When I saw the below graph my immediate thought was, “of course Tories want higher pay, they hang out with richer people.! The peer effects plays a big role in setting how much we think we’re worth. But I also wanted to check one alternative explanation: differences in purchasing power. In the interests of published failed trials (Ben Goldacre would be proud) I submit the following.
George Eaton posted the above chart earlier today showing that all MPs of all parties think they’re currently underpaid and that the proposed new proposed pay settlement is at the bottom of what they wanted. By the way, George if you’re referencing something like a YouGov survey, please link to the pdf. I had to spend 10 minutes extra googling. Anyway, here’s some more detail. There’s one MP I like in particular:
I thought that there’s a fair chunk of that around £60,000 to £90,000. I also noted that Tories tend to represent more expensive boroughs than Labour. Maybe the difference between Labour, Liberal and Tory MPs can be explained by how far £65,000 goes in different parts of the countries. So I crunched some numbers.
I used some out of date PPP stats for different regions from here, but they’re indicative enough. I used this map to split the regions between the parties. All very rough and ready, but I just want to check the size of the effect. The number in the final column shows the actual purchasing power adjusted salary asked for. Higher indicated more greed.
What I found was that Tories are slightly less greedy than they look and Labour slightly more greedy. But no, nothing remotely significant was discovered. The difference in purchasing power around the country is not large enough to explain away why Tory MPs think they’re worth £20k more than Labour MPs do.
For more on MPs pay, I’ll recommend this piece from Mark. He argues that MPs proposed pay increase is tolerable. It clears up a messy pensions system and it is not an 11% pay increase, annualised its more like 2.2%. That’s more than most public sector employees, but less than most executives are getting. He’s in good company, Norman Tebbit agrees with him…