Second jobs

My view has largely remained unchanged through the various crises that have buffeted politicians over the years. I am largely relaxed about MPs and second jobs, but only provided they are open and honest about it.

You see, I think that provided an employer, in this case the electorate, is content with their employee having another means of employment then who am I to object? Yet there are those, including comrades in my local Labour party, who think that Members of Parliament should not be allowed a second job.

It strikes me that very often there is envy involved, and a lack of pragmatism, but let’s look at some of the issues.

  • £60K plus is enough for anyone – Perhaps true, but MPs earn a pittance compared to footballers, pop stars, bankers, etc.
  • MPs should be concentrating on their constituents. Difficult to fault this argument either, except that many MPs already have the distraction of ministries, chairmanship of committees, etc.
  • MPs gain from the experience of having outside interests – this will depend on what this is (I cannot believe that working for a hedge fund will deliver as much benefit to constituents as volunteering at a food bank, but I could be convinced). One big criticism of our current crop of politicians is the somewhat narrow sphere they mostly seem to come from, and their lack of real world experience.
  • Having a second job will influence their decision making – not necessarily a bad thing if it is a poverty or health charity. Probably less than ideal if it is a financial planning firm.
  • Being an MP should be a full-time job – it may sound reasonable, but would does it actually mean? MPs do not clock in (and their attendance at Parliament and in their constituency is largely at their own discretion) and the workload will vary considerably.
  • What is a second job? – This is a less straightforward question than you may first imagine. I was paid a match fee for most of the games I refereed, and yet I think refereeing added to my life skills. Is refereeing a job? Is volunteering a job, albeit an unpaid one, and if not are interns employed or not?
  • I wonder what Sinn Fein MPs think of this (they never step inside the Palace of Westminster). I presume they have other jobs in Northern Ireland.
  • What of MPs who have a second elected position? Some MPs start out as councillors and hold onto to both roles for a while.
  • Should aspirant MPs give up work? I do not think so (if for no other reason than it would exclude all but the independently wealthy from applying) but the case for commitment to the role could equally apply.
  • Should MPs give up all roles in external organisations? This could include trade unions, pressure groups, political organisations, even internal party roles. Can you be an MP and sit on the party NEC?
  • Is it just about the money?

Whilst it is very easy to make statements about second jobs and MPs, the issue is a tad more complex than you might at first think.

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13 Responses to Second jobs

  1. comrades in my local Labour party

    Ah, do Comrades wear hair-shirts whilst Colleagues are a bit more conventionally attired?

    £60K plus is enough for anyone – Perhaps true, but MPs earn a pittance compared to footballers, pop stars, bankers, etc.

    But this also applies to everyone else! If MPs cannot live on £60k (remembering that costs of two homes etc. is separately covered) they do not deserve to “represent us”. I don’t believe that MPs should mirror “average citizens”, but not being able to manage on £60k indicates not just a lack of empathy but also rotten budgeting skills. They should learn to “cut their cloth” – like the rest of us are being forced to – by them!

    MPs should be concentrating on their constituents. Difficult to fault this argument either, except that many MPs already have the distraction of ministries, chairmanship of committees, etc.

    I first read this as “distraction of mistresses”!

    I don’t think it is possible to “legislate” for this (second jobs, not mistresses) as it depends on the individual. Part-time workers are often accused of not showing a similar level of commitment as their full-time colleagues. However, this is to ignore the fact that so called “full-time” colleagues are actually only committed for about 40 hours in every 168 hours = less than 25%! It’s not the hours, it’s what you do with them and whether you manage to do your job in that time.

    There must be an argument for saying that an MP’s job (excluding travel) should be such that it can be done in 40 hours per week. We accept that someone who is tired does not do their work safely or effectively – hence the Working Time Directive. We can’t have MPs voting on important matters whilst tired (even if not emotional) – it gives the whips too much influence. If it requires significantly more hours, perhaps we should consider whether MPs should have professional case workers, researchers and administrators to take some of the load. Alternatively perhaps we should look to see whether some of the “constituency” work is better directed to local councillors!

    If an MP can do the job in 40 hours I then so nothing wrong with a little moonlighting – provided there is no conflict of interest.

  2. jayman says:

    hi Julian. I had to stop reading when I read.

    “£60K plus is enough for anyone – Perhaps true, but MPs earn a pittance compared to footballers, pop stars, bankers, etc”

    I see it as a ‘good thing’ as i am sure you do that we do not have, footballers, pop stars, bankers. running the country. I find it a shame that we have a hall full of individuals who have completed nothing more then a P.E.P degree.

