Police and pay

The first thing Prime Minister Blair achieved was to get more bobbies on the beat here in Islington – for a few hours. They left for Downing Street when the Blairs did. Now Prime Minister Brown is achieving record numbers of police on London’s streets; some 17,000 22,500 of them at the last count, demonstrating over pay.

Crime is Islington residents’ top concern, and I’ve found near-total support for the police getting their recommended pay rise in full. It does seem unfair that teachers, who can go on strike, get the recommended pay rise; but the police, who can’t, don’t. And what’s the point of having independent pay review bodies if their advice is ignored?

But then it gets tricky, because MPs too have been recommended a pay rise. That’s much less popular. There’s widespread distaste that MPs might be seen to vote up their own pay when other public servants are being asked to tighten their belts. Local Labour MP Emily Thornberry has said she won’t vote herself a higher pay rise, although she’s still complaining about the big pay cut she took to become an MP. At £60k a year plus expenses, a backbench MP still earns more than twice the average police officer’s pay.

It’s a bad sign for Gordon Brown when Government MPs are out of touch. Ms Thornberry’s description last year of a £572k house purchase as ‘cheap and cheerful’ went down badly. So did Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s comments this week about not walking around areas like Hackney late at night. Where are those police when you need them?


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