2007 - 2021

Why I Want To Be An Average Wage MP

scareDan Paris writes as part of our #newvoices series

In 2009, the expenses scandal confirmed the worst suspicions about a corruption at the heart of British politics.

Public scepticism about politicians and their motives is a natural, and necessary, part of the political process. It is less healthy for this scepticism to turn into cynicism – and it is entirely the fault of politicians that this has happened.

I’m both an optimist and a realist when it comes to the ability of parliamentary politics to be a force for good. I believe that government, with vision and integrity, can transform peoples lives. I’m also a realist in recognising that for government to be at its best, there needs to be a culture of accountability. That comes from widespread public participation, a vibrant press and strong groups, such as trade unions, able to hold vested power, whether in government or beyond, to account.

In Scotland, public engagement with politics is far from dead. But we must also recognise that cynicism about politics, and about politicians, is still widespread. And those of us who are involved in party and electoral politics have to be willing to challenge that cynicism, otherwise it will further corrode any belief that involvement and faith in politics is a worthwhile endeavour.

I am one of the potential SNP candidates for the Edinburgh North & Leith Westminster seat. When I was considering whether to put my name forward, the last thing on my mind was the fat salary offered. But should I become the party’s nominee, and then go on to win the election, I will suddenly find myself earning a salary several times my current income and well beyond the reach of the vast bulk of my constituents.

There are 400,000 workers in Scotland who earn less than the living wage. That’s an extraordinary number of people who, even when employed, are not earning enough to live.

Earlier this year, I wrote for Bella Caledonia on the need to devolve the power to set the minimum wage, and to use that power to establish a universal living wage in Scotland.

The Smith Commission, perhaps predictably, failed to devolve that power. It is one of the most glaring failures of the Commission to produce a devolution settlement ‘near federalism’ or to give Holyrood the powers to tackle inequality. It will be the job of of the SNP MPs elected in May to push for a devolution settlement worth the name.

If I am elected, my priorities will include campaigning against poverty pay, against the sickening use of benefit sanctions and for secure and fair work for all who’re able to do it. I would personally feel uncomfortable doing so while earning many times what most working people do.

Which is why my pledge, if selected as the SNP nominee for Edinburgh North & Leith, will be to live on the average wage for a Scottish full-time worker. I will take home the equivalent of the after-tax median wage, and donate the rest of my salary, after party levies, to charities working in Edinburgh.

This is a personal pledge, and one I would not expect other candidates to make. I am in a position without dependants where I can make this commitment, and as I currently earn less than the average wage it is no particular hardship. But I believe it would be an important statement about my beliefs and intentions, and would, in its own small way, help to build trust in politics and in the SNP.

Comments (64)

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  1. IAB says:

    I think all SNP MPs should agree a salary, make expense claims public and shame the rest – I hope you win and can stand the braying Eton debates of the commons

    1. abesto says:

      Expenses claims are already public.
      e.g. See the claims by Edinburg North & Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz
      Aggregate figures: http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/MPAndConstituencyData.aspx?conId=0614
      Search in detail: http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/SearchFunction.aspx

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        MPs do not have the option to set their own salaries. This is the responsibility of an independent review body.

        And MPs expenses are already made public.

    2. kate says:

      SSP MSPs did this in scottish parliament, & is still SSP policy. don’t think SNP will like it though..seems very socialist ( which is good)

  2. Optimistic Till I Die says:

    Ca’ canny, Dan. Your pledge is laudable but I think you overlook some important issues. First, you will probably have to spend a fair amount of time travelling and work unsocial hours. Though I am undoubtedly out of touch with current practices now that I am retired, I believe anyone on an established income tends to get paid extra for such hours. It would not do you, your constituents, or anyone else any good if you had to suffer for your commitment. I think, therefore, you should give yourself a bit of leeway. Secondly, if elected, you will be mixing with many individuals who will not share your commitment. You may end up not only feeling like the guy in the pub who wants to stick to a pint of real ale whilst everyone else sups champagne but find yourself unable to influence the latter because of your self imposed financial limits. I would also suspect it will be much harder than you think to resist the blandishments and perks associated with working in the House of Commons and trust you have the strengh of will to stick to your pledge. If you can, you would certainly serve as a counterpoint to career politicians who have little interest in the public they ostensibly serve..

    1. maxi kerr says:

      you are on the money Opti, the view is a wee bit naive for his own good. We would want him and his ilk to be paid well ,…as long as they do a decent job of work and remain answerable to us the public.

    2. parisdan says:

      Hi there,

      I don’t agree that taking an average wage would mean that I would suffer in any way. The median full-time wage in Scotland is around 27k – this is higher than the *average wage* as many workers are in part-time or casual employment. The job may require long/anti-social hours but it is less of a hardship than trying to raise a family on the minimum-wage or to pay the rent while on an unstable zero-hours contract.

