It’s often said that for all their talk about fairness, elected politicians live in a world a million miles away from ordinary people — a much higher salary, multiple houses, “gold-plated” pensions and a history of abusing expense claims.
One MP (Member of UK Parliament) putting her money where her mouth is on changing this is 23-year-old Nadia Whittome, elected in the UK’s general election last week as the Labour Party representative for Nottingham East.
The UK’s 650 MPs each earn a salary of £79,000 a year ($106,000), which works out at around £55,000 ($73,000) after tax.
As reported in The Independent, Whittome has pledged to take home a “worker’s wage” of £35,000 ($47,000) a year after tax until wages rise for people working as carers, nurses and teaching assistants. The remaining £20,000 ($27,000) will be donated to local Nottingham charities, working to help everyone from sex workers to homeless people and families struggling financially.
“I think it’s really important for workers’ representatives to be on salaries that reflect workers more closely,” the MP told the newspaper.
Thank you everyone.
It is the greatest honour of my life to be elected as the socialist MP for Nottingham East, my home city.
I will be a new kind of MP, inspired by radical women of colour across the world.
— Nadia Whittome (@NadiaWhittome) December 13, 2019
“And it’s not berating MPs for taking the full salary. It’s not saying MPs don’t deserve the £79,000. It’s saying workers need a pay rise – carers, teaching assistants, nurses – and I’ll take mine when they take theirs.”
The average UK salary is just under £30,000 ($40,000) a year, and £35,000 ($47,000) for full-time workers. But there are obvious fluctuations depending on demographics and role: men aged 40-49 earn the most, while roles such as Dental Nurse (£19,000 / $25,000) earn far below the average.
UK MPs in the past have been slated for selling their influence to private companies and to pull in extremely lucrative speaking gigs. Others are criticised for personally benefiting from political chaos they themselves created: staunch pro-Brexit MP Jacob Rees Mogg is estimated to have earned £7m from investments since the UK’s referendum on leaving the European Union.
Whittome, a hate-crime worker, was elected with 64% of the vote, standing on a platform of ending austerity, advancing the social model of disability and reestablishing the connection between parliament and ignored communities.
The new MP added to the Independent: “It’s about giving back to the labour movement as well – my local area and grassroots projects supporting people, but also directly enabling workers to go on strike.”
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