A paid political post is not a job. Even Matthew Parris, in an otherwise well-reasoned piece in the Times this morning, makes the mistake of referring to MPs' 'second jobs', with the clear implication that being an MP is the first. This misnomer has led to a raft of silly suggestions over the past months; that MPs should have a career structure, a starting salary with annual increments dependent on good behaviour and adequate performance and other appurtenances of regular employment. This all appears sensible to those who see politics as a profession much like becoming an estate agent. It also suits those who, as Parris also recognises, are turning Parliament into a paid wing of the central State, with Parliamentarians becoming ever more like any other civil servants.
These are the machinations of the loathsome political class.
If you were to ask ordinary people what they imagined an MPs' job was, no doubt they would place social work functions high on the list; they are there to help you get a bigger council house, get you more generous welfare benefits, help you jump the public service queue, galvanise the local council into action, run extra buses on a busy route and such-like things. The paradox of course is that MPs are providing diminishing returns; the more powerless they become in the chamber, the more marginalised and 'professional' they become, the less weight their letters carry. In giving up their power to hold the executive to account, in abandoning their role in determining great national issues, they have also become ineffective social workers, their pleas to the council or the bus company or the local hospital on behalf of their pleaders increasingly ignored.
A central State and its central parties are content to fill the chamber with talentless blow-ins, creeps, narcissists, careerists and venal and corrupt nonentities just as long as they walk into the right lobby at the right time. But this is not in our interests, and not in the nation's interests.
We must recognise that our liberty depends on strong and independent MPs not reliant on party for election or preferment, MPs who come to the House with a real trade or profession and not 'political researcher' or 'political organiser' as so many are now. And MPs who when they are not engaged in the business of Parliament have time if they wish to continue to pursue their trade or profession. The social work can be done by any fool.