Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Sunday 16 June 2024

My pledge to be a Workers' MP on a Worker's Wage

Most voters think that 'politicians' are, at best, out-of-touch with the problems their constituents face in paying their monthly bills. At worst, MPs are seen by many as simply careerists out to line their own pockets by doing the bidding of the wealthy and powerful. And they certainly get a very nice salary - as the graph shows:

Figures based on April 2024 salaries taken from BBC sources

We're not the same as the establishment politicians

Socialist Party members - like myself - elected as MPs for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition can show that we're not the same as the establishment politicians - because we pledge to act as a 'Workers' MP on a Worker's Wage'.

In doing so, I would simply be following the traditions of any elected trade union representative, seconded from their job to represent the members in their workplace. They don't expect to be paid more than their colleagues - they live on the same terms and conditions, face the same bills, and try and deal with the same financial pressures and problems as the people around them. 

That's exactly how I was paid when I was Secretary of Lewisham NUT from 1993 - 2015. I remained on a classroom teachers' salary, so fighting for my own pay rises at the same time as fighting for my union member colleagues' pay rises too! A workers' MP should be the same.

Not losing touch with the cost of living struggles facing Chorley voters

Too many MPs in the past have been elected with the best of intentions, only to lose touch with the problems their working-class constituents face when living comfortably on their MP's salary (which presently stands at £91,346 a year). But some MPs made sure they kept in touch - like Dave Nellist, now the National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, but once the Militant-supporting MP for Coventry South-East.

As Dave explains here: "When I was an MP in the 1980s, my family and I took only the average wage of a skilled worker in a unionised factory in Coventry. We weren’t isolated or insulated from the problems of the people in our city. When I complained about the cost of living, it was because it hit my family exactly the same way it hit the people I represented. And every Socialist Party member standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in this general election makes the same pledge. If elected, we would be socialist MPs living on a worker’s wage. I think that’s worth supporting. I hope you do too".

Accountable to the voters I represent

I'm happy to discuss with local trade unionists and campaign groups what the appropriate 'worker's wage' would be for me. Whatever we agreed, I would also make sure that my income -  and any expenses claims that I needed to make - were open for inspection, so that I was accountable to the voters I represent. I would also share how I was using the (not inconsiderable!) difference between the wage I was taking, and the income that I would receive officially as an MP, as a resource to help support trade union, socialist and community campaigns.

As a starting point, thanks to a supportive school in South-East London, where I was working as a secondary science teacher in Catford alongside my union duties, I was able to progress to the top of the classroom teachers' 'Upper Pay Scale' in the past. So, if working as a teacher in a school that recognised 'pay portability' for previous entitlements, I could now claim a U3 salary - which, for Chorley, would now be £46,525. However, as I have been working for the last five years as a supply teacher, usually paid beneath the statutory scales by privatised agencies even when I was in long-term posts, then the most I might be likely to earn was M6, the top of the main pay scale, with an annual equivalent salary of £38,330. That might be a more appropriate 'worker's wage'. Alternatively, my income could be based, like Dave's in the past, on the average skilled workers' salary for Chorley.

A Worker's Wage or a Speaker's Salary?

Either way, it's worth saying in conclusion that the worker's wage that I would take as an MP would only be around a quarter of what the previous MP for Chorley, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, would earn if re-elected in his role as 'Speaker'.

According to the BBC, from April 2024, the Speaker is entitled to a salary of £79,760 in addition to his salary as a Member of Parliament. That would total an annual salary of £171,106. How many Chorley voters earn anywhere near that much a year??

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