn’t Nick at Centre Court watching Andy Murray on Sunday?

I was slumped on my sofa in my shorts and t-shirt with my kids watching the final so I wasn’t in the box.

Nick Ferrari asked if he couldn’t get a ticket. Nick replied:

No, they very, very kindly offered me one and I’m incredibly grateful to them.  I just sort of thought for a minute, this is a big historic occasion and I actually just wanted to see it with my oldest boy in particular who’s quite a tennis fan.  So I was very keen to watch it with him.  And that’s exactly what I did and then I had the huge honour by the way Nick of meeting Andy Murray and his mum and entourage in number 10 Downing Street just the following day.

And then he went to play tennis:

But you know when you watch tennis and you think that by osmosis somehow you’re going to be better by just having watched this great game.  And you go out thinking you’re suddenly going to be whacking the ball.  In fact you realise you are as rubbish as you were before you watched it.

On Trade Unions

I think trade unions play an incredibly important role in society. In any society, it’s quite rightly the trade unions who represent working me and women and play a big role in all of that. I just actually don’t think it’s healthy for trade unions, never mind our democracy and the Labour party. It’s just not healthy for the trade unions to be seen to basically be the puppet master of one political party.

He reckons Ed’s speech isn’t worth much either

I offered him this. If he really wants to be serious, he should legislate to move from this so-called ‘opt out’ to the so-called ‘opt in.’ So people actually have to make a decision about giving money to the political levy, the affiliation levy, and frankly, to give as John has implied, a trade union the right to give money to other parties if they want to. But if you look in the fine print of Ed Miliband’s great speech, the political fund, which is actually the money that the trade union Barons; and they’re almost all Barons these days, or Baronesses. These men who run the trade union movement; they’ve got this political fund which they can do with what they will. They can give it to the Labour party and there’s actually some analysis which suggests that with the mild non-legislative opt in approach that Ed Miliband is advocating, that fund will get bigger rather than smaller, and more trade union money will flow into the Labour party, rather than less. It’s one of the many, many reasons why I wish we could get a cross-party deal on party funding. We tried. I spent a year and a half sponsoring cross-party talks.

The Tories don’t want it either, but it needs sorting:

The Conservatives don’t want a donation cap and the Labour party don’t want meaningful change to the way in which the trade unions fund the Labour party. So we get this endless standoff. You saw it on display at the Prime Minister’s questions yesterday and I just thinkwe’ve got to get over this endless kind of finger pointing  because all political parties, and I speak on behalf of my own as well; all political parties get damaged at some point in some way by the way in which big money sloshes around in British politics.

On parliamentary bad behaviour

The way in which parliament is organised, the way it looks, the language we use, the way people address each other, it’s just totally off-putting. I think it’s particularly off-putting to young people who think, ‘Hang on a minute. This looks like a sort of different species yelling at each other.’ And I think that where possible, we’ve had some success in recent years and other areas, we’ve haven’t gone as far as I would like. We need to constantly make Parliament look and feel more modern than it can often appear.

On rehabilitation in prison

So what is the sensible thing for us to do as a society? Should we not at the same time, as well as punishing, you’re quite right; also make sure that when they come out of prison, they are unlikely to leave a trail of victims behind them. And I think it’s actually in the interest of victims; it’s a really important point this, Philip; it is in the interest of victims that we make sure that we cannot just put someone away but also change their behaviour.

That’s just some of the best bits. You can watch the rest, including finding out about his favourite shop and which politician he thinks is the most civilised, here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • “And I think it’s actually in the interest of victims …”

    It might even be in the interest of the offenders too. But I don’t suppose today’s politicians can get away with saying that kind of thing …

  • David Wilkinson 11th Jul '13 - 9:35pm

    Of course the so to be ex Lib Dem for Bristol thought it was ok, another Westminster village person totally out of touch with the real world and the pain, misery and suffering imposed by the Tories.
    Even Clegg realises that millions of peole are suffering from the actions of the Quad and the pay rise is an obscenity, when we have cuts in benefits, the rise food banks, evictions, rent arrears, council tax arrears, zero hour contracts, the bedroom tax, the NHS etc.
    Come back Colonel Pride.

  • On the subject of the obscenity, I’ve worked out the pay per constituent of the representatives in six countries in response to someone that was arguing with me in the previous discussion that MPs salaries needed to rise because of the higher salaries of representatives in other countries. Obviously some of these countries have various different forms of government, especially the federations where more of the work is carried out at the member state level, but, nevertheless, our MPs seem to be doing OK, especially as these figures don’t take into account their perks:

    £0.764 UK(proposed increase)
    £0.678 UK
    £0.634 Japan
    £0.583 Spain
    £0.562 Germany
    £0.462 France
    £0.153 USA

  • @peter.tyzack
    “it would be more valid and informative, Steve, if the comparator was with the rate of pay of the Head Teacher, GP, Police Chief, army colonel in the country in question, or the average income..”

    It most certainly would not. A head teacher, for example, is someone with high-level qualifications, a vast amount of experience who has risen through the ranks to take on a job with a huge amount of responsibility and pressure. None of those attributes apply to a back-bench MP. I can’t believe you are seriously comparing a head-teacher to a back-bench MP. 30 years ago MPs received roughly the same as a classroom teacher at the top of their salary scale which, to me, sounds about right in terms of the attribute of both jobs. With the above inflation pay increases of MPs, they now receive twice as much as the teacher at the top of their salary scale.

    Average income is valid. Back-bench MPs currently receive three times the median income and that’s before we even take into account their pension, expenses and severance perks.

  • Note to Mr Wilkinson. The pain, misery and suffering imposed by the COALITION.

    There, fixed it for you.

  • David White 12th Jul '13 - 3:07pm

    Now here’s something that you I will very rarely write or say: I agree with the quoted comments of the leader of our parliamentary party. Yes, truly, each one of ’em!

    But I must be controversial and add that I feel that MPs’ wages should be increased. Not yet though: to do so would be really tactless, wouldn’t it?

    And although, in principle, I favour a pay rise for MPs, it is outrageous that they are allowed to have other jobs (apart, for example, for volunteering to pick up litter in a park, roadside verge or towpath within their constituencies).

  • MPs take the mickey. They are mocking us brazenly with their second jobs. Take Nadine Dorries for example, completely shamelessly jetting off to take part in a reality TV show. I’d be happy to raise their pay but no paid second jobs.

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