The “job” of an MP

With the arrival of many new MPs at Westminster this week for their first year in office I will write a few pieces about the role of an MP, inviting your comments on what you want us to do.

Being an MP is not just a “job”. It is a way of life. My first advice to new colleagues is you are an MP 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Your time “working” may be closer to the standard 40 hour week of a “full time” employee, but for all 168 hours of the week you are an MP.

You are on call all the time in case some disaster strikes your constituency or our country. The constituency cases and emails come in at week-ends as well as during the week and sometimes need urgent replies.

You may be sitting at home listening to the news, but that may trigger some need to intervene following a news item. You may be in the local shops, but may then see something which needs following up for the sake of constituents.

I have included the 56 hours you are asleep or relaxing in bed though you would be wise not to take your MP work to bed with you.  I do so because if you spend time in the wrong bed or share a bed  with an inappropriate person you would soon find out that the media and public thought your bedtime a matter of public concern and debate.

Let us suppose you manage to carry out your duties in Parliament and answering emails, and dealing with constituency queries and cases  in say 40-50 hours a week on average, you will have to accept that some weeks your working hours will be much longer. My second piece of advice is do not fight the need to be in Parliament when it is sitting and debating and voting on important matters. Surely that is what you have struggled  to be able to do. Some MPs no sooner get elected than they are nagging the whips to allow them free time when Parliament is  debating and deciding important issues. This leaves them tense and the party feeling a bit let down by them as the whips agonise over which request they can allow. There are days when we sit beyond 10pm and need to be there for a variety of good reasons. You also cannot do constituency correspondence on an ipad whilst taking a serious interest in a debate or Question time. If you are in the chamber it needs your attention.

Parliament meets to hold votes and make decisions about  matters of interest to most people around 100 days a year. I those days coincide with a wedding anniversary, an important family birthday or a social event you just want to do you are likely to be disappointed. Explain in advance to friends and family that there are times when Parliament must come first. It is always possible to make up for that unfortunate truth by having a  bigger and better celebration at the next available Friday or  week-end when Parliament will not  be wanting you in  the evening or at all. Other Parliamentary days totalling around 70 offer debates which you may or may not wish to join, without votes you have to attend, so they offer more flexibility. For around 17 weeks a year  or 85 week days Parliament is in recess, and there are 104 weekend days off. This allows considerable flexibility on how to organise events outside Westminster, meet the need to do things in  the constituency and have time for yourself and your family. It is always a   good idea to book out family time for non Parliamentary days well in advance and  to stick to it in most cases.

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150 Comments

  1. Peter Wood
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    Sir John, you do not address the issue of ‘representative vs delegate’. In recent times this has become a vexatious issue; are you a follower of Edmund Burke, or do you think an MP should represent his constituency view rather than his own when they disagree?

    • SM
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Representative vs delegate? Surely, like most things in life, it’s a balance of applied common sense and personal conviction.

      A good MP works for every member of his constituency regardless of his or their political views; the electorate must accept that their MP has been honestly elected by a majority after a fair contest, and is therefore entitled to stick (one hopes) to his political views. I am coming round more to the opinion that a sitting MP who changes Party must be legally required to stand down and force a by-election.

    • NickC
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Peter W, A good constituency MP should do both parts of the job – a representative, and a delegate. Except in the case of a binary national referendum, voted for by MPs themselves, in which case MPs have deliberately chosen to be delegates for that one issue.

  2. Stephen O
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I would also hope MPs find time to build their understanding of the issues affecting the country. For example developments in science and technology and how they may impact the delivery of government services, UK businesses and peoples everyday lives.
    Few MPs come from a STEM background so extra effort is needed to make up for this. The use of AI, Machine Learning and genetics could have a very positive impact on British society.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Indeed and progress will accelerate exponentially, as the new better tools (such as faster and cheaper computers, AI software, new materials, manufacturing techniques etc.) mean the next generation of tools and techniques are then developed far more quickly and cheaply using these far better tools.

      Non volatile memory for example is now about 1/100,000,000,000 of the cost it was just 40 years ago and about 1/1,000,000 of the size too and far more energy efficient to.

