Thursday, 11 July 2013

Mr Bridgen's at it again...

As the row over MP's pay rumbles on, our local MP (and go to man when you're looking for an outrageous quote) Andrew Bridgen has once again hit the headlines.

When asked about a proposed £6,000 pay rise for MPs on BBC Radio 4's 'World at One' programme Mr Bridgen directly compared his role with that of a Primary School Headteacher:

'MPs are paid about the same as a junior school headmistress or headmaster. I've got lots and lots of those in my constituency, there is only one MP. I can't think of another job where there's only 650 of those roles in the whole of Great Britain that are paid on this sort of level. We expect that we are not going to earn the money that we could have earned in the private sector but there has to be some balance in there. To continue to attract people with dependents on a salary of £65,000 - the right sort of people - I think Parliament is going to struggle.'*

Now, Mr Bridgen is absolutely right there is only one MP in this constituency, and he is right that there are many more headteachers (although many are paid considerably less than £65,000 a year), but to my mind that is where the astuteness of his observations end.

As a governor, as an employee and as a husband I have come to know something of the role of a Headteacher.

I understand that Headteachers often have to manage budgets into the millions.

They are responsible, in many cases, for 50 or more staff (and all of the human resources issues that entails).

They have to be property managers, marketing experts and, all too often, caseworkers.

Most importantly they have to do all of that (and much more) whilst being responsible for the welfare and education of hundreds of children.

And, incidentally, most of them do their role exclusively - they don't have the time to hold down a second job!

Now, not for one second am I suggesting the role of an MP is not vitally important, it is, and MP's should be paid well - around £66,000 seems a suitable sort of figure to me.

But aside from the quantative aspect I cannot see for one second how the role of a backbench MP is substantially more demanding (and essentially deserving of higher pay) than that of a Headteacher, or other similar professional.

So here is a suggestion for Mr Bridgen.

Instead of trying to make a case that MP's are somehow badly done by, how about trying to emulate the dedication, professionalism and indefatigability of our many Headteachers here in North West Leicestershire?

I am sure your constituents would reward you for it.



  1. What makes anybody (MP included) think they could attract a salary of more than £65k in the public sector anyway?

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  3. I think the last sentence sums him up;

    "To continue to attract people with dependents on a salary of £65,000 - the right sort of people - I think Parliament is going to struggle."

    If you enter into politics for the money, you shouldn't be entering into politics. If you want to make some money, try merchant banking.

  4. I think you and Andrew are both wrong, Leon.

    Current TES adverts for primary Headteachers in the East Midlands range from £46,808 to £65,963 (,cat-10509,cat-10470,cat-10561&mode=browse and, dependent on the size of the school.

    A primary school with 50 staff is large, so its head will command a higher salary, though you are right that many villages in our semi-rural constituency will have smaller schools, with heads earning less than Andrew.

    However, you are wrong about Heads only having one job. There is an increasing trend for academy heads to pick up multiple salaries for leading a group of schools, a policy started under Labour and extended by Mr Gove. Furthermore, you ignore the increasing trend for teachers to explore incomes outside their profession, due to the ever increasing income gap and bipolarisation of wealth (check out the TUC's Touchstone blog sometime). It's important to recognise that the average household income of circa £26kpa is well below that recommended by JRF's minimum income research, conducted by CRSP in Loughborough. How many teachers and Heads are landlords for instance, or co business owners with a spouse? Quite a few in my experience.

    So, on the point of MP's dedication to serving constituents, backbench or frontbench, I think Andrew is right. Okay, so he's a successful local business owner as well as our MP - we'd expect a working Tory to have some kind of background in self-employment or owning an SME, particularly among the Thatcherite start-up generation that is Andrew's. But one of the hugely wealthy Eton set with no concept of hard graft, he is not.

    I'm sorry but I cannot quite see AB produce lobbying as incisively and counter democratically as say, Lynton Crosby, and I rather get the impression that Andrew views his responsibilities not as a launchpad for consultancy fees such as Mr Blair has achieved, but as rank and file right wing representation of the communities he serves. Yes, he has a knack for unflattering photos and contentious quotes, but he's often on the benches and engaged in debate, when others are not and he's not afraid to stand by his own beliefs rather than tow the party line. In that respect, he emulates the late great David Taylor and a tradition of which NW Leicestershire should be proud.

    So, to me, the real question is whether Andrew will have independent and locally minded opposition at the next election because that's what democracy is all about.

    Personally, I'd rather Andrew came clean and said openly that he thinks MPs should earn more than the

  5. Far too many MP's now anyway..........most of the decisions are taken by Brussels time to cut the number of MP's to a more reasonable number say two for each county.

  6. Lets not forget Mr Bridgen has a second "job" at his produce company. While the rest of the country struggles, Andrew Bridgen complains about his obese salary. He is completely out of touch with reality and deserves a kick up the arse. I really hope he comes canvasing on my doorstep during the next election ;)