A guest post from Matt Selwood on a worker's wage for the London Mayor.
Representing the people?
One good thing about electoral campaigns which (lets be blunt) have no chance of winning, is that they have the capacity to raise interesting issues and spark debate. Despite the numerous issues I have with the SWP, Lindsey German's recent call for London Mayoral candidates to take a wage closer to the average Londoner has made me think.
Historically, only the Communist Party and Militant MPs in Parliament have taken a skilled workers wage - but the SSP MSPs did so more recently at Holyrood. Originating in the Paris Commune, the concept of 'rising with the class, not above the class' is an alluring one - and also has a practical, political impact at a time of increasing anger over MPs expenses and the remoteness of 'the political class'.
When stripped of Marxist jargon, the basic idea is a strong populist one - when claiming to represent us, politicans should be *of* us, and not the elite. With so many temptations towards corruption (even in its mildest form of sympathising more with ones own class, which is almost inevitable), a countervailing pressure may well be needed to enable elected representatives to understand the lived reality of the majority of their constituents.
MPs and MEPs currently earn £60K (before expenses) per annum. GLA members earn £50K. In contrast, the average wage is under £25K. Is it time to re-examine the call for our elected representatives to more closely live the experiences of their constituents?
Cllr Matt Sellwood is Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council Green Group