What about all those dual mandates?

Given the Ulster Unionists only have one MP and she doesn’t sit in the NOrthern Ireland Assembly, they clearly think they are on solid ground when they call attention to the large number of double salaries going to Northern Irish public representatives. Rod McCune of the Westminster Unionist Association lays out the argument:

“There is a serious ongoing problem with dual mandate politicians. In Scotland we have Alex Salmond MP MSP trying to do two jobs and actively seeking a third as First Minister. And although in Wales David Davies MP has just stood down from the Welsh Assembly, in Northern Ireland sixteen MPs are also in the Assembly, a number of those having recently pocketed ministerial positions.”

“These politicians may not believe it, but they aren’t superhuman and just like anyone else they cannot be in two places at once. What employer in the real world would accept a full-time employee who can’t go to their place of work because they are busy working elsewhere? We all know the answer, absolutely none.”

“The system relies on the decency of politicians not to exploit it, but many have been seriously found wanting. By their actions they contribute significantly to the public’s low opinion of politicians. The only solution is legislation that bans the second salary and allowances, we’ll see how many of these fat cat politicians take second job when they won’t receive an extra penny.”

“The Westminster Unionist Association will lobby the Government, political parties and individual politicians to support a campaign to ban dual mandates. We are already pursuing a number of options including a private member’s Bill to put this issue firmly on the agenda and get it resolving once and for all.”

  • Bigger Picture

    Funny how this is raised when their only MP wasnt selected for the Assembly because she has never given a policy interview in her life! If the UU’s had a half decent MP they would have stood at the Assembly elections.

  • pith

    Did Sylvia Hermon seek selection for the Assembly?

  • Ginfizz

    The electorate decide who represents them. If they want to vote for someone who is already in public office that is their perogative. I don’t believe anyone (with the exception of peers running for the House of Commons, obviously) should be excluded from having their name on a ballot.

    Generally the people who make the most noise about this are jumped up little councillors or European “Parliamentarians” who want to build up their own prestige.

  • fair_deal

    I am sympathetic with the idea of reducing multiple mandates but a period of transition is required ie a sunset clause rather than an immediate bar to it. Also this employs the standard populist arguments which just aren’t good enough.

    Multiple mandate reform is also one of those issues were you have to get the ‘offender’ to pass the reform, so calling them a pack of money-grabbing b’s is probably not the greatest starting point if you are serious about reform.

    The points to stress to politicos is that multiple mandates are unhealthy for party development as it promotes personality politics leaving parties vulnerable to electoral harm through defection, retirement or death. It also acts as a unneceesary bar to increasing the proportion of people involved in politics through position hogging again not good for party development.

    “What employer in the real world would accept a full-time employee who can’t go to their place of work because they are busy working elsewhere?”

    The employer is the electorate and the electorate voted them into such positions with full knowledge of their other roles. So this line of argument is not the wisest to employ. Multi-mandate concerns can easily be painted as anti-democratic

    “The system relies on the decency of politicians not to exploit it, but many have been seriously found wanting.”

    Examples of the many?

    “The only solution is legislation that bans the second salary and allowances”

    They don’t receive a full second salary already and it is somewhat disingenuous to imply otherwise. For example, MP’s received a third of their Assembly salary the last time I checked.

    The salary I can see the argument for but why cut the office allowances?

    PS Why does the dual mandate concern not extend to councillors and MLAs?

  • Ignited

    Peter Robinson has already suggested that DUP MLAs and MPs who are also Cllrs will be considering stepping down from their council seats and allow new faces to start coming through.

    The problem with the UUP coming out with this now is that all their current MLAs who are also Cllrs should be immediately resigning their council seats and through co-option (or whatever protocol each council has) getting new blood into the dying party.

    Actions speak louder than words…..

  • pith

    “Peter Robinson has already suggested that DUP MLAs and MPs who are also Cllrs will be considering stepping down from their council seats …”

    They? He surely.

  • Ignited

    Pith

    The sychophants will follow suit.

    My point being that it should be the UUP taking the step and not letting the DUP get there first and have the appearence of the UUP just falling in line.

  • philip

    I believe i started this months ago in a letter to a local newspaper and my MP/MLA/Alderman/chair of Assemby committee etc took exception. The fact is the Irish have already made unlawful dual mandates sitting at local goverment. It was always the intention of the SoS to make the practice unlawful here – but i guess that is Stormont’s jurisdiction now.

