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MPs’ pensions and the Election of 2010

June 18, 2009

column-pictureOn Monday I wrote a letter to our Labour MP about the Government’s decision to hold its Iraq War Inquiry in private.

It was an open letter.

Through it, I have urged the people of Hastings & Rye to write their own letters – writing to Michael Foster as a new member of the Government – to express their dissent.

I am hopeful that it will be published by the Observer this coming Friday.

It is highly symbolic in my view that immediately after Gordon’s ‘mea culpa’ to the Labour Party, and his promises of change, we get this appalling decision.

I will return to it in a future column.

Some pundits may tell you that the meeting in Committee Room 14, a week last Monday, was all about the desire of the Labour Party to demonstrate unity, and to bolster any residual hope it may hold of winning the next General Election.

I am afraid (even at this tender age) that I am more cynical. My own view is that Labour MPs know all-too-well that Labour will be crushed. What they have decided to do is to save their gold-plated pensions.

I have started to do a bit of research on this. 

Did you know that 13 years’ service appears to be the magic number in respect of MPs’ pensions?

Let’s do the maths from 1997…

The Parliamentary Labour Party has clearly done this simple calculation. They have considered the implications of changing Leader (with the imperative for a quick General Election) and have promptly backed Gordon Brown and an election in 2010.

And I would betcha that this has not been the only pension calculation being done over the last couple of weeks.

MPs pensions are final salary pensions. And they are ridiculously generous.

Interestingly, a local resident wrote to all the parliamentary candidates for Hastings & Rye before the recent elections, noting the absence of any direct reference to a pension in our MP’s expenses statement.

This resident has asked for an actuarial assessment of our MP’s pension pot. We will see if he gets one.

 But I digress.

You will no doubt be aware that there are Labour MPs who have joined the Government for the first time in the last couple of weeks.

In my letter to Michael Foster, the new Equalities Minister, I wondered aloud why he could possibly want to align himself even more fully with Gordon Brown in the dying days of New Labour, never before having been a member of the Government…

I suppose one could say that, over the years, he has voted in the House of Commons in exactly the way that a Minister would have done; so why not receive the status and the perks of the job?

On Michael’s website he recalls the moment:

‘At about 9.30 in the evening I received a call from Gordon to ask if I would like to take over as Equalities Minister in his ‘reshuffled government’. It didn’t take me long to say yes as it’s a job that will certainly fit in with my constituency role’.

He should also be clear with us whether it ‘fits in’ with his pension settlement.

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