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Meet the donkeys

“I would say as an MP, obviously I don’t need to… you know… earn a king’s ransom”

Just the £84,000 a year eh. Imagine being able to snarl and shrug off the thought of that salary.

Say to yersel ach is what it is. Does a job. Just trying to keep the funds ticking over til my actual career starts.

Christ, I’m still throwing minor tantrums to mysel faced wae that 30p bag charge knowing there’s 10 of them up the stair.

I couldn’t help but think back to all these daft conversations you have wae your pals about what you’d do for that kind of money.

Would you call yer new-born ‘Marmite’ for 80 grand? Would you give up chippy sauce? Would you let the World’s No1 in kickboxing boot you in the baws every morning for a month?

Patter aside, £84,000 every year really would feel like a King’s ransom to families across the UK in this climate. Nurses are fighting tooth and nail for an extra grand or two… imagine we could chuck them another 50?

I’m, of course, talking here about the ‘Led By Donkeys’ experiment in which a fake consultancy firm, fictionally based in South Korea, contacted 20 MPs to see if they’d be enticed by some extra work & what sort of dosh they’d be looking for in return.

Never thought I’d have to engage in this kind of reasoning but this is the world we live in now - Kwasi Kwarteng, briefly in charge of our economy last year, who I’d imagine can do some maths… kicked off proceedings by declaring he wouldn’t work for anything less than 10 grand a month. Currently, over and above what he earns as an MP, I might add.

This was his retort to being asked his daily rate, to which he initially questioned whether providing his yearly rate would be suitable. Only to then, of course, provide a monthly rate.

His first answer was in dollars… what kind of dollars he meant was unclear. The South Korean ‘won’ notes aren’t often nicknamed ‘dollars’ and it doesn’t translate accordingly. This came as a surprise to the interviewer, forcing a probe into whether the figure of 10 thousand was at the value of Pounds Sterling. The ex-Chancellor changed his answer accordingly.

Among the wealth of experience and self-proclaimed attributes… accuracy and attention to detail weren’t something he mentioned to be fair.

The actual figure was of reasonable interest here as well. It changed dramatically in the space of seconds.

Once the minimum salary of £10k per month was declared, the interviewer said they were more looking in the region of £8-12k as a daily rate. They wanted to ensure they were getting the right person for the right kind of money.

This doesn’t phase Kwarteng. He takes a brief pause to look towards the ceiling and digs out his old Chancellor’s thinking cap.

At least, that’s what he wants the interviewer to think he’s doing. He’s actually looking up to the heavens to thank God for handing him the lottery.

Once the manufactured calculation draws to a close, he’s assured himself that he should be able to make this work. It might be a bit of a stretch given he was looking for that kind of money at the end of the month as opposed to the end of a single meeting, but he’s done the maths and it’s looking like he’ll give the go-ahead. They’re ‘not a million miles off,’ as he put it.

He then proceeds with the second fake calculation. This is the affirmation one. He’s already uncontainable getting ‘8 to 10 thousand should be okay’ on record, but this is the homer.

This calculation is out loud this time. He says, ‘I’m just trying to work out the days, how many days in a month was that?’

He’s reminded of the 6 meetings a year, to which he thinks, after some careful consideration, he’ll probably be able to make do with the salary. The same one way over and above the initial offer. ‘The numbers we can work,’ he says.

Just to ensure he was being totally transparent with his internal calculations, he solidifies the negotiation by reminding the interviewer of that annual trip to Korea.

If that all-expenses-paid-for trip were to be factored in, you could see why the extra tens of thousands would be a reasonable thing to weigh up. He then repeats the £10k per day figure just so it’s abundantly clear that he no longer requires the previously-proposed monthly rate.

Note that the deviation between £8-10k is now no longer necessary. The internal calculations have conjured up a definitive sum of the £10k.

There was a real sense of performance in Kwarteng. He looked like he was really coming into his own.

He’s seen films about politics and this felt exactly like the kind of thing that would be filmed for entertainment… uncannily, in fact. Why wouldn’t this assure him? He’s made it. Kwasi KwaVito. Samuel L Kwarteng.

