A journalist has sparked outrage after he said politicians deserve higher pay because “it’s more difficult to be an MP than it is to be a nurse”.
James Max, who currently presents the Early Breakfast Show on Talkradio, appeared on the Jeremy Vine show this morning to discuss whether MPs are underpaid for the work they do.
Newplans being discussed by theIndependent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) could see Britain’s politicians get a pay boost that outstrips public sector workers.
The watchdog, which sets salaries, has proposed that it is given new powers to vary the annual pay for MPs “below or above” public sector pay.
MPs’ pay – which currently stands at £81,932 a year – has been closely linked to public sector pay rates of pay over the past five years.
But Ipsa wants greater leeway to make changes in pay – arguing that the Covid crisis means annual public sector pay rates could be a “much less reliable guide to changes in earnings than they are in ordinary times”.
It comes as Unions lashed out at a 3 per cent pay rise for NHS staff, accusing ministers of failing to recognise their efforts during the pandemic.
The Government – which has been branded “shambolic” for how it handled the issue – was already under attack for recommending a 1per cent pay rise despite the incredible pressure NHS staff have been under.
Prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Wednesday night: “Our NHS staff have been heroic throughout the pandemic, providing care and saving lives.
“To recognise the extraordinary contribution they have made they are receiving a 3per cent pay rise this year.”
Justifying a pay rise for MPs, Mr Max said; “MPs, I think, are underpaid for what they are and what they do. The problem is – this, again, becomes political because they say how can you possibly give our MP [a pay rise], what do they do compared to these people who are saving our lives.
“It’s actually, and possibility, far more difficult to be an MP than it is to be a nurse.” Before adding; “The point is that an MP could be a nurse but a nurse couldn’t necessarily be an MP.”
His comments were met quickly with anger and criticism on social media.
Nurses United UK pointed out the “physical and emotional” impact the pandemic has had on NHS workers over the past year.
Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for the grassroots group said: “It’s really impressive to see how triggered the elite are when their privilege is criticised.
“MPs earn more than the top 1 per cent, get given real terms pay increases and you can even give PPE contracts to your mates!
“Nurses have had their physical and emotional health sacrificed by this government. Some of them have died because MPs did nothing to stop them wearing bin bags.
“The journalist who made these comments is doing this to drive people to pay attention to him. He doesn’t deserve it. Our attention is on this government refusing to protect the safety of our colleagues and our patients.”