Given the unpopularity of politicians in general, proposing a large pay rise for any of them is never going to be a vote winner. And in proposing to stop the planned pay rise for AMs, the Lib Dems are obviously trying to adopt a populist approach. Whether it will make any difference to their vote remains to be seen.
It doesn’t look like a terribly honest or thought-through policy though. In the first place, they signed up, along with the other parties, to the idea of taking AMs’ pay out of the hands of the AMs themselves, and giving the job to an independent panel. Worse, as I understand it, they also signed up to the guidance and direction given to the panel about the approach that should be adopted. Complaining about the outcome looks like trying to bolt the stable door.Having said that, there is something in the basic point that they are making, which is that rises in AMs’ pay should be linked to public sector pay by some formula; but it doesn’t go far enough. They’re only talking about a formula to determine the size of any pay rise – I’d prefer to see a direct linkage between the salary paid to AMs and the average salary in Wales. But what I really don’t understand about their proposal is that they seem to want to both have a clear formula linking pay rises to those in the public sector, and to retain the independent panel to determine the level of pay. What’s the point of retaining a panel of independent members simply to apply an agreed formula? It makes it sound as though they want to keep the door open for higher pay rises at some future point. Or is that overly cynical?