      I do believe that there is a good reason that MPs are paid significantly more than the average wage. But, personally, I’m just not interested in being paid 67k to represent people who are largely earning much less than this.


      1. DR says:

        I don’t think this is at all ‘naive’. I personally would want MPs to *recognise* that they are paid well (which apparently few of them do, making a mockery of all the good reasons for doing so). And this “find yourself unable to influence the latter because of your… financial limits” is just incredibly worrying! Are ‘we’ really okay with the idea that MPs with more money have more influence *in Parliament*, and that’s somehow ‘natural’? Lots of folk, as Dan rightly points out, are doing key jobs (with long unsociable hours, and more direct consequences for the health and wellbeing of their fellow citizens) for much less money than he proposes to take: but it’s ‘underpaying’ *MPs* that’s somehow ‘dangerous’?

      2. Bernicia says:

        Hi Dan. You do know that your party the SNP have no policy, nor ever ha a policy of ending zero hours contracts. In fact they happily kept zero hours in the scot public sector for the last term/ 7 years ish until called out on it. Please stop telling porkies!

  3. Great post, very inspiring!

  4. I am not in your constituency but hope you can join in more with other parties to make sure and keep the Tories out and keep pointing out the media[ mistakes]!!
    Andy pandy Marr thinks the Greens are the third largest party and the BBC are even loathe to mention SNP, I said SNP!!!

  5. Dave Watt says:

    It’s a good idea Dan and one that was actually carried out by the SSP when they had 6 MSPs all living on the same wages of a skilled worker 1999-2007.

    1. connor Mcewen says:

      Tommy Sheridan was seen regularly on the edinburgh busses so he had to be hounded out of office by Murdochs cronies on the Sun. He was too dangerous to stay in office!!!

  6. Frederick Robinson says:

    My spirits (and I don’t mean the alcoholic variety) rose on reading about your being anti-scepticism, still more, -cynicism, and I applaud your intentions. But scepticism and cynicism are not confined to politicians. You only have to watch Question Time, listen to Any Questions or read almost any online forum or Readers’ Letters in any newspaper, to observe the nation is crawling with sceptics and cynics.

  7. fehvepehs says:

    Nice one Dan.
    Being a man of the people IS something to aspire to.
    Too many of our politicians are milking the system.
    Travel by bus, no not them, it’s always a taxi. On the train, 1st class of course. Fly down and not on budget airlines.
    Whilst the average man will take pieces to his work, our MP’s splash out on whatever takes their fancy.
    Hope you are successful.

  8. Peter A Bell says:

    As gesture politics goes, giving away a chunk of your MP salary probably makes for a good headline. In fact, it is such a shiny, sparkly idea that it is likely many will be too dazzled by it to actually think about the implications.

    There was a time when representative politics was the exclusive preserve of the economically powerful. To be an MP, you had to be independently wealthy. Or in the pockets of the economic elite. It wasn’t until 1911 that regular salaries for MPs were introduced. This opened up the possibility of people being elected who previously could not even have contemplated being a candidate. It meant “ordinary” people could become MPs.

    It should not be necessary to dwell upon the rather obvious advantages of this change. Which is not to say that there wasn’t a downside in the creation of a new class of professional politicians and in a fatefully lax and slapdash system of remuneration that allowed quite absurd abuses to evolve over time into accepted practice. But, in seeking to eliminate these practices, we should be wary of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    It would be a tragedy if, in our fervour to curb the perceived venality of British politicians, we reverted to a situation where politics once again became a rich man’s hobby.

    Being an elected representative of the people should be among the most important roles in society. The status of this role should be reflected in the remuneration which it attracts. Most MPs work pretty hard. They work long and often anti-social hours. They are required to travel a lot. The work they do is little appreciated and they are subject to much abuse.

    The job is massively insecure and may require that a potentially lucrative alternative career be forsaken, with no guarantee of being able to pick up the pieces again should one be culled by the voters.

    If we want decent MPs, we have to be prepared to pay them a decent salary. If we want people from all walks of life to devote their time and their abilities in the service of our democracy then it is both counter-productive and morally wrong of us to demand that they make economic sacrifices in order to do so.

    It is time to stop carping about how much our elected representative cost us and start focusing instead on how effective they are in looking after our interests. Personally, I’d be happy to pay rather more than the current £70,000 a year if it meant replacing the typical British MP from a constituency in Scotland with someone who could truly and fearlessly speak for the people of Scotland in the British parliament.

    Might I suggest to Dan Paris that he stop trying to impress people with how little remuneration he is prepared to take and start trying to impress them with how thoroughly he will earn the remuneration to which he will entitled if elected.

  9. Darien says:

    “It will be the job of of the SNP MPs elected in May to push for a devolution settlement worth the name.”