    Westminster is the home of self interest. You may enter such places with good intentions but you are soon pushed through the meat grinder. while the barons of big business and media tycoons turn the greasy handle. Whether you where blue red or yellow, once you have been through parliament you end up as a pliable, brownish Pâté that can be moulded by anyone other then the electorate.

    my advise to MPs is “stop being so bloody complacent. stop looking at the wage slips of bankers and business leaders. you are engaged in a poorly paid, demanding and thankless job that should only last five years if you stick to your principles. Now stop being so weak do the job (and only the job) that you are supposed to be doing (the one you volunteered to do) and wind your necks in..

    The reason why our country is in such a mess is that we don’t have any professional (representative) politicians. we have a hall full of part time business owners and consultants.

  3. Irene says:

    I would like to see that when an M P or a peer who has a combined income above £50.000.00 including allowances/expences, they should pay the full market value for the rent of there office plus heating that they use in the houses of parliament, or any office associated with parliament.

    Alan Grubb

  4. rayandsue says:

    Julian, to them, it is imperative that They have a second job, the time scale of a Humans working life is actually quite short, MPs are in an exquisite position to see where this country is heading, They need to accumulate enough funds to be able to escape the carnage they are creating,

  5. outsidethemarginals: I may be a little old fashioned calling my colleagues in the Labour Party comrades, but it does convey a sense of brothers (and sisters) in arms that I like. I am not sure that acquiring secondary paid employment suggests that the MP salary is insufficient; the cutting of one’s cloth could apply to any high earner. But I broadly agree with your points.

    Jayman: Actually, why doesn’t Parliament have the odd ex-footballer or pop star? (It has a few bankers already). I do agree that there are not enough MPs who have had a non-political background. I am not sure that people like Kelvin Hopkins or Dennis Skinner can be described as ‘Pate’.

    Alan Grubb: Whilst the sentiment is fine I do not think it is practical. £50000 nowadays is not a lot of money, and certainly would not cover office expense and staff as well as living expenses for the MP and his family.

    rayandsue: I am baffled (as usual) by your contribution. Why is it imperative that MPs have second jobs? I think this a decision for them alone.

  6. Irene says:

    An M P is elected to act as your representive in parilament, given the fact they they also sit on a number of committees within parliament, this alone is now being questioned, what is the need for other paid occupations when they should devote there time to you, the voter.

    They also recieve a hansom pension paid for by us the taxpayer, most people in the real world had to pay into there pensions.

    I am now retired, yes i have a state pension plus a company pension and i still work part time, Zero Hours contract, my combined erning are less than a third of of what an M Ps now wants but we as a family, servive.

    There is a saying “the more you have the more you want”

    MPs together with some councillors should live in the real world before they lecture us the tax payer

    To quote how prime minister we are all in this together, except certain people, M Ps being one.

    Alan Grubb

  7. rayandsue says:

    Well Julian, as baffled as you are about my blogs, ‘And the bafflement seems to have taken hold of you! I simply respond to some of your ‘ musings’ in the way I do, simply because I enjoy doing so,
    It is a ‘touch and go’ affair for me, as a fine line has to be trod if I’m to continue to be accomodated within your ‘blogging clientele’ base! ( you have your favourites)
    It was with ‘ tongue in cheek’ that I made the remark that ” it was ‘imperative’ for MPs to have two jobs”. This puzzled you?
    It was meant as a bit of innocent banter, The thrust of my banter Was simply pointing out (jokingly) that the way this Country is heading, they must be saving like mad for an expensive one way ticket to some far off ‘ Utopia!

  8. rayandsue says:

    Irene! Well said! You spoke for a great many people!

  9. rayandsue says:

    I can understand where Councillor Julian Ware Lane is standing on this matter, Is he ‘edging his bets’ ? After all, Councillor Ware Lane may be relaxed about MPs having second jobs because he may one day become one himself,
    However, As he pointed out, some of his Comrades are not taken on the idea! I wonder if Tony Blair still has Marxist tendencies now he’s a multi millionaire! Did I just hear someone ‘ turn in his grave’! ?

  10. Rob Brown says:

    I still think you should ban the trolls Julian, it makes me not want to read the comments section.

  11. rayandsue says:

    Yes! Ban the trolls Julian!! How unfair! allowing these people to put their views if they conflict with others!! So far you have resisted doing so, Thank heavens for free speech!

  12. A fair point Rob. Going forward I hope you will find the comments section better.

  13. rayandsue says:

    Good by, enjoy your one sided rhetoric , can’t have Robbie disappointed can we. Over and out

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