Listening to the radio the other day, I heard Tory blogger Iain Dale being interviewed about Alan Duncan's latest gaff. Obviously he agreed that the comments were ill-advised and that perhaps Duncan might have to apologise. But he didn't get to what I thought was the heart of the matter.
Look at these two statements, the first of which was not the headline quotes that the papers ran with the next day. The second of which is Duncan's apology.
"No one who has done anything in the outside world will ever come into this
place ever again, the way we are going."
"The last thing people want to hear is an MP whingeing about his pay and
conditions. My remarks, although meant in jest, were completely uncalled
The papers all lead with 'MP whinges about pay', and quite right too, it's the money shot in terms of bang for your buck outrage. That's what Duncan responded to as well, noting that nobody wants to hear MPs complain about what are comparatively generous pay packages. The phrase 'they don't know they're born' comes to mind.
But I think there's something deeper to this, somewhere buried further inside people like Duncan that contains the real reason why they make comments like this. Look at that first comment again: For people like him the salary he gets wouldn't motivate anyone whose 'done anything' to go to parliament.
What he's saying, and I think this runs fairly deep among the majority of mainstream politicians is essentially anyone who doesn't earn considerably more than an MP (or isn't at least capable of it) isn't really much cop. Basically they can written off as having any skills worthy of bringing to public life.
The problem with that is that he's basically writing off 95% of the population. All the people who actually do all the work round here are basically little worker ants who need governing by clever chaps who can make lots of money. And they only way you bring them in is by greasing the wheels. People of quality are those that are attracted by and can make lots and lots of money. Basically we're all offensively useless because we can't muster the kind of success that they can.
And that was the question that should've been asked about these remarks. How many of our political class essentially regard working people in this country as idiots because they 'can't get on in life' and wish we could have a parliament made up of 'the right stuff?