Congratulations to Martin Kettle in the Guardian for figuring out how to blame Margaret Thatcher (and Rupert Murdoch) for the MPs' expenses scandal.
In 1983, when Gordon Brown first went to the Commons, an MP earned just over £15,000. It was an absurdly low figure even then. So what did those who could have changed the system do? They did nothing. Margaret Thatcher refused to give MPs the increase they needed or the framework for future salary review that would have put parliamentary financing on a defensible basis. And John Major, Tony Blair and Brown all followed her lead. Today's £65,000 parliamentary salary is better in real terms than 1983, and it is certainly a good income, but it is not high when compared with legislators in many other countries, or with the professions with whom MPs might sensibly be compared.I'm not sure about the last part, though. Only the very best of the profession with which MPs might sensibly be compared earn £1,000 a night, and they generally have to split their fee with the agency.