      The first whole human genome sequencing cost roughly $2.7 billion in 2003. In 2006, the cost decreased to $300,000. In 2016, the cost decreased to $1,000.

      In 2025 perhaps just £5 or £1?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        More than 60 percent of info tech projects still fail, not much different to years ago, indeed often worse due to the lower quality staff often used, it’s even worse in the public sector, not made any better by the likes of the clueless clowns at the government digital service.

        The progress you discuss is not the bed of roses.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        I just replaced a large PC hard drive in a laptop with a much faster 256GB SSD (solid state drive – no spinning disk) for £28 (thank you eb**)! And saved quite a few bob into the bargain. Amazing technology jumps from time to time.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Sound like good advice. We are very lucky indeed given this to have at least a few excellent MPs like yourself.

    So many MPs in the last government unfortunately thought that their job was to stand for election on one basis but then do the compelte opposite once elected. Thus kicking their voters in the teeth and trying to prevent any real democracy. Thanks goodness some of these traitors (though far from all of them) were evicted at the last election.

    • jerry
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      @LL; There are many excellent MPs, and always has been, they work hard, attend votes in parliament and events in their constituency etc but do not (always) vote how you or I night wish – stop being so damned critical, at times you are a most illogical person!

      Many of the MPs you criticise were either in Remain areas and were representing the majority will of their constituents, or they stood on a Remain personal message along side their party manifesto. Our host has done this in the past when he disagreed with how his party and govt were being run, even resigning from the Govt and standing against the then leader. We need MPs, not lemmings, thankfully most of the time we get the former…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        To be good or excellent MPs they have to have a working compass, be intelligent, honest and be diligent. Good too if they have some understanding of maths and science.

        The first requirement rules out nearly everyone who is not a Conservative and more than half of the Conservatives (many of who are clearly LibDems at best). The other requirement rule out most of the rest. The last one almost all of them.

        Even being optimistic there are fewer than 70 sound ones by my standards. Perhaps the worse of all is a diligent hard working person with a broken compass like Major, May, Cameron, Hammond, Osborne, Brown, Miliband X 2, Blair …. if they are wrong headed better to be lazy and do nothing than do positive harm!

        All but a handful voted for Miliband totally idiotic and hugely damaging Climate Change Act. Most are in favour of HS2 it seem too. I rest my case.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Anyone who voted for the Benn Act is, in my opinion, guilty of treachery and was being a blatant traitor to the UK’s interest (and always will be in my view).

        They helped to ensure the Boris deal is as bad a deal as it clearly is. This act has cost the country (and almost everyone) a fortune totally pointlessly. Though it is a rather better deal than May’s appalling effort.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          They did not break any law, and it is quite right that such laws, which would prevent MPs from doing their jobs, do not exist.

          Incidentally, retrospective criminal law has always been a favourite of murdering tyrants, notably in central Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

            If(?) they did not break any laws then the laws surely need to be revised. Passing a bill that ties the hands of the government in a negotiation (that was vital for the country) was an outrage. We will pay a large price for the outrage of the Benn Act.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

            With a majority of eighty there is nothing whatsoever preventing the Government from repealing the Benn Act.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Well fine to stand against the party position if the party position is clearly wrong/mad/daft as on the ERM, the EURO, the Climate Change Act, HS2, staying in the EU, Maastrict, Lisbon, gender pay reporting, building on EU workers rights, monetary policy…….

        Not so good where the government are right and the MP concerned is totally wrong!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          I’ve lost count as to how many sets of standards you switch between there.

          Not that you have any problem with that, naturally.

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        @Jerry
        While you are seemingly correct, the one bit you missed these MP’s first and foremost submitted an agenda to the electorate ‘vote for me and I promise’. Then went on in Parliament to pass a Law to carryout those promises. Then the following day broke their election promise and fought against it everyday after.

        Their constituents voted for them on the basis of their promise and that to most is the problem. If MP’s lie to get us to pay them money what does that say about the integrity and meaning of Parliament. There is no soft and cuddly way to remind them as it is with the rest of us in our daily life, lying shouldn’t be rewarded.