  • Disgruntled

    Where did Rodders say this? I’m, in theory, a member of the Westminster Unionist Association [it was meant to be the UUP’s ‘mainland’ branch], but it’s literally been years since it did anything. Or if it has done something within living memory, Rodders obviously doesn’t like the look of my face as he never emailed me (or others of a similar ilk) to tell us about it. It was as cliquey a nest of diehard Turtlespawn as it’s possible to imagine. As far as McCune’s point goes – when he was the UUP’s westminster candidate in north antrim, I didn’t hear anything from him in his campaign literature saying, “and in the wildly unlikely event that you send me to the house of Commons, I won’t be doing any work as a barrister ‘on the side'”. Four years on, that death knell result we got in 2003 tolls ever louder if this is the best we can do in response to Paisley and McGunness laughing at the rest of us.

  • As Disgruntled says, what is the Westminster Unionist Association anyway? I don’t see any mention of it on the UUP website. It seems to function like Cecil Walker’s North Belfast Association, accepting members by invitation only.

    The problem with banning dual mandates is that there are then too many vacant posts for a body politic of limited talent. Also, if you subtract all the councillors from the UU benches at Stormont, well, you don’t have many left.

  • vyulgvyuk

    “Funny how this is raised when their only MP wasnt selected for the Assembly because she has never given a policy interview in her life! If the UU’s had a half decent MP they would have stood at the Assembly elections. ”

    “Did Sylvia Hermon seek selection for the Assembly?”

    No she didn’t seek selection to run as an Assembly candidate which makes the above statement bizarre.

  • IJP

    It’s funny how this is raised when the Ulster Unionists don’t have any people on this particular dual mandate – whereas it wasn’t when they were.

    As indicated above, the people decide who represents them. If the dual mandate is an issue, they can always vote for other candidates.

    Personally I think it makes perfect sense for MPs also to be MLAs. I have more difficulty with Councillors holding dual or trial mandates, as their role at local level is quite different and who represent different boundaries. But again, the people may decide.

  • vhjvyulkvyl

    Yeah, better tell Naomi Long

  • nuil3w

    ahem sorry, I meant Cllr Long MLA

  • Bigger Picture

    vyulgvyuk

    I wouldn’t consider the statement,

    “Funny how this is raised when their only MP wasnt selected for the Assembly because she has never given a policy interview in her life! If the UU’s had a half decent MP they would have stood at the Assembly elections”

    Bizarre.

    Lets look at the situation with Lady Slyvia Hermon MP. When in her life has she ever been interviewed on tv giving an in depth policy interview? When has she ever successfully highlighted the role the UUP (apparently) plays at Westminster? Answer….. Never

    As an MP she should be the benchmark for all other members of her party considering it is the highest legislature to be elected to in this country. However she comes nowere near that mark. If on the other hand she was a capable and effective MP i am sure the UUP would have been bending over backwards to make sure she stood in the Assembly elections.

    She decided not to stand, the UUP said thank goodness we can get ‘decent’ people elected and then promptly got a hiding.

    All in all, if the UUP had have had an effective MP they would have made sure she stood at the Assembly elections and then this issue would never have been raised.

  • WUA member

    There were a lot of complaints about members of the Assembly getting paid when it was not sitting. Therefore why would tax payers want to pay “double jobbers” who in fact can’t fulfil both roles? One can only assume those people that are defending this policy are those benefiting from it.

    As far as I’m aware the argument is not against dual mandates but against dual salaries. Why should “double jobbers” receive any second salary at all if they can’t perform both jobs to the standard expected of them? The office allowances are related in that “double jobbers” can claim for employees (such as family members) who can supposedly work in two offices at the one time. This is unsatisfactory.

    Now that some parties (having selfishly wasted people’s time for years) have now seen fit to take the glory for themselves and go into government, this is a real issue that needs resolved. I presume that’s why it has been raised.

    “Bigger Picture”, why are you trying to blame Sylvia Hermon for this? Your arguments are pathetic. The fact is that due to her hard work and effort in North Down if she had chosen to stand she would have topped the poll. However, (and for whatever reason), she chose not to. Therefore can you kindly deal with the facts and outline some reasons why other MPs should get paid for the impossible.

    Finally, “Disgruntled”, as a member of the WUA myself, I must say you are talking utter garbage. The WUA holds regular meetings and events and has done so for the past couple of years. In addition Rodney, as well as the vice-chair and secretary, have always made their contact details available, which are widely accessible. If you were actually that bothered I’m not sure how you could not have come across these.

  • theincrowd

    Disgruntled
    You are wrong, very wrong about the WUA not meeting. I was invited to a meeting at which their speaker was Peter Robinson MP, MLA, Councillor etc. Yes, they added to his workload. Has Sylvia ever spoken to this fine body of unionists?