    Jings, and here’s me thinking the SNP wanted an independent Scotland. Maybe you should be renamed as the Scottish Devolution Party?

    On the matter of MP wages, however much you take it is still a unionist shilling.

    Better the 30+ SNP MP’s, a Scots majority, declare independence come May. Then there would be no need to fret about unionist salaries, or the cost of living in London. Courage lads/lassies!

  10. Bernicia says:

    I’m cynical about the cynism towards the cynical parliamentary system.

  11. Bernicia says:

    Doesn’t this process run the risk of favouring wealthy candidates who don t need a salary?

  12. Monty says:

    As said above the only party that has done this is the SSP who also took a principled stand on MSPs getting help with second homes and than making huge personal profits when they sold them. When Alex Neil made a large profit from selling his second home he retorted what do they want us to do live in a caravan. This shows a fundamental dislike and misunderstanding of the public that is all too common amongst our MPs and MSPs. Whilst 90% of our MSPs would struggle to earn anything near 60 grand outside Holyrood and the same for MPs they should earn reasonable wages for what should be a responsible and tough job and I think most people would agree with this. The fact that they are representing us should make them humble not swell their egos but perhaps asking them not be self important is too much. Both MPs and MSPs should than their lucky stars they are members of tow very exclusive and privaleged clubs.

  13. Bernicia says:

    Good grief!, think I need a lie down and some soothing music to stop the vein in my temple throbbing. Just googled ‘Dan’ to see who he is and thought the work experience boy was having a laugh by putting up his mug in place of the actual MP candidate. He’s about 12? He has never had a proper job! Straight from university (history) – economics would’ve been better for an SNP candidate! – to MSP’s ‘wee’ helper, then straight to MP? He only graduated in 2010! Now I am really ‘cynical’. Thought the Indyref was all about ending ‘career politicians’ and that Scotland was so different to the insular closed British establishment? In fact one of the aspect I agreed with was greater plurality of background and experience in public life, rather than party apperachik clones who haven’t a clue about the world except for their own dogmatic tribal political prejudices. No wonder he isn’t bothered about giving away his salary, he has no dependents, no mortgage and no responsibilities. How can an actual grown up compete with that? And as for the hair shirt routine, I suspect that 27 grand is a little higher than the average median wage of someone in their early twenties in his constituency? At least that MP bloke in Conventry who gave up part of his salary had worked in a factory most of his life and knew a thing or two.

    Oh and was political editor of the ‘cross party’ national collective….Aye right, and I suppose your average bear is aquainted with armitage shanks. And apparently indy wasn’t about the SNP but would open up politics in Scotland!

    Oh and can prospective SNP candidates stop talking about ‘social justice’ when they haven’t a single redistrubutive policy in their manifesto. The SNP is nothing but a career vessel for dogmatic wanna be politicos with one agenda – independence (this is fair enough but it is not motivated by social justice! nor is it a change from the prevailing orthodoxy at westminster.)

    Sorry Dan, but do the country and your constituents a favour, get a job first, live a little and learn a lot, make a few mistakes, then come back in ten years when you know a little more about ‘real life’ and have actually started shaving.

    1. DR says:

      What a depressing comment – I got bingo though, I guess.

      1. Bernicia says:

        Don’t know what that means? Bingo, is this text/ teenage speak? Please explain?

    2. Bernicia says:

      Just for your interest ‘I’m really really oh so principled and not at all playing politics with the electorate’ Danny boy, the starting salary for a nurse is 21 grand, police 22 grand, teacher 21 grand…You’re right about one thing, you will be the average MP, just another party man like Cameron, Milliband or Clegg. Why can’t we get some decent, knowledgable people into politics with new ideas (both in Scotland and UK)?

    3. bellacaledonia says:

      Bernicia – I think you should stop being abusive and change your tone. Here is a young person putting themselves forward for public office. They don’t deserve your vitriol.

  14. Bernicia says:

    Yes he really does deserve a bit of ire (imagine this had been a Tory, the ire he would get and rightly so! This is everything that is wrong about Politics in the UK/ Scotland! This isn’t a game ‘for young people’ to have a wee go, but about people’s lives. Get involved in politics by all means, campaign, volunteer, work in public service, journalism, industry, in parliament, set up a site like Bella, but don’t be so arogant as to assume you have the experience or knowledge to make decisions (especially economic ones that are best served by lengthy experience and deep understanding of how things work, rather than university abstract theory – although theory should compliment.) on behalf of people who are paying taxes to be represented for their basic needs. Like I said, he should come back in a few years time, then he will be taken serioulsy, and quite possibly be a great MP – I suspect the people of Leith will concur.

    The SNP are absurd! They reject highly experienced candidates like Craig Murray?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You seem to be obsessed with a party that you abhor. I don’t quite understand why being young is an obstacle to standing for office? You hand out judgements on people and ideas on this site with incredible vigour and confidence but it and the wider independence movement and politics is something you hate. You appear to have taken your own personal experiences and have writ them large across the whole of Scottish culture and politics and are now venting them in this forum.