        • jerry
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          Ian, please read my reply (once/if published) to @NickC below.

      • NickC
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, When MPs gave us, the electorate, the right to decide between Remain and Leave, they chose to forfeit the right to oppose our decision. In short, MPs made themselves delegates for that one issue. Otherwise there is no point in having any binary national referendum.

        • jerry
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; Any such referendum instruction ended with the calling of the 2017 GE, no future govt or MP shall be constrained by any previous govt, if that is not the case Mrs T should not have sold off council houses nor carried out any privatisations for example!

          It was very unwise for Mrs May to call the 2017 GE for that reason alone, never mind all the other dangers, and I seem to recall even saying as much on this site at the time.

          The referendum instructed the 2015-17 parliament, the 2017 (and 2019) parliament instructions came by way of the usual party manifestos, to the extent that had the LibDems some how managed to win the GE they would have had a manifesto mandate to Revoke A50.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, It was not a previous government’s decision, it was the people’s decision. By definition our decision could not have ended when the government changed.

            If you want to campaign to re-join the EU after we have left that is up to you. perhaps you could start a party – the UK Subservience party?

          • jerry
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            @NickC; Nonsense. Do you have a first clue as to how a parliamentary democracy works.

            “It was not a previous government’s decision, it was the people’s decision.”

            Wrong, the 2016 referendum happened because of an Act of Parliament, there is no bottom-up “peoples govt” in the UK like there was (supposedly) in the GDR.

            “By definition our decision could not have ended when the government changed.”

            Fine, best the govt returns all those council houses sold off since 1980 back to the public sector, best BT is taken back into the public sector, after all no future govt should be allowed to over turn any decisions made by a previous govt and both council houses and the GPO were set up via Acts of parliament. Oh and were does your logic leave the 2016 referendum, considering that a referendum had already been held in 1975, null and void that’s were – the people had already decided on our membership of the EU (or EEC as it was called then), the aims of the then TEEC were the same then as it is now, these days embedded within the Lisbon treaty. Ignorance is and has never been a defence in a court of law.

            “If you want to campaign to re-join the EU after we have left that is up to you.

            I do not want to rejoin, but should a majority of the electorate at some future GE (under what ever sort of voting system) or referendum decide that they do, as a democrat I will accept such a decision – will you?

            The only person demanding “Subservience” from others, in true GDR fashon, is you Nick, subservience to what you want…

        • bill brown
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          NickC

          That assumption does not necessarily always apply, if the decision is fundamentally against the convictions of the MP, on certain issues. But once it is support also by a majority in Parliament it should be supported

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

            Bill B, No, MPs handed over the responsibility to us by passing the 2015 Referendum Act. Attempting to wrest the outcome from us, simply because they didn’t expect us to vote Leave is fraudulent.

          • jerry
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

            @NickC; Nonsense, otherwise were does your ‘logic’ leave the result of the 1975 Referendum, if no future govt, MP or electorate can overturn any previous decision.

            Try testing your arguments by assuming Remain had won the 2016 referendum, and that between June 2016 and Nov 2019 the Govts wish for further integration with the EU (wanting to hand back our opt-outs for, join the Euro etc.) had been frustrated by a -so called- “Leave Parliament”, does the logic of your argument still stack up…

    • agricola
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      My own MP was in the far from all category. He was absolutely honest before the referendum in outlining his remain position so was respected for that. He was returned at the last election possibly because he accepted the verdict of the referendum , but mostly because he has been a very good constituency MP. He is back with an increased majority and long may he remain..

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Well at least he was honest before the referendum and if he respects the result that is fine. Though his judgement before the referendum was rather questionable.

  4. Mark B
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    When I have had a need to contact my MP they were always ready to reply. I always made the point of thanking them afterwards, something that was appreciated.

    I look forward to many articles on this in the future.

