Darling under pressure to condemn 11% payrise for MPs


darling  By Martin Kelly
Labour MP Alistair Darling has come under pressure to say whether he supports a proposed payrise of eleven per cent for MPs.
Calls for the former Chancellor to clarify his position have intensified today after a newspaper revealed he had refused to answer questions on the issue when put to him.

According to the Daily Record, the Labour MP who also leads the anti-independence Better Together campaign, was one of 26 Scottish MPs who refused to reply when asked for their views on the pay increase.  Mr Darling recently hit the headlines after it emerged he had been paid more than £170,000 for after dinner speeches, including more than £30,000 for addressing two meetings in a single day.

Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has contacting the leader of the No campaign to ask him if he thinks that he is not already remunerated appropriately by the public purse.

Mr Thompson said:

“I’m contacting Alistair Darling as the people of Scotland deserve to know exactly what the leader of the No campaign thinks Westminster pay should be set at.

“All six SNP MPs made their position crystal clear – they said No to a rise.  But dozens of Scottish MPs dodged the question – including the man who wants Westminster to control Scotland.

“Mr Darling is in charge of a campaign that is desperately trying to tell Scotland that we shouldn’t be taking decisions for ourselves – therefore he must not be allowed to dodge the question.  The decisions he takes to rake in £170,000 form public speaking and then, by default silence, hoping for a pay rise in his part time job as an MP is unacceptable.

“Only a Yes vote in next year’s referendum will enable the people of Scotland to make decisions closer to home – saving the £50 million we currently pay for Westminster’s running costs – and have accountable and value-for-money elected representatives to help build a fairer and more prosperous country.”

In its article, the Daily Record branded the MPs, all from pro-Union parties, as “cowards” for their failure to reply.

Amongst others who ignored the newspaper were Mr Darling’s party colleague’s Ian Davidson and Jim Murphy.  Also refusing to clarify his position when asked by the newspaper was former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

News that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority had decided to award MPs a whopping eleven per cent pay increase, taking an MP’s salary to £74,000, has caused anger amongst members of the public, many of whom have been forced to take a pay freeze and in some cases a pay cut due to the state of the economy.

However it emerged that at least one Scottish Labour MP has come out in favour of the lucrative pay award which has caused fury amongst members of the public.

Central Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe disputed claims MPs were receiving an increase to their pay.  The Labour MP told the Daily Record: “This is not an 11 per cent pay rise, it is a package that in the end will be cost-neutral.  Pensions and other expenses are to be cut to make up the balance.”

Donohoe appeared on BBC Radio Scotland this week accusing critics of the payrise of making “another kneejerk reaction” and of not knowing about changes to MPs conditions which included the loss of the so-called redundancy payment made when an MP loses their seat which the Labour MP said had been worth a “significant amount of money”.

Supporters of the pay award have claimed that the standard of MP might fall unless an appropriate level of salary is maintained.  However critics have countered that members of the public rarely vote for candidates based on their experience and ability, but instead opt to vote along party lines.