  • Valenciano

    Does the Westminster Unionist assoc represent all Unionists or is it just an offshoot of the UUP?

  • pith

    Bigger picture, I have never heard of virtual hyprocrisy before so thanks for presenting that case study.

  • theincrowd

    Does the Westminster Unionist assoc represent all Unionists or is it just an offshoot of the UUP? (Valenciano)

    It is a UUP association but as the UUP has diminished we seem to be fishing in the wider unionist pond for speakers. Well, would you want to listen to Sylvia every month?

  • Disgruntled

    How exactly does Rodney, and all his vice pieces of furniture making their ‘contact details widely available’ help when the important matter is what he and they do with mine? And what they’ve done with mine is make FA use of it. I’d be bitterly interested in hearing about these tonnes of recent meetings that McCune hasn’t bothered to invite me to – care to tell me, rather too late to be any use, what they were?

  • Disgruntled

    And to answer Valenciano’s question – does the WUA represent all Unionists or is it just an offshoot of the UUP? – rather more honestly than hitherto: it doesn’t even represent mainland Ulster Unionists! I know 3 other anti-agreement/Donaldsonite/non-thinking-the-sun-shone-out-of-the-Turtle’s-arrrse/call them what you wills who paid their £££ to the WUA and their experience of it has been exactly the same as mine. Just like the YUs – the leadership creepy crawlies are notified of what’s happening, the rest of us aren’t. A very poor show, and one that reflects suitably on McCune.

  • Roger

    One of my main problems is with Paisley.

    He has the following responsibilites

    Leader of the DUP
    Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church
    MP
    MLA
    First Minister
    Privey Councillor
    Editor of a magazine/newspaper (Small Scale)

    How can this man devote enough time to any of these roles, his record as MEP was appalling, hes in his 80’s and needs to cut back on his responsibilities because frankly hes not doing a good enough job.

  • Philip

    http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=82231&pt=n

    Why am i not surprised!

    “The decision to raise the money from just under £50,000 to £70,000 was signed off just days before the parties took up power.

    As the smiles and handshakes were taking place at Stormont last week with the world watching power being transferred to a local Assembly, politicians there knew they had something else to smile about. More money.
    It turns out the Northern Ireland Secretary of State was preparing to give them an extra lift in their office costs.

    Those are the expenses that allow the MLAs to employ people, in some cases close relatives, to help carry out their constituency work.

    It also helps pay the rent for office accommodation. The package at the end of the last Assembly stood at £48,000.

    Now it has been revealed that, just days before the parties were due to take up the reins again, the Secretary of State signed off on allowing them an increase.

    But it was no ordinary increase. It amounts to around 45 per cent and means the total they now get has risen from £48,000 to £70,000 a year.

    It means the total package each MLA gets has risen to over £110,000, of course that goes up again if an MLA has extra responsibilities like being a Committee Chair or has speaker duties.”

  • pith

    Roger,

    Leader of the DUP – figurehead.

    Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church – when’s the tour of Brazil or is he just sticking to Rasharkin again this year?

    MP – doesn’t go much, all those Brits see.

    MLA – What’s Mervyn Storey for?

    First Minister – what’s Junior for?

    Privy Councillor – a title not a job.

    Editor of a magazine/newspaper (Small Scale)- Is the Protestant Telegraph still on the go?

    His record as an MEP was appalling. Agreed.

  • WUA member,

    I know of someone whose name was passed on to the WUA as a potential member and no one ever got back to her. In addition I have not seen any mention of the WUA on the UUP website. It seems that the WUA was based around various people who used to work for the UUP back in the days when the MPs couldn’t be squeezed into a telephone box.

  • mchinadog

    The words HYPOCRITES or perhaps SOUR GRAPES seem to be in order. When the UU had more MP’s than the one they have now it did not seems a problem for them to have dual roles. Almost, if not all of their MLA’s are Councillors. I think they should look at their own house and put it in order instead of gripping about others, perhaps the problem is that they cannot work as hard as the rest of the MP’s. I feel that the roles of MP and MLA are complementary perhaps the role of them being Councillors may be a conflict but that may be a technical problem when making legislation. What business is it of the WUA anyway I think if the UU started in Northern Ireland to sort themselves out it would be more profitable for them or perhaps they are beyond redemption and the latter is my wish

  • Bigger Picture

    WUA,

    I don’t know really why im wasting a post replying to your message since your undoubtedly one of the uup crowd that has nothing more to offer unionism and instead are quite happy to sit back and offer a running commentary on the failings of politicians and on the DUP running the show, but here it goes…

    There is no doubt that if sylvia hermon had of stood at the Assembly election she would have been comfortably elected, of that there is no doubt. However my point was not whether or not she would have got elected but rather that she would have been found out on a local level what an ineffective rep she is ,to put an example to you inthecrowd states,

    “Well, would you want to listen to Sylvia every month?”