  5. James Strong
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    MPs rarely need to be in the chamber. The effective debates, policy discussions and decisions mostly take place outside the chamber. There are times, such as the Saturday session after Argentina invaded the Falklands, when they absolutely must be in attendance. However, most of the time, for most MPs, sitting in the chamber is not an effective use of time.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      When I listen to debates on any subject that I know something about – such are business, engineering, energy, renewables, taxation, transport systems, aircraft, physics, statistics, the NHS and the likes I am astonished at just how many MPs and Lords are very happy to speak on subjects when they clearly have not got a clue about. They have usually not even bothered to do even the most elementary research. For example confusing units for energy and power and positive and negative feedbacks thinking electric cars are “zero emission” and many other very basic total misunderstandings .

      Many just seem to be professional advocates (or so called “consultants” often pushing blatant untruths). Actors just repeating the drivel from the pressure groups that fed it to them.

  6. James Strong
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    It would be desirable if MPs re-balanced their relationships with the whips.
    MPs should discuss planned absences with the whips, of course. But if there is a dispute, if the MP says ‘I need to work somewhere else’ and the whips say ‘No, you must stay here’ then the MP’s decision should prevail.
    MPs do not work for the whips or for the government. Neither the Chief Whip nor the Prime Minister is my MP’s boss.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      No, the Speaker is.

      • formula57
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        “No, the Speaker is.” – that will come as news to Sir Lindsay and his predecessors and to whomsoever wrote https://www.parliament.uk/business/commons/the-speaker/the-role-of-the-speaker/role-of-the-speaker/

      • NickC
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        No, the Speaker isn’t. Not even the elastic Bercow was.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          OK, you bit.

          However, only the Speaker can order MPs from the House etc., not the PM nor any government office.

          Other than that MPs are, in principle, their own men and women.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

            So what you said originally was wrong.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

            No, I don’t think so.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

            So first you claim the Speaker is the authority over MPs.
            When challenged you then say they are their own boss.
            And fail to mention the power of their own party in terms of its leader and the power of the whips and the powers of the local constituency party.
            Other than that, you were of course, completely correct.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            Neither government nor party can cause a law-abiding sitting MP to lose their seat, nor compel any action by them in the House.

            Only the Speaker may do the latter.

            Depends what you mean by “boss”.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            So now you switch again to the subject of MPs being sacked instead of your original claim of MPs being forced to leave the House.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Martin, The real “boss” of an MP is his constituents – they hire him and can fire him. That’s what democracy is, after all.

  7. DOMINIC
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Being an MP has become a career choice not a principled vocation. I find that distasteful. This taints democracy and is an abuse of our most important public institution for mere personal advancement

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  8. Andy
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    The two most important jobs an MP has are this:

    1) Represent ALL of your constituents – not just the minority who voted leave
    2) Do what is right for your country, not what is right for your party

    If MPs were good at their jobs and did these two things Brexit would not happen.

    As it is most MPs – and pretty much every Tory – will put their party and the interests of the angry elderly minority ahead of the interests of everyone else.

    • Mark
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Governing involves making choices. As soon as there is more than one opinion on a topic, it is impossible to satisfy everybody. A bad compromise is often worse than clarity, but the essential of democracy is that alternative opinions are heard. That helps avoid groupthink disasters. Moreover, under FPTP, there is a good chance that most people will see a government they voted for from time.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      In many constituencies the majority voted to leave but the MP refused to listen.
      Many of those MPs were voted out at the election.

      • bill brown
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Edward 2

        It is the duty of the MP to operate according to his/her conscience, no matter what the constituency might have of opposed majority for one thing or another, including Brexit . (note Sir JR)

        • Edward2
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Yes bill they can carry on ignoring the views of the majority of their constituents.
          It is their right to do so.
          However come the next election they may find themselves voted out.

          • bill brown
            Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

            Edward 2

            We were talking about specific issues and subjects, we were not talking about ignoring votes in general, as this is usually not the case.

            thank you

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            I realise that bill
            andy was as usual talking about Brexit.
            This is s binary issue.
            An MP has to decide on an his or her position.
            So they will upset some voters whatever side they are on

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        No, just more of those who actually voted did. Which often isn’t even a majority of the electorate, let alone the population.

        So that is not quite the same, and the MP is generally expected to consider all his/her constituents, not just those who voted a given way.

        You don’t expect that, but then you are in that pandered-to minority.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Not that silly statistical ly ridiculous claim again Martin.