      There is a limit to how long this can go on unless you are actually engaging with other people here.

      1. Bernicia says:

        I don’t hate anyone, just ignorance and arrogance. This whole raison d’etre on this site is to cast judgement and people and ideas is it not…or is it just people you ‘don’t agree with’ Jim Murphy for example. I’m sorry if Dan is ‘a mate’ but you put yourself up there you have to role with the punches (unfortunately). I am engaging. I’m saying what everyone is thinking (in this case).

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      There seems to be a continuum from unionist parties and their supporters who didn’t want the referendum, didn’t want the vote for 16 / 17 year olds, didn’t want to take part in public debate during the campaign and now are suggesting that young people shouldn’t stand for office.

      In fact if Libby Brooks is right, a quarter of the youngest Scottish voters have joined a party since referendum. See here: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/16/quarter-under-18s-scotland-political-party-referendum?CMP=twt_gu

      That’s an amazing thing and likely to drown out your relentless negativity over the coming years.

      1. Monty says:

        Fair enough but I do think the public in general are suspicious of people who go straight from Uni to working for party/trade union then on to being an MP/MSP. They are more comfortable with people who have seen and perhaps experienced the problems of everyday life and thought the best way to confront these is via politics and then enter politics at a later stage in life. These people also seem a bit more capable of speaking English rather than politico speak.

      2. Bernicia says:

        His inexperience (and the fact he thinks this is a game) is exemplified by the post (a very arrogant one) That he is willing to forsake some of a 74 grand a year salary in order to be a humble representative rather than a money grabber/ careerist politician. Yet no one his age (unless they’re Alexander the Great) would dream of earning that kind of money, nor taking that kind of responsibility and nor should they until they have ‘earned it’ an have proven they can do a decent job (whatever the politics). Can you imagine any other serious walk of life doing this? Business, industry, public sector, the church, any?

        And can every single Yes voter who went on and on and on, about this not being about the SNP and actively changing the nepotism of the narrow suffocating deadening party apparachik politcal system please apologise to all the sceptical no voters who said it would be just the same after indy just under a different flag. At least the UK is a two party system, Scotland is a one party system.

      3. JBS says:

        “Yet no one his age (unless they’re Alexander the Great) would dream of earning that kind of money…”

        Hmm. Don’t remember reading anything like that in Arrian or Curtius. Hang on, is this another one of those legendary stories about Aristotle? Is Aristotle supposed to have told Alexander that, as a Macedonian prince, he could expect to get £74k p.a. plus benefits?

        Your source, Bernicia?

      4. Bernicia says:

        OK question JBS.

        For the last few years I and many others were lectured to by people about ‘change’ to the status quo. Three of the central tenets ‘yes’ repeatedly promised in breathless ‘hope over fear’ revolutionary language concerning the insular, unepresentative and closed political British establishment was…

        1) no more career politicians dominating.No more jobs for the boys and out of touch party politico university clones but a ‘grassroots’ revolution where everyone was involved with real people and local democracy, Not like nasty Westminster and those ‘classics’ at old school establishment university, student politics, MP helper, straight to MP with a nod and a wink types who have never been out in the real world.

        2)It wasn’t about the SNP but open and spontaneous democracy.

        3) It was about social justice not nationalism.

        I was a sceptic saying there was equally a closed Scottish establishment that was just as bad.That one establishment would be replaced with another, equally closed and nepotistic. and that the grassroots, once they had served their purpose would be swiftly marginalised.

        Take five minutes and check out Dans ‘grassroots’, look at the names on his twitter and blog and who he has worked for and with and tell me my suspicions were wrong about 1) and 2) – the whole network is a closed shop that links back to central command at SNP head quarters including the so called non free MSM – Nat Collective, WeAreNational and this site…They’re all mates looking out for one another. All in it for their own advancement.

        Then read his background and his long standing Nationalist sympathies – dissertation on Natism and read the lame apologist politco speak, for ‘progressive’ SNP policies and tell me I was right to be sceptical about number 3).

        Cynical is too mild a word (It wouldn’t surprise me if Dan went to a rather middle class school.)

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          You do a grave disservice to healthy scepticism by associating it with your sneering, simplistic defeatism.

      5. Bernicia says:

        Amd you do a healthy diservice to healthy truth, by maintaing an Indy Scot is about and substantial ‘change’.

      6. JBS says:

        Still waiting for the question, Bernicia.

        You want Scottish independence supporters to vote Labour this coming May. It strikes me that continually sneering and jeering at them is not the best way to persuade them to do what you want.

        As far as I’m concerned, though, you can carry on. Every time you sneer at Scottish independence, you remind people of the indyref, which in turn reminds them of Better Together and the fact that the Labour Party stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories and the LibDems as part of BT.

