In a world of 24 hour news, with Gillian Duffy’s behind every corner ready to pounce on any ill-conceived opinion uttered by politicians, our MP’s are living in fear. Now it is not necessarily a bad thing for politicians to have to think through what they say but this fear of being misinterpreted can prevent perfectly sensible policies seeing the light of day. Below is a small and by no means comprehensive list of sensible policies that politicians are too scared to try and implement.
MPs should take their 10% pay rise
MP’s do not decide on their pay any more because an independent body, the IPSA, set their pay for them. This body has recently recommended that they have a 10% pay rise. Terrified of the optics of taking a pay rise when most of the country is going through austerity MP’s initially pressured the IPSA to change their decision and when they refused most MP’s vowed to give the £7000 increase to charity. This is absolutely the wrong decision. They should take the pay and and put it in their pocket.
“What madness is this?” I hear you cry. “Members of Parliament don’t deserve a pay rise! They have already bankrupted the country singlehandedly by spending all of our money on duck houses and 2nd homes for their cats to live in”. Well yes they (generally) demonstrated a pretty shocking disregard for the tax payer leading to the expenses scandal but in order to stop that happening again they have already set up an independent body to set their pay.
The reason that the IPSA suggested an above inflation increase was to bring MP’s pay in line with equivalent public sector roles. To create an independent body and then completely ignore its decision completely undermines the point of having it. There are many reasons why MP’s should be paid more; more talented MP’s, encourage people from poorer backgrounds, potentially short career, stops PM using cabinet jobs as a carrot etc. Raising MP’s pay is a sensible policy but politicians are scared to proceed.
Truly reform the NHS
The NHS is more than just a British institution. It is an intrinsic part of our values. It is a belief that every citizen has the right health care regardless of social standing or wealth. Quite rightly it is something we jealously guard.
However it is in desperate need of reform. It needs 8 billion pounds extra just to continue. It constitutes nearly 20% of our spending and is second only to pensions.
Despite being such a huge part of our budget it is politically toxic to even mention significant NHS reform. Using the phrase “private sector” in conjunction with the National Health Service is liable to get a politician hounded out of office. The inability to have a genuine conversation on NHS reform prevents sensible decision making which in the long term, ultimately harms the NHS.
Invest heavily in renewable energy
Renewable forms of energy generation tend to be more expensive than their coal or gas based counterparts. However much of this is for the simple reason that we have used coal for two centuries. This gives coal the benefit of efficiency saving techniques, economies of scale, a competitive market and established supply chains.
Given time and investment renewables could be as cheap as coal, gas, & oil with the added benefit of having the Netherlands above water, breathable air and polar bears not just on glacier mint wrappers.
De-criminalise possession of drugs.
Giving people a criminal record for possessing drugs for their own personal use doesn’t make sense. While it is understandable if you cannot get on board with the idea of making all drugs legal (link) there is a very strong argument for not criminalising people for merely possession (supply is still punished heavily).
Imagine however if the home/justice secretary mentioned that they were considering decriminalising possession, the press would dub them immediately “soft on crime”. Even after they explained that all the evidence pointed to the fact this would simultaneously reduce pressure on our police and prisons and keep the possessor more invested in society they would still be derided by the right wing press as spineless hippies.
Lets call this the Boris Johnson effect. Even people (like yours truly) who doesn’t like Boris cannot help but find him a little refreshing. He is different, he says what he thinks and he cocks up. In a world where every politician is desperately trying to avoid saying something they can be held to at a later date his unique brand of moronic bumbling connects with a lot of the electorate.
The point is whether you like him or not you feel like you know him and where he stands which is not something that can be said for most politicians. Not that I blame them exactly. In the age of twitter you are only one mis quote away from a lynch mob. Best to just say generic terms.
This is a shame because it firstly allows people like Nigel Farage to gain foothold because he is perceived as straight talking and a genuine bloke. A little more individuality would certain go a long way to engaging voters and rebuilding trust.
Thats right. Sometimes it is actually better for a politician to do nothing more than tell everyone that they have no changes planned.
Think of the economy, schools or the police. Every time a new government comes in they announce sweeping reforms, reorganisations and new measures of success. This means that ideas never have a chance to embed. Good practice never has a chance to entrench and those ever talked about efficiency savings are never seen.
Obviously most politician would baulk at the idea that they are running for office on a platform of “doing nothing” but I for one would find it refreshing.