Labour MP Chuka Umunna announced on Monday 15 October he would be chairing a new centrist thinktank dubbed the Progressive Centre UK.
For the majority of people living in 21st-century Britain, Umunna’s claim that centrism is “back” is a bit of a joke.
But the salary the MP for Streatham will pocket for his new side job is no laughing matter.
On finalising plans for the UK’s latest ‘progressive’ thinktank, Umunna disclosed his new pay cheque in the register of members’ interests.
And the figure is stomach-churning:
Chuka Umunna will be paid £65,000 a year to chair a new centrist think tank https://t.co/bMXifKwTvL
— BuzzFeed UK (@BuzzFeedUK) October 18, 2018
According to the MP for Streatham, he is set to take home a massive £5,420 a month for his chair duties. That makes £65,000 a year. And that’s on top of his MP salary of £77,379.
As former spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn Matt Zarb-Cousin pointed out, it adds up to more than Theresa May’s base salary of £150,402:
Earning more than the prime minister https://t.co/zuHjixkjrZ
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) October 18, 2018
Flogging the dead horse of centrism with yet another Tory-lite thinktank (surely the Tony Blair Institute has it covered)? A bit of a joke.
Getting paid a whopping £65,000 a year for it? Priceless.
Working hard or hardly working
But for prominent figures on the left, the real joke wasn’t just the round figure of Umunna’s salary.
Apparently the MP will get double the average wage in the UK – for just 12 hours of work a month. That means Umunna will literally be making £451 an hour:
Incredible. Chuka Umunna to pocket £65,000 a year to chair this new "centrist" think tank, for doing 12 hours per month work. Time to ban our MPs – public servants who are there to serve their constituents – from doing lucrative second jobs. https://t.co/0cCt2Pkbyo
— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) October 18, 2018
this is beyond parody. Chuka is pocketing £65k a year for 12hrs/month (£450+ per hour) working for a ‘centrist’ think tank?! https://t.co/vs5NHwiZHS
— Michael Segalov (@MikeSegalov) October 18, 2018
As far as Tory-lite speaking fees go (at one point, Tony Blair was on £10,000 a minute), there’s room for improvement.
But still… props to Chuka!
And the Twitter reaction to Umunna’s showcase of peak centrism was predictably hilarious:
— anon ymous (@therapywimpy) October 18, 2018
Think of all the watches the size of a bin lid he can buy with that!
— Matthew Woods (@MatthewPWoods) October 18, 2018
Chuka Umunna getting thoroughly outsized recognition for very little work while being completely out of touch is *kisses fingers* so on-brand https://t.co/c5b7eGsjLE
— Danielle Blake (@abradacabla) October 18, 2018
Really proud of my MP for taking such an admirable, strenuous and challenging position. I’m sure the guy I see who sleeps outside Sainsbury’s every day will be chuffed with his new focus.
— Joe (@Jahill2018) October 18, 2018
maybe chuka will pay his interns a living wage now https://t.co/5ZZEETyhgY
— felix (@BelvinLaray) October 18, 2018
and here's me thinking he was working flat out to scupper Brexit………..how can a Labour MP pocket 65,000 for 12 hours a month and look his constituents in the eye when talking about the division between the haves and the have nots
— Barrie Waller (@barrie_waller) October 18, 2018
For many on the left, the MP for Streatham represents the worst side of the Labour Party.
It’s not just that he constantly criticises socialism and in turn, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Or the fact that he calls his own party “institutionally racist” while pandering to nationalist sentiments at the same time. Or even that he (allegedly) didn’t pay his interns.
Umunna provokes so much outrage because he shamelessly promotes an economic system that ruins people’s lives. Whether he does this because he’s a genuine believer in neoliberal centrism, or because he’s just protecting his own interests, is anyone’s guess.
But the fact that he’s getting over £65,000 a year for just 12 hours work a month tells you a lot.
And its no laughing matter.
– Join Momentum, for an antidote to centrist politics.
– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
– Read more of our coverage of centrism in British politics.
Featured image via BBC Newsnight
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?