Daniel Hannan: The real mystery is not why so many MPs resigned, but why so many others stayed – News Block

Lord Hannan of Kingsclere was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020 and is now Chairman of the Free Trade Institute.

Surely the real story is that 90 percent of parliamentarians want stay. Despite the long hours and the loss of privacy; despite losing the presumption of innocence; despite the universally recognized convention that parliamentarians can be insulted, slandered and slandered, but can never retaliate in the same way; despite being subject to different rules than others (but not in the way that is usually assumed); despite all this, about 580 of the 650 are prepared to continue.

Most commentators approach this question backwards, asking why more MPs than usual are resigning. Applying Occam’s razor, I’d say there’s a pretty obvious explanation.

MPs used to receive a lump sum if they lost their seats in an election, but not if they decided to withdraw. Recently, this payout has been slashed, meaning MPs hoping to be defeated have far less financial incentive to endure humiliation. This could explain why there are proportionally more Conservative (43) and SNP (six) pensioners than Labor (13).

Like I say, the more interesting question is why people still queue up to get work done.

The explanation normally offered in comment threads – “duh, the money” – doesn’t add up. Suppose he were a barrister elected to Parliament in his early thirties. He would probably see his salary drop a bit, although his pension might improve marginally. However, what is far more serious is that his salary would stagnate, instead of increasing year by year until he became a partner. When we factor in lost future earnings, most MPs choose to be much worse off.

If not the remuneration, what attracts them? Although it is not fashionable to say it, most are motivated by wanting to do things. We use different words for this impulse. In the people with whom we agree we call it “principle” or “service”; on the other side, we call it “ideology” or “dogma.” But, call it what you want, it is what pushes most politicians into public life.

That’s why you find MPs in voting lobbies when they’d rather be at their children’s Christmas plays. That is why they take constituency cases without any expectation of thanks. That’s why they suffer slights and slander, slings and arrows, without complaining (more than between them when, believe me, they can moan like nobody else).

But what if your desire to get things done is thwarted? What if MPs go through all the stress only to find that they are powerless in the face of quangocracy? That, without a doubt, is the nastiest cut of all.

Here, it seems to me, is a better explanation of why some MPs give up. As long as he feels like he’s making a difference, he can take a lot. You don’t care that your college contemporaries earn more than you. You don’t mind long drives. You might even be able to justify the stress in your marriage.

But if you have to put up with these things while seeing that the country is badly governed by its permanent bureaucracies, you get discouraged.

So what could we do to attract a higher caliber of parliamentarians? Most of my suggestions will be very unpopular, but here goes.

First, to restore the principle that the voters alone should determine the composition of the House of Commons. Throw out IPSA, the Privileges Committee and the rest of the post-Nolan regulatory infrastructure, and submit MPs to the most powerful external regulator of all, the electorate.

Second, encourage parliamentarians to have outside interests. Let’s go back to the days when the sessions began in the afternoon, so that the deputies could continue with the jobs they had before they were elected. Pay them less, by all means. But at least try to have citizen-legislators instead of state employees.

Third, to free up parliamentarians’ time, delegate power to local authorities. The parliament must determine the issues that cannot be dealt with closer to the people, such as defense, migration and elements of taxation. Parliamentarians are not there to provide a queue-jumping service for aggressive voters.

Fourth, while parliamentarians should cede power to councils, they should take it back from bureaucracies. One of the biggest disappointments of the last three years has been the way in which powers retaken from the EU have been transferred directly to national regulators.

If you want a measure of how supine MPs are to our quangos, consider the topic of PEPs, highlighted by Nigel Farage. Almost every Member will have suffered some foolish thing at the hands of the banks, for example a child not allowed to open an account. If they all agree on something, it is to put an end to this nonsense. However, they have not been able to do so, such is their position vis-à-vis the administrative state.

Fifth, and I mean this very seriously, expect better from parliamentarians. Human beings respond to expectations. If you start from the assumption that the majority of parliamentarians are thieves, you will end up with a representative of lesser caliber than if you assume that the majority are patriots. Obviously, he will make the good people and the bad people wither away; but the quality will improve, all things being equal, if you keep the MP at a higher level.

One last observation. If you don’t agree with all this, if you think the fundamental problem is that MPs are venal, partisan and selfish, why not try it yourself? In The Republic (Book 1, 346-347), Plato argues that if honorable and intelligent men do not want to serve in government, they end up being ruled by cunning and stupid men: “The main penalty is to be ruled by someone worse than yourself.” ”.

If you value your free time, your family, and your independence too much to get into the dirty business of politics, then stop and consider the sacrifice being made by those who decide differently. Simply acknowledging that they are doing something difficult will, in itself, tend to make them behave better. It won’t solve everything; but it’s a start.

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