The collective orgasm from the right-wing blogosphere that has greeted David Cameron's announcments today to reduce the cost of politics has been a sight to behold. There seems to be much glee regarding the proposals, especially those regarding reducing the number of MPs from the soon to be total of 650 to around 585.
Now I have a problem with this anyway because it is part of Cameron's attempt he has discussed previously to "rebalance" the bias of the system back towards the Tories and away from Labour. They portray this as fair, completely ignoring the fact that the First Past the Post electoral system is inherently massively biased towards the top two parties in the first place. It is that that needs urgent reform but no such proposals were forthcoming on that of course.
Anyway, that isn't what I wanted to post about today. Cameron wants to remove 65 MPs or 10% of the total. However I have not seen any reference to reducing the size of government. Therefore he will still need the same number of cabinet and junior ministers as well as whips, bag-carriers etc., all of which make up the "payroll" vote, i.e. those that have to vote with the government. If I have understood his proposals correctly then the effect will be to reduce the number of backbenchers he has to put up with by about 35 and yet still be able to have the same majority.
That could make a big difference to how easy his life is made if he becomes Prime Minister. The fewer non-payroll MPs he has to worry about, the easier it will be to get his legislation through.
Viewed in this way, his announcements today look a bit less altruistic and a lot more self-serving.