Take the red pill

July 1, 2013

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.“―Morpheus to Neo, the Matrix

Dear MPs

Take the red pill.

No, you can’t have a pay rise.  You’re public servants.  Don’t you know that your own policy is to “ensur[e] that public sector workers do not receive pay increases purely as a result of time in post”?  That public sector pay doesn’t rise with inflation but is capped at no more than 1% of the TOTAL paybill? That no more than 25% of very senior staff may receive performance related pay?  So you could – maybe – give up to a quarter of MPs a performance-related pay rise that didn’t amount to more than 1% of the total MP pay bill.  There are 650 MPs and they get £66396.  So 650 x 66396 x 1% = 431574 divided by a quarter of 650… you can have – maybe – £2656.  Or at least 162 or 163 of you can.

Take the red pill.

You need to compete for your share of the prize – you don’t get two and a half grand for nothing, you know!  You don’t have a performance agreement?  Well you’d better get on and agree one.  Because if a quarter of you are going to get prizes, and 65% of you are going to be assessed as “achieving”, then ten per cent of you are going to be assessed as “low” achievers (see paragraph 6)  And, well, you know you were all about the recall of underperforming MPs?  I think it’s only fair that the low achieving 10% should be recalled, now don’t you?

Take the red pill.

So what would be in your performance agreement?  Well objectives need to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.   There’s no money, and the coalition comes to an end on 7 May 2015 .  So that reduces our options a bit, but have no fear – what gets measured gets done, so let’s make sure we’re measuring you on the right scale.  Let’s have between three and five objectives, the way individual civil servants do.  They’ll probably be quite generic: you’ll have to fight amongst yourselves for who gets the bonus pot relating to each one.

Take the red pill.

Let’s start with housing.  In the coalition’s Housing Strategy for England you pointed out that there were only 115,000 houses built in the year before you were elected, and that there were expected to be 232,000 new households a year.  So my first SMART objective for you would be to build 232,000 new houses (or flats, or “dwellings”) each year.  Stretching but achievable, right?  I mean, you have a strategy already!  After all, you started “nearly” 50,000 in 2012… oh.

Take the red pill.

How about unemployment?  There isn’t really a simple metric for that, is there? I mean, there are people who are “economically inactive” but aren’t on jobseeker’s allowance… do we count that as a success or a failure?  So let’s get real: how many jobs are there?  Let’s see… 400,000 jobs and upwards of 2million people chasing them?  So how about we set a target of, say, a 25% increase in vacancies.  If you want to be eligible for a pay-rise, let’s see half a million vacancies, and let’s see the ratio of unemployed people to job vacancies fall substantially.  And, shhh, don’t tell anyone, but if you achieved the first target and built some houses, why, you could probably employ some people to do that!  Two objectives hit in one!

Take the red pill.

Where else do you need a reality check?  What about food?  The Trussell Trust has some 325 food banks and hopes to have one in every town.  They spent about three quarters of a million on their charitable activities in the latest year they have.  The House of Commons spent about £5.8 million providing food, apparently making a profit, but managing to be rather numb and vague about whether there was a subsidy in there somewhere.  But how about making a performance indicator out of equalising the amount spent on food for the Commons and food for the commons?

Take the red pill.  Get real.  You can’t have a pay rise till you up your game.


  1. […] Take the red pill […]

  2. […] in a drug-induced haze that I wanted it to be very clearly understood that I thought it was an obscenity for MPs to award themselves a ten per cent pay rise when nurses such as themselves had been on the […]

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