        Mind you, I don’t suppose that Scottish independence supporters will need much reminding…

      7. Bernicia says:

        What question? You mean Alexander the Great and pay and responsibility? He died at 30? So what? Aristotle? That the Greeks weren’t allowed to vote before 30, a man still considered an adolescent until then? Not sure what you mean source? It was a flippant comment.

        The point is an MP job is difficult and complex (lots of complicated committees to sit about economics, ethics, constitution, International relations and foriegn policy, industrial relations, involving all the disparate sections of society with difficult grown up decisions to make – Admittedly I’m going on personal experience, but I would never have been capable under 30, Wouldn’t have either the wide knowledge, self confidence, or deepth of understanding that comes with experience? Over thirty, after working for a while, seeing a bit of the world and gaining an outside perspective and a degree of sober objectivity and distance from my youthful certainties then maybe?

        (This cult of youth is bizzare, name me another society where the most responsible job in the country is entrusted to those with no wisdom or life learning? – show me the anthropology? At what point did the concept of elders suddenly became obsolete?

        And I could care less about Labour except that it’s either them or the Torries end of story. (the former isn’t great but latter will destroy people’s lives – look at the actual policies.

        And yes I do sneer at hypocrisy. It deserves to be sneered at. If a campaign ‘Yes’ is predicated on sneering (rightly so) at nepotism and a closed party system, then simply replicates that system in their own image what else am I supposed to do? And the double speak, the protests of not being nationalists but social democrats first deserves to be sneered at when it is exposed as precisely that double speak. Dan Paris is a nationalist first and last (an SNP party man) This site is nationalist first and last…Social justice is merely incidental. If it wasn’t they would engage with ideas beyond ful Independence and party politics, but they don’t.

        No please answer my questions…

        And also to be fair, maybe Dan would like to defend himself rather than getting his mates in the (non MSM) to do it for him. I’d be interested to hear his views. To prove my cynism wrong.

      8. Bernicia says:

        ANd ok, to be fair to Dan, maybe I’m focusing too much on age, and not experience which is the real issue. But they tend to go together. I suppose there are young politicians with life experience – thinking off my head but Ruth Davidson is still under 40 and a party leader – she was in Kosovo and the army first I think? Tony Blair was the youngest PM since Pit, but he was a barrister before politics? Alan Johnson who I admire greatly was a postman and shop steward. That kind of thing..anything other than the closed party machine. Where you come to conviction based on experience rather than pre-concieved prejudices. And have experience of responsibility?

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          Ruth Davidson has not been in the army or Kosovo no, she’s been running about in the woods with the TA dressing up in khaki.

      9. JBS says:

        “…thinking off my head…”

        Yay, go Bernicia!

        I have to stop typing because I can’t stop laughing…

      10. Bernicia says:

        Yay? Who says Yay? DO you stil ‘lol’ also?

      11. JBS says:

        “…a degree of sober objectivity and distance…”


  15. Steve Asaneilean says:

    I would settle for MPs travelling 2nd class and staying in Travelodges (Westminster could have its own Travelodge for MPs only if there are concerns re security).

    If they want to travel first class or rent a second home in London it should be at their own expense.

    1. Darien says:

      At least 45% (and today perhaps over 50%) of Scots would prefer to have no Westminster MP’s in Scotland. That can be delivered in May when Scotland elects a Scots majority of 30+ SNP MP’s and they find the courage to declare what they and their party stands for.

      1. Steve Asaneilean says:

        True – but while we still have them…

      2. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unilateral_declaration_of_independence
        This would be great for Scotland and could be achievable now but could lead to dark arts of Westmonster and unionism destabilising the aims of the whole movement it would need all party’s in Scotland to agree to it !
        All good things come to those how wait !

  16. 1314 says:

    ‘Young’ Dan has brought Bernica to the point of spontaneous combustion – good for him.

    Peter Bell, as almost always, has a point – although he could have been more understanding of his own younger, not seeing through the eye of experience, self.

    There is no doubt that paying our ‘elected representatives’ from the public purse was a giant step forward.

    1. Nice response 1314.

      I particularly love Bernica’s “I’m saying what everyone is thinking”. Does this assertion display just the kind of arrogance s/he claims to see everywhere and despises? (and this despite most people responding positively to the author’s proposal to take an average wage). Maybe s/he could have a think about where the things s/he thinks s/he sees everywhere come from (all these hopes, and attempts to make positive change, to be despised and condemned with such derision). Maybe taking a break from looking in the mirror of the screen might help? Maybe getting out and trying to do something to help others would help? Or maybe its more of a consolation to stay in and rail against others worthlessness, maybe its just a lot easier to never try? Maybe, but maybe its better to have a life.