    I have never once heard her giving a policy interview or trying to convey how the UUP should move forward. Instead any time i have seen her in London she has been hobb knobbing with Labour MPs quite oblivious to the demise of her party back home. I am not putting the blame on Slyvia Hermon instead what i am highlighting is this, The UUP’s only MP is not a seasoned politician therefore not local politics material (quite happy to be in London out of the road) so instead of the UU’s trying to start and rebuild, get new faces in, work from the ground up and start to claw the ground back from the DUP, they decide to attack those that are succeeding where they have failed. It is another case of the UUP being out of touch with society..voters have elected them and if they keep on electing them they are obviously delivering for their communities. Maybe the UU’s should focus on their own communities first and not be so caught up complaining about positions they used to regard so dearly
    .

    mchinadog,

    Agree with you 100%

  • pith

    I agree that Sylvia Hermon would have made a very bad President of the United States if she had run for it which she didn’t and that reflects badly on the UUP for not selecting her when she didn’t seek selection.

  • Bigger Picture

    Pith,

    Sarcasm the lowest form of humour. However if they had a decent MP there would have been more pressure on them to stand and take the party forward. She didn’t and no one lost any sleep. Thats my point.

    Now the UUP are in a position which they have never experienced before and instead of working their way out of it have decided to launch a petty attack on those that have taken their place. Not a bright future for the UUP

  • Disgruntled

    I still want to know where Rodders posted his original message to the world (minus those membrs of the WUA he can’t be bothered to communicate with/isn’t competent enough to CC on an email/feels factionally are better off NOT knowing what the WUA’s up to, if it’s actually up to anything*).

    *Still haven’t heard anything yet about these bazillions of meetings Rodders and the vice furniture are supposed to have been up to.

  • pith

    Bigger picture,

    “no one lost any sleep”. Except you maybe.

    Thump away at the UUP for what it did do but spare us the criticism of what it didn’t do. The retrospective if makes for a very poor argument.

  • Bigger Picture

    Pith

    What it didn’t do and what it continues not to do has put it in the tangled mess it is now in. For them to then come on and attack others who have succeeded where they have failed and hold the positions that they used to cherish so dearly is complete hyprocisy and leaves them open to the crticism of what they didn’t do and how the failed the unionist electorate-to thump away at them after they released this statement is very much justified.

    ‘“no one lost any sleep”. Except you maybe.’ Slept fine thanks 🙂

  • pith

    Bigger picture,

    I’m getting out before this gets anymore like Father Ted doing small and far away.

    Hermon ran for selection and failed – grounds for argument.

    Hermon ran for selection and succeeded – grounds for argument.

    Hermon didn’t run for selection – where’s that toy cow gone?

  • mchinadog

    PITH

    I totally agree with BIGGER PICTURE and like you I think it is time you got out, you are not adding to the thread at all only writing words with no meaning or thought……count sheep and so to sleepzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • J.Brown

    I am glad someone has said something about this scandal. It just highlights the selfishness of our politicians. Having read the comments it seems most posters are happy to about have a good bitch about so and so instead of addressing this issue.

    It’s very easy for someone with a personal chip on their shoulder to come on and slag someone off but what credibility does it have when it’s done so anonymously?

    For example, disgruntled what is your agenda? You’ve not mentioned anything about the substantive issues. What you’ve said about the WUA in “literally years” has already been contradicted by two people. If it’s been “literally years” did you and your pals pay a lifetime membership? Why don’t you deal with the issue and find somewhere else to whine.

  • Disgruntled

    Killer argument ‘J Brown’, save, doh, for the fact that the defenders of Rodders have all been equally shy of using their own names. But let’s go onto your even more killing point, about all those detailed defences of Rodney’s schoolboy crap (you know, not inviting the people he doesn’t like to WUA things) – nobody’s actually offered one! No one, your good self included, has yet set out all of these thousands of events which Rodney is supposed to have organised. So go ahead, tell us all: what has the WUA done in the last year? McCunne is minted from exactly the same school of YU careerists who thought it so terribly clver to exclude Trimble-sceptical epople from their meetings. And it’s had pretty much the same result – pisspoor membership rates & a total lack of political achievement. Rodney, as per your parliamentary candidature, you’re a politically ambitious man, you’re just, as per this pissante cliqueishness, not a very politically bright one.