Similar attributes were shared by his colleague, Matt Hancock.

He’s come a long way since his performance on Good Morning Britain during Covid. The crying was something out of an A-lister… if only the director had remembered to give him the prop to actually produce tears I genuinely would’ve been convinced.

He played the role really well; a man that wanted to appear extremely interested whilst also being composed and serious about the kind of money he was asking for. He had to combat a smile after the interviewer was recording his proposed hourly rate of £1500 without a flinch, but he manoeuvred the situation in an astute fashion. He played the old ‘cover face with hand’ trick. A classic.

And just as his compatriots were willing to do, Sir Graham Brady handed over all his personal contact details to this fictional foreign company without hesitation. They were more than happy to share the inside scoop, all the goss, the way we operate… all without any kind of vetting process or any kind of ability to spot a fake website that would rid the need for a vetting process.

I’m unaware of any recordings to date… but, in the footage we’ve seen, not a single politician has mentioned duties to their constituents that may interfere with their availability. I’m sure duty to the public wasn’t mentioned at all let alone in that context. That must be some kind of record.

A family struggling to feed themselves and/or counting the minutes to summer after a long, cold, radiator-absent winter may find this pill getting lodged in the back of their throat.

Folk will rightly point out that the way the experiment was conducted suits a narrative of criticising the Conservative Government specifically… out of the 19 party-affiliated candidates, 16 of the targeted were Tories. Based on the fact that the overwhelming majority of MPs with second jobs are.

Why this couldn’t be tailored to the specific percentage, which would make 13 or 14 of the targeted candidates Conservative, leaving scope to lure in a few more Labour MPs, isn’t stated in the video.

This doesn’t throw away every ounce of credibility though… it’ll be those with a vested interest, like supporters of the Conservative party, that’ll tell you otherwise. It would, at best, suggest it could be possible for a Labour MP to have also been enticed.

What it doesn’t do is wipe from the record that 3 senior Conservative MPs were acting in complete disregard for their duties to the public, valuing themselves at a ridiculous rate of pay and letting the arrogance of believing this worth get in the way of any security measures. It’s a wild exposure of our country’s defence measures, or indeed lack of defence measures.

Cybersecurity and information warfare are paramount in modern society. There’s a genuine worry of threat and toxic influence by Eastern states like Russia and China. If this isn’t alarming to someone that Parliamentary regulations leave us this liable to foreign surveillance then I don’t know what would do it.

I’m no guru in the field of scoping out fake news… incidentally my mates slag my lacking ability to do so. I came off personal socials for a lot of the key development years in social media… this is the line I take in defence.

But moan. These guys are in the mixer for top Government jobs. The ease with which this was done is mental.

Leaving folk wondering, and rightly so, whether MPs should be allowed to have second jobs. At least in the private sphere… don’t think anyone would begrudge a Doctor working Mondays in their local practice, for example.

Wonder whether the ‘experience’ of outside work being of value in the Parliament stacks against the assured absence of corruption, a trusting relationship with the public and a bitta accountability to what they’re doing all day.

This isn’t to dumb down the work that MPs do… there’s a massive weight of expectation that people take for granted when considering this.

Nor is it to generalise all politicians in this way… I’ve got every faith there’s a lot of good people in there doing valuable, hard-earned work.

But in the interest of national security, of the general population needing genuine help and of keeping the streets from rioting protest… you do wonder if it’s worth putting an end to that carry-on.

I won’t go on and generalise here. I won’t go onto a shameless slaggin of the Conservative party. The reality is this is a particular bunch that is just really bad. Probably worse than anyone’s ever seen.

In fact, I’m gonna end this by throwing one back to the Labour Party.

If they feast on this content, win the public over in the next election and then fail to completely gut out Westminster and the system with which it operates… I’d go as far as saying they're culpable. They will have proved right the sceptics that questioned the legitimacy of the experiment knowing (although not at the time) fine well the red mob are just as bad. It would be genuine scandal masked by more deception.

Over to you, Keir.

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