      Peter Bell has a similar default, although he does, as you say, almost always have a good point to make too. There is often almost a presumption in favour of the status quo though that seems to often mirror Bernica’s: the former seeming to want little to change except exchanging the UK for Scotland (though maybe that’s unfair, he speaks very strongly against such corrupt institutions as the House of Lods), the latter wanting only to say no change is possible, and anyone trying is worthless . . .

      Wow, and there’s me spinning down the plughole, spending time railing against others when I could be doing something more useful – I wonder why we do it, why?

      I could delete this before I post it, but I’ll leave it here as a reminder to myself that – whenever I vehemently accuse others of something, the vehemence is likely to be fuelled by the fact that their actions are mirroring some of my feelings. Right, time for me to stop looking in the screen-mirror, but before that try and say say something half-way useful:

      1314 agrees with Peter that “There is no doubt that paying our ‘elected representatives’ from the public purse was a giant step forward”. And of course that’s true. But should that stand in the way of creating a society where nurses are valued (in pay) as much as MPs and MSPs? There seems to be an inverse relationship between pay and the worth of peoples’ work – the exorbitantly wealthy providing no real benefit, the hospital cleaner contributing immensely.

      And now Oxfam say (http://bit.ly/1CFvxc9) that very shortly the wealth of the richest Global 1% will be more than the rest of us 99% put together. Meanwhile the redistributive (e.g. cap and dividend) policies needed to keep carbon in the ground to stop the creeping devastation of climate change is something that many say are politically or socially unrealistic.

      But as Monbiot says, (http://bit.ly/1BMvhaB) “we must make this such a potent electoral issue that we drag governments out of the clutches of the fossil fuel industry.” And he adds: “You think that’s tough? Well try the alternative: living in a world with 5C of global warming, in other words a world of climate breakdown. By comparison, almost anything looks easy”.

      1. Bernicia says:

        Hi Justin,

        Fair enough I do come across as a curmugeon, natural default setting I’m afraid, and claiming to knows others thoughts is arogant. Head lowered in humility and shame at hubris!

        But you’re wrong about this…(rant alert, please avert gaze if of weak constitution, easily offended and supervise children at all times!)

        ”…the latter wanting only to say no change is possible, and anyone trying is worthless…”

        First, get off your ‘YES’ high horse and stop bleating on in empty meaningless slogans!!! And show me the meat on the bone!

        There is all manner of change possible, just the right kind of change..independence wasn’t it, would have made a bad situation significantly worse. As will voting for SNP in the GE.

        And as for this post and the structure of indy ref and YES, what change? It simply confirms all suspicions. How is the prospective candidate a change to the status quo? And after two years of being patronised and decieved and told it’s not about nationalism and the SNP, I’m a tad cynical… Answer me this, where are the ‘grassroots’ now, in parliamentary selection? where is the open forum and inclusion of diversity rather than those who toe the SNP party line? Why are all the main YES outlets inflitrated by a small clique of party people? A YES ESTABLISHMENT!

        Serious academic bit…

        And being a realist, seeing complexity and cautious conservativism as the essence of social democracy – one of the crucial insights of Eduard Bernstein and the early leaders of the German and Swedish Social Democrats was that you had to ‘live in truth’ to mix quotations – A central tennet was to improve people’s lives through redistribution through appropriate public ownership, improved benefits and conditions for workers by recognising that the primarily condition for this must be to avoid economic fluctuations, damaging systemtemic change and potentially damaging dogma/ ideology/ socio- economic cleavages and hubris. Why because it is ordinary people who bare the brunt of such hubris. – See Thatcherism!

        This is the route of the European social-democratic tradition that Salmond routinely claimed as his own! (after being right wing Tartan Tories failed in 79 – has NOTHING to do with principles of social justice but cynical electioneering and power. Proven by Salmond and the SNP’s latter shift back to the right – Donald Trump anyone?)

        Nobody claiming to be a social democrat’ could support independence without having a solid answer to the currency question, or the oil price, or the renewables and industry funding, or the funding for R and D and universities, or having a good alternative plan to pay off the share of the deficit hwile in a currency union, and addressing the UNAVOIDABLE wider economic system that impinges on all states! (No country is an island! to be flippant). You do NOT deliberately set out to cause massive consitutional and economic revolt unless it is pragatic and will clearly improve things and is unviersally agreed upon (social cohesion)…Independence was far from clear! – this was the shift away from Marxist Leninism.

        ‘…In short, for social democrats deliberately to attempt to engineer a fiscal, monetary and constitutional crisis within the UK is to flirt with disaster, harking back to the old Leninist call for the sharpening of capitalist contradictions at any cost….’ (James Stafford is Commissioning Editor of ‘Renewal: a Journal of Social Democracy’.)


