Oh my goodness, I'm agreeing with Polly Toynbee

I feel so dirty, but her piece on what we should pay MPs actually makes sense. Excuse me for a moment, I'm going to have a glass of something to steady my nerves.

Being Polly she has to get in a dig somewhere, in this case in favour of state funding of political parties:

Voters so detest politics that they won't even pay a paltry 50p tax a year to end big donations.
and of course I would demur, pointing out that it's better for real people to spend their own money on political parties they choose than to have a quango divvy up a pool of taxpayer money according to arcane and incumbent-favouring rules (and in a quid-pro-quo I would mandate that parties publish the real name and verify the citizenship of any donor of more than £250).

Still, that hiccup aside, there's lots to like here:

Some say an MP should earn the same as the average voter. Yet set pay too low and good professionals will be deterred, leaving only the wealthy, such as the Tory front bench, to stand. It was Chartists, not toffs, who demanded MPs be fairly paid.
It's true. The reason we get a lot of financial and political incompetents is that a well-qualified engineer, software developer, financial analyst or investment manager can earn 2-4 times the basic MP's salary; as a result, Government only gets the burn-outs, retirees and the failures. For 650 MPs with an average constituency size of 45,000 voters, we're not even paying them at the level of responsibility of a secondary school headmaster as Polly notes. (For those in the audience claiming that the last thing Government needs is more bankers - wouldn't you prefer bankers who actually know what they are doing?)

I'm even behind Polly in her quest to nail expenses:

Professor Vernon Bogdanor blames Margaret Thatcher for giving the nod to using allowances as pay instead of a rise – leading to duck islands and moats. He would abolish second London homes and put MPs into a decent state-owned block of flats to stop property speculation on expenses.
Works for me. They only need to overnight there a few nights per week; if they have serviced apartments then there's no need to spend their valuable time on second home maintenance. Keep the allowance for their MP's office, and cover the travel costs of the more remote MPs, but beyond that they can spend their own money at their own judgement.

As a bonus question, why do you think we have so many ex-lawyers in Parliament when they could earn many multiples of the MP's salary?

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