Monday, 28 February 2011

Clement Freud's modest proposal

One of my intermittent clear-outs has just turned up a clipping from The Independent of 14th April 1997. It was a contribution to the "My Week" series by the late, much-missed, Clement Freud. It was clearly inspired by Martin Bell's decision to stand in Tatton in the forthcoming general election and gave the soon-to-be Independent MP (though there was no certainty of the outcome at that stage) the benefit of the experience of one, who, though sporting a party label and certainly a liberal, had been, as the MP for the Isle of Ely, the antithesis of a machine politician. To my joy, the text has been preserved on the Indy's web pages. His remarks on the distinction between the amateur and the professional politician should be read by every newly-elected MP and AM at least once.

But is it still true, as Freud asserted, that, in Finland, salaries decrease the longer a member stays in parliament? The reasoning, he wrote, is "that a new and inexperienced MP is keen, and will pursue issues regardless of the likelihood of success; the longer you have served, the less likely are you to chase 'iffy' causes."

I would like to think so.

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