        And most of all the end to the LIE that is that Scotland doesn’t have the ‘powers’ right now!!! Almost all of the above is within the remit of the Scottish Governement as is much more….come back to me with your flags and your empty slogans once you’ve got that sorted, then maybe I’ll listen and have less contempt!!

        Or the other MYTH perpetuated, that statehood is the only way to revesrse decline and to create a better society!!! rather than UK wide democratic renewal, when the historical evidence is clear that the reformist agenda of YES supporters can be achieved on multiple platforms. – It’s not me who is impossibilist and negative but the NATIONALIST IDEOLOGUES. You lost get over it!!

        And most of all please, please, please end the LIE that the SNP is a) inclusive of other pro indy groups b) the most appropriate vessel for social justice..when a cursory glance at the policies will tell the truth.

        If ‘YES’ really was about social justice, and about the leftwing renewel and that ‘nationalism’
        was a means and not an end, tactical rather than doctrinal, then why cling to it at all costs as the primary motivator and end?

        And incidently, I do my bit also, and have so much time as am currently between jobs/ contracts due a pesky thing called the Oil price.

        Rant over, hope I annoyed enough people!

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          I think you should start your own website where you wouldn’t have to interact with all these terrible people who are wrong about everything.

      2. JBS says:

        I’m not annoyed, I’m delighted. Bernicia in full-on rant mode…can’t be beat. It has an odd sort of magnificence about it…

  17. John Souter says:

    I think Bernicia should put her firebrand qualities to the test.
    Stand as an independent candidate for Jim Murphy’s constituency.

  18. Bernicia says:

    Mmmm.. not part of either establishment parties and couldn’t afford it.

    1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesia%27s_Unilateral_Declaration_of_Independence
      There is a presidence so is there any legal eagles up for seeing if it’s possible and advicing our mps how to do it ?

  19. arthur thomson says:

    Well Dan, I’m sure this has been learning experience for you. I personally admire the basic principle you are advocating for yourself but in future make sure that you get a good range of cynics to read privately what you propose to make public before you actually do it!

    1. It’s a great idea from the young man who wrote the article it proves our education system is breeding youth with empathy and balanced social awareness well done am not in his area so can’t vote for him but most likely lots will sending Scotland’s youth to Westminster would be great for our political future good luck to him and all the young snp candidates also they would run rings round the Westmonster !

      1. Going off topic what do you’s all make of dim murphys plea for the Lisbon lion captain and john Grieg sirs lol what a clown trying to get the celts and sevcoians on side with a bribe of honours such a fool and a clown of a man the daftest branch manager ever to grace Scotland

  20. paulcarline says:

    Depressing not to have anyone making the simple, uncynical, point that the party system is undemocratic and even anti-democratic and serves no-one but the major parties and their career politicians – some of whom may well be genuinely idealistic, at least to begin with. Real democracy requires that all those who are affected by decisions and/or policies should have a say in setting the agenda and also have the final word on what is implemented. Parties behave just like companies in the marketplace – their main effort is put into defending and if possible maximising their market share by whatever means they can, which normally includes making false promises in their manifestos and avoiding offending certain important constituencies like big business and finance.
    The party system has proven itself incapable of providing radical solutions to social and economic problems as parties have aligned themselves increasingly with the interests of capital. It needs to be replaced. Real democracy needs active, well-informed citizens engaging cooperatively to work out local solutions to local needs. The current global economic system which largely operates a reverse Robin Hood system – exploiting the poor to enrich the wealthy, privatising profit and socialising losses – is in any case on the brink of collapsing under the weight of its own sickness: the idolising of wealth and the callous lack of concern for the vast majority of humanity. The parties have made themselves complicit by their failure to challenge the obscene system.

    1. You’ve just made the point, so you need no longer be depressed that no one’s made it! And some very good points too: “active, well-informed citizens engaging cooperatively to work out local solutions to local needs” and global solutions to global problems is exactly what so many of us are doing, including your good self.

  21. Bernicia says:

    And there’s another thing that bugged me about SNP Dan’s platform for election and a classic case of ‘independence at all costs over social justice’ – was devolution of the minimum wage, to create a universal living wage- as though this is the only way. (incidentally to be fair Labour aren’t much better! And to be fair to Dan there is much scope for debate on this – and he may have a point…but think about what he doen’t say.)

    1) Since 2010 wages haven’t been keeping up with inflation, including minimum wage – the living wage is based on the price of living, not merely the rate of inflation – the difference, about 1.50 higher than 6.31.

    2) Last year the Scot Govt introduced the Procument Reform Bill (to introduce a living wage to their employees) – but also voted against (with the Tories) to an amendment supported by Lib Dems, Greens, Labour that would extend this into private contracts with the pub sector. The reason cited by the SNP was EU law made it illegal. However this was denied by the EU, the legislation allows companies to make a legal challenge at a later date, but not necessarily prohibits it. Companies would unlikely challenge as they would lose!

