by Ed West
Monday, 26
July 2021
Spotted
07:15

Nigel Farage is a model ex-politician

The former Ukip leader hasn't disgraced himself, unlike many former PMs
by Ed West
The feel when you get another Cameo request. Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

My least populist political opinion is that we should pay MPs £1m a year. Saying that, it would be impossible to raise their salaries because numerous hugely-popular online MPs would wail about nurses and teachers being the real heroes, and get 36,000 retweets.

Money doesn’t solve all problems — but it solves a lot of them, and if you want to raise the prestige or status of a career, paying more is a simple way to do it. Singapore has by the far the best-paid lawmakers in the world, and so Singaporean politics attracts the very brightest people, and the city-state is extremely well run. Intelligence doesn’t bestow honesty or humanity, but on average a group of very intelligent people will make better decisions than a team of men on the street.

Britain pays its MPs far less than what the brightest could make in a range of careers, and so we get MPs who are noticeably dimmer than the average person you’d meet in, say, finance; they’re probably even dimmer than journalists, which is saying something. I don’t want to single out anyone in particular, but some of the newer intake appear to be… intellectually challenged. It’s frightening that such people actually make laws.

Meanwhile, David Cameron always gave the impression of treating politics like some fun first job out of university, before he moved into the more serious business of making money. Try a couple of years as Prime Minister, and if it doesn’t work out get a real job. Whether or not it’s fair, he gave the air of treating the whole thing casually and, unsurprisingly, his time in office ended in total failure.

The poor pay given to politicians, in comparison with their peers, also creates the squalid, post-politics scramble to make as much money as possible, the inevitable result being the murky world of lobbying.

This invites corruption and detracts from the dignity of the office, the most undignified example being the ongoing scandal involving Cameron’s work for Lex Greensill.

Still, even that is noble in comparison to Tony Blair’s post-political career as a shill for middle-ranking dictators and all-round man-who-will-say-anything-for-money. (Blair was once paid fifty grand to address a conference of toilet roll manufactures.)

Then there is George Osborne, who seems to have every job in Britain at the moment, the latest being at the British Museum.

The only British politician who has raised himself in public esteem since leaving office is Nigel Farage. Before his recent move to GB News, the former Ukip leader caused widespread mirth when he signed up to Cameo – and, to paraphrase Bob Monkhouse, they’re still laughing.

 

Why would a politician soil their dignity by lobbying for Saudi Arabia or Kazakhstan, when they could be earning honest money by giving a shout-out to a low-level drug dealer in Battersea? It’s the perfect sunset career for arguably the most successful politician of our age.

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Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
11 months ago

Callaghan, Healey, Shore, Benn, Castle, Fowler, Whitelaw, Thatcher, Clarke, Hurd and Carrington. The recent past has produced truly substantial politicians, with a few honourable exceptions the current lot are mainly grandstanding, non entities, maybe it was ever thus.
Against my own prejudices, I have come to respect Mr Farage. He does not talk down to people, and is refreshingly, “what you see is what you get” . He is also respectful to those who disagree with him. His unabashed Britishness, makes him unusual in broadcasting, which makes you realise just how much the pendulum has shifted in 20 years.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
11 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

If he was a real Brit surely he’d pronounce his name like porridge (with As rather than O, I of course) instead of the the French way?? Only kidding..

Last edited 11 months ago by Liam O'Mahony
ralph bell
ralph bell
11 months ago

Nigel Farage is a man of the people with genuine beliefs, the others are all bullsh**ers and fakers.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
11 months ago

Picking up your first suggestion, a more modest idea. We could reduce the Lords to a Senate of 100 persons, and the Commons to say 200, and then divide the current costs among them, which should improve the quality in due course. Also not give any titles to politicians until they had irrevocably retired.

D Ward
D Ward
11 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

And the Welsh, Scots snd Northern Irish should pay for their additional “governments” (sic) out of their own taxes (i. e. Not subsided by English taxpayers)

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
11 months ago

The salutary counter-argument is the EU – this political behemoth pays out very well, but I don’t see the evidence that it has attracted better quality lawmakers. A nuclear physicist with an IQ of 150 would not get elected unless seconded to a party, and within a party you are instantly inside a machine where a chain of people want their cut. And our political process would be subject to the same pipeline of people who scratch each others backs in order to put people forward.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
11 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

