Belfast Telegraph

Fair play to Alasdair for straight talking

By Lindy McDowell

Words you never imagine you would say ...

I feel sorry for Alasdair McDonnell. The newish leader of the SDLP has been comprehensively monstered by all and sundry in political circles after his appeal for better pay for MLAs.

It would be fair to say that Alasdair's L'Oreal-ing on behalf of elected representatives hasn't struck a chord with the masses.

There's a recession on. Most people would feel very lucky to be paid almost 50 grand for a seat in the house on the hill where food is subsidised, work is hardly onerous and perks as numerous as Assembly breaks.

Hence the public backlash.

Also, as in comedy, timing is important in politics.

His remarks were published around the Christmas/New Year period, a time when the punters' thoughts normally turn to those less well-off. Not to the cosseted members of our bloated Assembly.

And yet ...

I feel some sympathy for the man because he was not actually saying something that hasn't been argued before.

And at least he was being honest and upfront about his views on the subject - unlike some of his fellow politicos in all parties. Of course, I don't agree with his argument. But I can't remember any great clamour of dismay from MLAs any time in the past that a pay rise (or a hike in expenses) was mooted.

We're encouraged to believe they're all conviction politicians ... none of them is in it for the money.

Now that's truly taking a rise.

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