It wasn’t so long ago that George Foulkes was arguing vociferously for politicians to receive significant increases in pay. We were in the eye of the expenses storm and the suggestion, as I understood it, was that an MP’s base salary was so low in relation to their heavy workload that it was understandable, if not necessarily excusable, for politicians to seek extra remuneration elsewhere.

At the time I found it to be a convincing argument; if we do expect the life of an MP to be a frenetic, round-the-clock, 24/7 affair, then that should be reflected in some way, reflected perhaps even through increasing the £60k or so salary that the current crop of MPs currently enjoy.

Given this pleading to give overworked politicians a break, I must admit that I was struck with surprise when I learned that David Miliband was looking to carve out a career for himself on TV, over and above his commitments as a constituency MP.
That ambition from the former Foreign Secretary has now swerved towards (and seemingly settled upon) volunteering as a teacher for 12 hours/week in a Chalk Farm school, a school some 300 miles away from his constituency.

Now, putting aside the selflessness of this decision (not to mention the flightiness of it that is more becoming of a student picking an outside college course) how can an MP for the far flung constituency of South Shields take almost two working days off in the week from his main job?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s for those South Shielders to decide how acceptable this is and I have little doubt that they’d return David Miliband with a stonking majority at any opportunity they had between now and the next election, and no doubt beyond.

It does beg the question though of just how busy our MPs actually are. And, specifically, how busy are our Scottish MPs who do not have to overly concern themselves with education, health and crime issues that their English and, to a lesser extent, Welsh counterparts do, including David Miliband of course.

I have no problem with MP salaries rising in order to attract and attain the brightest and the best and I have no problem with politicians being cut some slack if they have to work morning, day and night to fulfil modern expectations of what an MP should do and be.

However, I do have a problem with MPs acting outside the job description and taking up part-time roles outside their democratic remit. If you want to be a tv star or a teacher then step aside and let someone else in to do the job that you were elected to do less than a year ago.

Perhaps David Miliband can be something of a guinea pig to these ends with his looming circuitous career that will keep him off the backbenches for the next four years. Who knows, it may prove to be a rip-roaring success for reasons that I cannot currently see. However, I can’t help but be a little less in favour of those politician pay rises that Lord Foulkes was advocating recently…

UPDATE – David’s latest career plan is to join the board of Sunderland