If you thought Chuka Umunna’s new centrist thinktank was a joke, you should see his pay cheque

Chuka Umunna

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.

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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:

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:

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:

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!

Twitter outbreak

And the Twitter reaction to Umunna’s showcase of peak centrism was predictably hilarious:

But amidst the current climate of crippling austerity, child poverty and mass inequality, the news also provoked genuine anger:

Chuka divides

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.

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Featured image via BBC Newsnight 

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