China, on the other hand has ongoing and recent practice of placing engineers, scientists and technologists into high positions of responsibility as lawmakers.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
11 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

mmmm, not sure I would trust the direction of a country in the hands of a few 150 IQ scientists….. seeing how much damage ‘scientists’ have done to people in the last 18 months.
I would prefer to believe that, when given the time and space to discuss things and being informed by opposing views and arguments, the general population makes better choices for the long run…. I sort of like democracy even when it does not always fully suits me…

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
11 months ago

Comparing Cameron with Farage is quite unfair.
One is an arrogant, smug, deceitful and talentless snake-oil salesman – the other is Nigel Farage.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ian Barton
Michael James
Michael James
11 months ago

I’d still rather the people as a whole legislated more via referendums. I bet the brightest of our civil servants all voted Remain!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

Representative Democracy, a Republic, is needed because the common man is, as Carlin put it, – ‘You know how stupid the average person is? Well half of the population are stupider than them.’

I think to be able to vote one should have to pass a exam of A level complexity, covering history, economics, civics, Military, ecology, industry, medical, and Foreign Politics and economy.

Schools could prepare one, night classes complete it, and at the voting age of 24, one could register.

Michael James
Michael James
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

On the principle of ‘no taxation without representation’, should people denied the vote be exempt from tax?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

OK, you got me – and it goes back to the ancient Greeks, this discussion of universal democracy to citizens, meaning those who should ideally not be allowed to vote will eventually bring down a republic, but that no one can figure out an ideal way to decide who gets to vote, and who does not – and this has been debated 2500 years…..

Intellectual anti-democrats such as Socrates and Plato, for instance, argued that the majority of the people, because they were by and large ignorant and unskilled, would always get it wrong. In these intellectuals’ view, government was an art, craft or skill, and should be entrusted only to the skilled and intelligent, who were by definition a minority. They denied specifically that the sort of knowledge available to and used by ordinary people, popular knowledge if you like, was really knowledge at all. At best it was mere opinion, and almost always it was ill-informed and wrong opinion.
A further variant on this view was that the masses or the mob, being ignorant and stupid for the most part, were easily swayed by specious rhetoric -“

“Then there was the view that the mob, the poor majority, were nothing but a collective tyrant.”

One big Greek guy said “: democracy is appalling, since it represents the rule of the poor, ignorant, fickle and stupid majority over the socially and intellectually superior minority, the world turned upside down.” ‘BUT….,’ and then justified it as there not being a good system to replace it..

Michael James
Michael James
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I would add that the groupthink, fashions and fantasies of intellectuals have done far more harm than the muddled common sense of the masses. I agree with William Buckley when he said he would rather be ruled by the first twenty names in the New York phone directory than by the professors at Harvard University.

Last edited 11 months ago by Michael James
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Most teachers in the UK are guardian readers well to the left of Starmer .
Do you really want them to have even more influence than they do now ?

Last edited 10 months ago by Alan Osband
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
11 months ago

Worth a try, but my fear is that we would end up with fiendishly clever bullsh**ters rather than just utterly stupid bullsh**ters.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
11 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Yes I’m with your faction. The last thing we need is clever MPs. It’s a pretty dull job being lobby fodder which is why so many of them get into dangerous side hustles or affairs. The brighter people are the less than can tolerate boredom. Perhaps we should do the opposite screen out anyone with an IQ over 100.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
11 months ago

We in Ireland pay our politicians far too much (well they pay themselves really or get their buddies to sit on ‘independent’ pay review bodies to do so) and they are abysmally bad at their jobs! ..with a few notable exceptions of course.
Politics, Parenting, Management: 3 crucially important jobs often carried out by people utterly ill equipped to do so in terms of skills, aptitude and of course no academic qualifications are needed! Most of ours are silly primary school teachers or have no academic achievements whatever! Unless you count shysterism!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
11 months ago

Surely politicians’ pay is but a small fraction of their total ‘income’ with much coming from corrupt insider dealings etc. Perhaps huge salaries will therefore attract more corrupt politicians? After all, huge incomes attract the best criminal minds whose stock and trade are corruption, lies, fraud and false promises! Every year the difference becomes less and less clear. Clearly truth, honesty, honour, selflessness etc. are well out of date concepts these days so we might as well pay smart crooks well rather than pay idiot crooks at all?

D Ward
D Ward
11 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Indeed. We’d be better off with older MPs who have paid off their mortgages and already accrued their pensions, so they aren’t in it just for the money but rather to give something back.

And we need to quarter the size of the Lords, too.