Excitement and sensationalism, maybe, but at what cost?

Posted 14 Jan 2013 by Walaa Idris

Once folks dislike or distrust a group of people all bets are off. They stop listening to them and in the rare occasion they do, they only hear what they want.

This happened to MPs after the 2009 expenses saga. Despite actual wrong doing or not, many are guilty by association. Of course, there were those who knowingly took what didn’t belong to them but the majority played by the rules and did what many of us given the chance will do and benefited from loopholes within the legal boundaries. And in many cases they did it on the advisement of the parliamentary expenses office. Hence ‘the letter of the law verses the spirit of the law’ argument. Not to mention the general attitude born of that argument – thus setting the ground for many other professions, such as banking, international businesses, and any occupations where perks and their loopholes can be exploited.

In the past few days, MPs’ salaries and pay made the papers. And, as expected the debate around it became quite emotive, as it is these days whenever there is talk around public sector money or taxes. Understandable, as money in very short supply, but more so, because according to the Guardian, MPs wanted a raise many times more than the recommended public sectors rise of 1%. MPs and their pay is always a hot topic, especially as recent events are still fresh in peoples’ mind – not long ago a former MP was convicted for misusing her expenses. It is also understandable, any talk of ‘MPs asking for a salary increase’ sounds tasteless to say the least. It shows them as heartless out of touch opportunists’ and only in it for personal and financial gain. And although, that might fit what some readers feel and think, it is not always the case – particularly in this occasion.

The truth of the matter is that MPs never actually asked for a raise. IPSA, an independent body, asked them what they would like to be paid. Asking someone what they would like or think is suitable pay is not the same as a demand. People, everywhere in every field do it regularly when applying to jobs or when asked to value their work – but it does not get the same outrage.

So why is it an issue here? It is, because politics, politicians and especially MPs are still very toxic, throw in money and they become explosive!

Proving my earlier point, that once people dislike a body they stop listening to them, and if or when they do, they only hear what they want. Everyone outraged about MPs ‘giving’ themselves a raise, in particular the Guardian were wrong. The paper, in its quest for sensationalism, overlooked a very important point – MPs never asked for a raise just suggested what they through their job is worth.

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