Self-employment presents an opportunity to showcase a skill or actively raise awareness of a personal passionate subject. It is a chance to try and make a difference for yourself and others on your own terms.
Self-employment is also a way to earn a living. For those who haven’t been given a chance by an employer to build a career or find steady work, it is an opportunity to do something that brings joy. It is a way to escape the dole queue. It is an alternative to zero-hour contracts. It may be a reason unemployment figures in Great Britain have dropped from 2.68 million in October 2011 to 1.86 million in December 2014.
As Channel 4’s Dispatches revealed on Monday 23rd February 2015, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP and Jack Straw MP are making a financial gain by being self-employed as public speakers. Using secret cameras to capture conversations, investigative journalists posed as representatives of a PMR, a fake Hong Kong-based business, in seeking to find out if Sir Malcolm and Jack would work for them on a consultancy basis. If this opportunity had been genuine, they may have both made a profit but they would have benefited PMR in sharing experiences and contacts.
Sir Malcolm and Jack could have helped out. They have, however, been lauded for their actions. Sir Malcolm has announced he will resign as a Member of Parliament (MP) at the British general election in May 2015. I feel for them both and want to find the reason for negativity. Should an MP only work for their constituents? Is it greed?
A P for the people
An MP is the strongest sounding board for members of the British general public who want to change the way Britain is governed. Locally and nationally. An MP is a voice for the people, selected by the people, who is respected enough to govern a part of the country that may be important to them.
Over a combined period of 68 years, Sir Malcolm and Jack have served as MPs in three constituencies. Edinburgh Pentlands from February 1974 until May 1997 and Kensington from May 2005 until the present day for Sir Malcolm and for Jack, Blackburn from May 1979 until the present day. By serving for prolonged periods, they have either built a strong rapport with the local community or have enjoyed strong support for the Conservative and Labour parties they respectively represent.
From Monday to Thursday, they repay the people who live in Kensington and Blackburn by working with the Government to resolve local issues. On returning to their constituencies at the weekend, they can meet their constituents face-to-face or enjoy free time if they have it.
Doing something you enjoy, I feel, is an entitlement. Regardless of any job a person has. Shouldn’t an MP be able to break away from politics for a few days or should they always find a way of supporting those who have put trust in them?
Through using contacts gained as an MP, making money could be an abuse of power. Making the most of what you have to make a passion successful is something I think is the sign of a clever businessman.
They are the money men
(They are the money men). They represent your ends. (They represent your ends). What have they bought? (What have they bought?) A ten tonne diamond!
Set to I am the Music Man, feel free to sing along. Enjoy my use of “ends” as my way of getting down with the kids too if you like. Ignore the ten tonne diamond bit though. Earning £67,060 a year as an MP may seem a lot but it may not buy anything that posh.
Add in the consideration that an MP may have to put £45,000 of his own money into an election campaign and earnings may become parallel with that of a lot of people in employment. People who, depending on the nature of their job, may face considerably less pressure.
Sir Malcolm may charge £5,000 to offer his services and expertise but he is not alone. From working with a British autism charity where I earned only £45 an hour through relative inexperience, I understand academics in the field of autism earn a similar fee. If a speaker is worth the money charged for invaluable experience, it seems organisers are willing to offer it.
Sir Malcolm and Jack may not be as rich as you think. If they pay tax on self-employed work, they’re doing nothing wrong. They may have read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and realised they can go on a journey to success. They’ve just found it in a few ways instead of one.