Sunday 28 December 2014

A Teacher as an MP on a Teacher's Salary

As reported in the local press, I have put my name forward to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Lewisham West and Penge constituency in May. Like many other TUSC candidates, I would be standing as "A Workers' MP on a Worker's Wage".

I pledge that, if elected as MP, I would continue to take only my existing classroom teacher's take-home pay, with any additional essential expense claims fully open to public scrutiny. I would donate the considerable additional salary that a London MP is entitled to towards trade union and community campaigns and to assist the work of TUSC and the Socialist Party.

In doing so, I am following in the traditions of workers' representatives like Joe Higgins and other Socialist TDs sitting in the Irish Dail and Dave Nellist, former Labour MP from 1983-1992 and now National Chair of TUSC. (See: "Dave Nellist: The Coventry MP who gave away half his pay" via

I, alongside other TUSC candidates taking this pledge, won't be doing so out of 'charity' but as an essential part of the platform of any genuine people's representative. Firstly, to make crystal clear that we are different from the distrusted career politicians that so often represent the establishment parties. Secondly, to make sure that we don't lose touch with the pressures and problems facing our constituents struggling at the sharp end of the 'austerity' policies peddled by those same self-seeking MPs.

Contrast Dave Nellist's stand as a Labour MP with the career of the New Labour MP that he first shared a Westminster office with - Tony Blair. The former PM has dismissed press claims that his personal fortune could be as much as £100 million, claiming that he is 'only' worth £10 million! Whatever the actual figure, it is a sum that would shock those pioneers like Keir Hardie who first fought for Labour Representation in Parliament. It is a sum that also signifies how New Labour has abandoned its socialist and trade union roots, and why TUSC must make its stand for genuine workers' representation in Parliament and in local Councils this May.

Contrast the public support for Dublin TD Joe Higgins, dubbed as "the best fighter that money can't buy", with the opinion poll ratings of most MPs, especially in the wake of their various expense scandals. 

Contrast the real-terms pay cuts that most of us have endured with the 10% increase being awarded to MPs, bringing their basic pay to £74,000 after the General Election. I pledge that any salary increase that I accept would only be the same as I would have received as a classroom teacher.

Of course, even that 10% increase is not enough for Tories like Mark Simmonds MP who is standing down next year claiming that the salary and expenses rules have made him have to choose between his family and his parliamentary career! Of course, I and my partner, Linda, would still need to make sure we could pay our bills and support our kids - but by facing the same pressures facing other local families, not through parliamentary privileges.

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Finally, although our incomes as a schoolteacher and a shopworker might be small compared to, say, the income of a Lewisham household where both partners were MPs, many constituents will be struggling on less. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility have revealed that Osborne's plans for a supposed 'balanced budget' by 2020 depend on household debt as a share of household income rising by almost £1 trillion - as they attempt to shift the debt off the government books and onto the individual in the form of credit card debt, pay-day loan debt, store cards and mortgages.

That's why, as part of the TUSC platform for the May General Election, I'll be campaigning for the demand, supported by the TUC nationally, for a £10 an hour minimum wage. 

I'll also be calling for an end to the failing austerity policies supported by all the main parties and for investment in permanent jobs to replace the scandal of 'zero-hour contracts' and supposed 'self-employment' that is now being used to throw out many hundreds of City Link employees without even a redundancy payment this Christmas.

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