          We have some simple voting rules.
          First it is voluntary
          Second you have to be 18.
          Third you have to be a citizen.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            People who do not vote are still people with rights, and at least some MPs and the law are intelligent enough to recognise that even if you are not.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

            Rights…we all have rights.
            As soon as we are born or arrive in our country as a tourist.
            I impressed how you know what the views of these non voters are.
            Remarkably they all seem to have the same opinions as you.

          • a-tracy
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

            Martin, I believe the people that do not vote indicate by their lack of wishing to exercise their opinion and rights that they are happy to go with the majority that can be bothered to go and vote in person or secure a postal vote if they can’t guarantee they are in their local area on that day, neither tasks are hard to do.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            OK, cite the law, which says that only the people who voted for a given MP have a right to have their views or interests considered by that MP.

            Thanks.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

            Pedantic as ever martin.

            MPs try to represent all their constituents.
            You know that.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Martin, The 2015 Referendum Act. Thanks.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            OK, quote the section of that Act where it says that.

            It doesn’t.

    • agricola
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      You have often claimed that Brexit is down to the elderly and have pilloried them for the past months. Ask yourself, if this angry, elderly, minority are a minority how did they pull off a vote of 17.4 million in favour of Brexit and how did they absolutely trounce all before them in the recent general election. I admit that the elderly have much experience to fall back on, but if they are as capable and persuasive as you have long believed perhaps they really should be running the country. In realty I find your comments delusional.

    • NickC
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Andy, If all MPs were good at their jobs Brexit would have happened in 2017.

    • Longinus
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      3) Ignore lunatic constituents who cannot accept democratic decisions.

    • Lester Beedell
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Andy, the minority voted remain, I would have thought that the result of the GE proved that beyond doubt?

      • Fred H
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        why let facts get in the way of an endless whine?

  9. acorn
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a job for a younger person and then only for a maximum of eight years. All politicians run out of ideas after eight years and just become lobby fodder. The US sytem of never letting politicians be more than two years from an election, keeps them on their toes.

    Reply I have plenty of ideas and plenty of energy to advance them.

    • NickC
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, You need to do more research on the “US system” then. The PotUS is elected every four years, not every two.

      • acorn
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        Politicians that is Congress is elected every two years. All of the Representatives and a third of the Senate. Perhaps you should do some research before committing your ignorance of the subject to print?

        • NickC
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Acorn, The PotUS is elected every four years, not every two, however you choose to wriggle.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Age is not a proper measure acorn in some jobs, I have a colleague who at the age of 77 is fitter, more mentally agile and positive a person than lots of the other’s half his age.

  10. The PrangWizard
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    MPs have got something important to consider and decide upon this week. The PM’s WA2 is up for a vote I believe. One provision in it I understand is an undertaking that the UK government will not take any view or action which is contrary to the wishes and policy of the EU in foreign affairs. This probably accounts for Boris’ weasel words on the Iran issue.

    We should be supporting President Trump but Boris sits on the fence with Merkel and Macron clearly taking instructions from them to the detriment of our future relationship with the US. MPs must decide whether they think that is the right thing to do since we have heard so much on how we are meant to be taking back control and so on. To me it clearly is not true. Will they vote for WA2 or against it then?

    I would also suggest that Iran’s many death threats issued since have been encouraged by the sympathetic coverage they have received from our media, who along with our government will bear a good deal of responsibility for yet more appeasement of those who threaten us. And has anyone asked themselves why the US did not consult with us prior to the action – my answer is they have already decided we can no longer be relied upon nor trusted, and frankly I don’t blame them.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I would rather hope we had a foreign policy that is designed to address British interests especially when a US President pursues a foreign policy designed to appease his own domestic critics. What are our interests in the the ME? Not enough migrants and refugees poring into Europe, yet?

    • rose
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I understand the Americans couldn’t tell Nancy Pelosi and her friends because they couldn’t be trusted and therefore we couldn’t be told. But it may also be because no-one in their right mind would tell a Foreign Service stuffed full with Burts and Darrochs.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Don’t suppose you can talk about it until the PM has.

