Top managers in the public sector have done extraordinarily well under Labour; in 1997, chief execs earned about six times their organisation's average admin salary, but by 2007 this had doubled - with a wedge of 10 - 12 times the admin wage for top managers. Council bosses played musical chairs with a difference - none of the chairs were ever removed. Instead, each time a council boss' post was vacated, the salary was raised by another £30k and their mate from down the road would spend a few years doing the job. Spurious 'bonuses' were another way in which these top troughers lined their pockets - bonuses unrelated to any measure the public would equate with management success.
Transport for London is stuffed with scores of senior managers earning up to £200k each; in the Met, 49 civilian senior managers outnumber the police Commanders, ACs and DACs running the bureaucracy that our Police Force has become. The NHS has more managers than nurses, at salaries that make the GPs' £100k average seem like chickenfeed. Even our degraded, corrupt and politicised top civil servants have wangled themselves bonuses these days. The quangos are stuffed with mediocre managers each earning more than the Prime Minister, and even the incompetent placeman who failed to check MPs' receipts, a job my £27k a year accounts supervisor could do with her eyes closed, a fellow called appropriately Malcolm Jack - earns £150k plus use of a £3.8m grace and favour house in Westminster. Not only have they all stuffed their mouths with gold at the public expense, but the cost of their pensions is outrageous, and many will still contrive, with the corrupt connivance of fellow top troughers, to take early retirement with substantial lump-sum bungs.
For MPs, who will see their own wedge dramatically reduced as a result of Kelly's recommendations, this will prove too much. You see, as anyone who has designed an office remuneration structure will know, it's never so much about absolute salary as about relativity. Employees have a finely-tuned sense of relative worth, and an extra £500 a year and a job title can make the difference between a happy and effective office and a resentful and poorly disciplined workforce. MPs will look at council chief executives and public sector top managers in relation to their own reduced circumstances and conclude it's not fair. And at a time when it would be suicide for MPs to campaign to double their salary, that leaves only one way for them to go - to put the pay of public sector bosses under the spotlight, and to cut it as savagely as Kelly has cut theirs.
Expect a massive whinge from organisations representing the public sector's top troughers, and don't be surprised if they spend a few millions more of our taxes on a publicity campaign 'because I'm worth it ..'