    The SNP also failed to mention that under independence the EU law would still be binding. Presuming Scotland was still a member.

    (Also it shows the callousness towards the poor in England and Wales who will lose out with any rise in Scot min wage, or indeed vice versa for Scots – divide and rule.) And if you are female in work, think of your loyalty to your sisters elsewhere in the UK as 70% of below living wage earners are women!!! – Equality legislation is devolved!!! Criminal!!!

    3)The devolution of the minimum wage is a bad idea – why – becasue to plays into the hands of big business (small new businesses should get tax relief IMO). Basically they would hold the minimum wage to ransom so there can NEVER be an increase above the basic rate of inflation as Scotland would be in competition with rUK. More of Alex Salmond Thaterite/ Reaganomics with a kilt on, independence guff. Competing low corp and competing systems of minimum wage and a race to the bottom – who benefits – Starbucks and Macdonalds!

    A solid UK wide increase and companies would have no option but to pay unless they wanted to forfit entry into a market place of 60 million rather than 5 million (who gives a shit about a wee market like Scotland if you’re Burger King?)

    4) Blame Westmonster! is the cry!!!! because of course Westmonster haven’t increased wages with inflation since the decline – of course they haven’t THEY ARE TORIES, that what they do. Labour on the other hand have it in their manifesto to increase the min wage to 8 pounds/ above living wage in the next term if elected (Dan forgot to mention this!!!) But frankly it a much of a muchness, neither Lab or SNP are particularly progressive.

    5) In support of Dan – Seattle city govt recently broke records with its min wage policy promising to raise it to 15 dollars both private and public sector. If the SNP would commit publically to a significant increase in min wage/ challenge EU restrictions, rather than using it as a cynical excuse, above UK/ Labours plans then yes, i’d back devolution of the minimum wage!………but the chances of them doing that are a snowballs chance in hell.

    And finally….lets us remind ourself that when the minimum wage bill was origionally passed, Alex Salmond and the SNP opposed it. (Dan forgot that bit also).

    Feel free to respond Dan and correct me – you’re the professional politician so should know all this!

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      At the risk of another monologue how would a minimum wage in Scotland ‘show the callousness towards the poor in England and Wales’? You are locked in a worldview that you seem oblivious to yet appear confident in castigating everyone and anyone in this forum. It’s quite odd to observe.

      1. Bernicia says:

        Depends on what the settlement is for the minimum wage is and if the English regions are devolved also with the same power.

        If a government in (rUK or Scot) decides to set min wage at a higher rate than the other (or vice versa) above the rate of inflation, then the second govt can reduce min wage to level of inflation to attract new business/ investment (same as corp tax, infact combined with corp tax would exacerbate the prob) – this means that what you get is potentially both govts using ‘competition’ to maintain the min wage only at the rate of inflation or lower rather than above inflation – rather than at the real cost of the living wage. A unified banded living wage based on the cost of living is a much better option as ther would be no ‘competition’ but min wage based on need. Investors would have no bargaining position on it, so no potential ace to the bottom. This means if Scotland keeps it’s min wage only at the rate of inflation then the North East of England will have to follow suit to prevent services (call centres, online businesses, some low end financial services, engineering companies and apprenticeships and shop floor positions, construction companies operating on long distance contracts across borders etc – anything that is mobile or cross borders or register pay elsewhere – same between England and Wales – the law in both rUk and Scot would require some coordination?)

        In fact asymetry bwtween econ size would make it worse for Scots on low wage poss?.

        Incidently, I’m not overtly opposed to the min wage being devolved

        (and admittedly been a tad harsh on Dan (apologies Dan) – sure he’s a very smart and capable bloke with a great career ahead of him – who knows most likely a future Kenny Macaskil or Nicola Surgeon? and also in his defence, understanding ‘politics’ ‘econ’ stuff is important which he clearly does!)

        But would also be nice if things were a bit more up front about stuff rather than playing politics (especially after 2 years of being told Indy was to change this kind of thing).

        And I’m sure the people in this forum can look after themselves, so I wouldn’t worry so much. They’re smart enough and there are a lot of them. As for me, I should be looking for a new job.

      2. Bernicia says:

        And I forgot…the reason I suspect that SNP govt will continue to keep the min wage as low as electorally possible is based on their recent record or opposing the min wage, then voting against min wage for pub sector contractors and using the EU ‘competition law’ as an excuse – the Scot govt had no probs challenging when it came to the min price on alcohol so why the silence?

        To me this min wage thing is more indy politiking as I can’t see an SNP MP, however well intentioned influencing beyond the whip. Dan may get devolution for min wage but will not be able to influence what that amounts to in real terms.

  22. AnnaMac says:

    Interesting view from Dan Paris and not to be scoffed at. A few serial attention-seekers amongst the commenters but otherwise some valid points made in response to Dan – good luck to you!

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