Public servants deserve better pay. We just need to extend pay rises beyond MPs' own ranks
We're delighted to see Parliament agree with us that hard-working public servants deserve decent pay. Now we just want the idea extended beyond MPs' own ranks.
Never mind the manufactured row over MPs' 11 per cent pay rise. It seems likely the "independent" pay body Ipsa has been leaned on to propose the outrageous figure so that frontbenchers on both sides can make a great show of rejecting it.
The real pay scandal is the million public-sector workers whose shamefully low wages have been hacked back even further during three-and-a-half years of Con-Dem cuts.
It's these workers who should be the focus of our fury at politicians over pay. They are the ones - disproportionately women - who toil day in, day out to feed our schoolchildren, care for our elderly and vulnerable and perform a hundred other vital jobs.
They have suffered terribly as the result of a deliberate campaign against the public sector aimed at dragging down pay and conditions to match the very worst that can be found in the private sector.
Combined with the cost-of-living crisis - caused largely by profiteering energy companies and money-grubbing private landlords - it means that some of our most valuable workers are being rewarded with grinding poverty that suggests we value them at almost nothing.
This is an entirely deliberate move by the Tories. They want to devalue public service, to punish those who perform it, to drive away competent and committed workers.
They say public services can't work - so they have to destroy public services which do work so that the facts don't contradict their dogma.
It's also vital for the Tories to wreck the public sector so that it can't put the private sector to shame.
Bosses have long been forced to up their game or risk losing their workers to a public sector where workers enjoy gender equality, strong trade union protections and collective pay bargaining.
The more the Tories hack back public services, the more the way is clear for bosses to join the race to the bottom on pay and conditions, to go back to Victorian-style exploitation, to play divide-and-rule with their workers and to widen the already huge gender pay gap.
The Tories and their media friends love to bleat on about public-sector pay as if these vital workers really were all taking home MP-sized salaries - and as if they didn't deserve it.
If anyone is worthy of an 11 per cent pay rise it's the public servants who do so much irreplaceable work to keep this country running and are rewarded with so little except falling pay, rising workloads and a constant barrage of lies from the Tory press.
It's great to see Jack Straw admit that decent pay is vital to attract talented workers. Now let's see Labour apply that principle not to MPs but to our much-slandered public servants.
Ed Balls needs to admit he was wrong to back a Tory pay freeze which had nothing to do with financial prudence and everything to do with sabotaging the public sector.
And Labour needs to pledge to reverse council budget cuts, end outsourcing and ensure that every one of our public servants earns the decent wage they can expect from one of the world's wealthiest countries.