We are increasingly hearing the argument from our MPs that if you pay rubbish, you will get rubbish.
There are two problems with that argument. The first is that Nadira and Cameron yesterday left the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where the nurses and midwives are indeed paid rubbish, but were still absolutely brilliant.
They were motivated by something alien to so many of our MPs, a genuine care for people. They were also, for the most part, a standing rebuke to UKIP, BNP and others who knock immigrants and the role they play in our society.
The second and clinching argument is that our MPs have been looking after themselves extremely well, but they are for the most part of abysmal quality. (The same could be said of our top bankers).
In fact, the reverse of the argument is true. If you make it a gravy train, you get people who are primarily interested in gravy. Like Malik and Moran.
I was reminded forcibly on this when writing my recent post about Michael Foot. I noted that his biography of Byron, The Politics of Paradise, is one of my favourite books. He sat in a Parliament which contained scholars of the highest order. Enoch Powell, Robert Rhodes James, Roy Jenkins, Tony Crosland and Michael Foot are only some of the politicians of that generation who wrote books which retain academic authority. (Don’t choke. Powell was arguably the World’s leading authority on Herodotus).
In the current parliament I can only think of lowbrow effusions. Brown’s curious ghost-written monographs “On courage” are, I think, meant to point up his own courage in overcoming his (genuine) misfortunes. Michael Gove’s mad Melanie Phillips style anti-Islamic rants are astonishingly ill-researched and of no academic use except as a study in prejudice.
In fact for the vast majority of MP’s, it is hard to imagine them reading a book. let alone writing one.