  12. agricola
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    On being elected you become the representative for everyone in your constituency irrespective of who they might have voted for in the past. For your electorate you are the ultimate social worker, the point where the buck starts on occasion but always stops. They cannot knock on ministers doors, you can.

    In Parliament you are duty bound to support what you believe in, which is mostly what your government are trying to do , but not always as we have seen over the past three years.

    For the first time in many a year , from now on you will have to consider the formulation or removal of legislation. The EU is no longer the fountain of all that good, you will need to think about that yourselves as MPs taking responsibility for everything. You will need to develop a clear vision of where the UK should be heading and how we achieve it.

    While on the subject, for all those who take the above responsibilities seriously, a sum of £80,000 per annum plus legitimate expenses is no big deal.

    My final point is that Parliament as a whole needs to think about how it operates. The visual impression is that it is in a time warp. It needs to start embracing the sort of technology that keeps pace with what successful business has to do. No doubt MPs do so in their day to day operation but it is not apparent in Parliament. The Queens Speech is the day for stockings and pageantry, the other days should not be Disney World.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I watched as parliament re-convened after the election and was put in mind of a Savoy opera without the music.

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    As a constituent of yours over the years I have only ever needed to contact you on two occasions, to inform you of problems our family was having with a government department, on both occasions you responded with a sensible reply and advice promptly, so thank you.

    Your description of duties sounds very much like that of the owner of a small business looking after their customers.
    Its a 24/7 calling if you want repeat business, only the owner of a small business does not get a guaranteed salary, expenses, an excellent pension, usually has their house on the line at the Bank, and spends a lot of time filling in Government department forms, like VAT etc.

    Not complaining, that’s how it is/was, but given your recent postings on the self employed, I wonder if you sought to make a sort of comparison.

  14. GilesB
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Being a Minister, let alone Prime Minister, is a full-time job. Yet their constituents seem to survive.

    MPs acting on behalf of individual constituents against Government Departments is an anachronism dating back before the days of the penny post, telephone or internet. Government Departments should have serve their customers appropriately and have proper escalation, compliant and appeal mechanisms.

    MPs should spend more time explaining Government policies to their constituents. And listening to their views. This website is very good indeed and I really appreciate the time and effort that you allocate to it. But how many readers/posters are from Wokingham?

    As well as an MP you are also a member of a party. I would like their to be more transparency into how Party policies are developed. I appreciate that some needs to be behind closed doors and is very conditioned by political circumstances, but it is absurd if a GE manifesto is written in two weeks by two people who are not MPs of whom nobody has ever heard.

    I’d also like MPs to identify laws and regulations that should be repealed. Obviously this is particularly necessary as we leave the EU.

    MPs should focus on roles that they alone can perform. Leave opening supermarkets to TV celebrities …

  15. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    John’s constituency voted Remain, and yet he fervently backs Leave.

    Whilst I strongly oppose his position in that case, I completely defend his right as an MP to use his own judgement as to what position to take on this or on any other matter.

    It is because we have a representative Parliament that this country has been able to move from the brutish, dark-hearted rule of the mob, to take its place amongst civilised nations.

    Were it not for that, then I suspect that we our standards of justice and much else would probably be stuck at the level of the Ducking Stool.

    I trust that John will do all that he can to ensure that the country’s standing is not threatened by the overt intentions of many like some correspondents here to destroy that standing.

    Reply My constituency did not fervently vote Remain. Nearly half voted Leave with me. More importantly in both the 2017 and 2019 elections I stood on a ticket of leaving, whilst the Lib Dems stood on a ticket of reversing the referendum. The Lib Dems came a poor third the first time and a not very close second the second time. I will keep my word from the election.

    • Irene
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      The people of Wokingham voted to remain by 55,272 votes to 42,229. A total of 97,551 votes were cast, with turnout being 80 per cent. Leave 44.3 %. Remain 56.7%

      Reply That was the result for Wokingham Borough. I represent Wokingham Parliamentary constituency which includes a substantial portion of West Berkshire and leaves out a lot of Wokingham Borough . Some of these voters are in Maidenhead, Reading East and Bracknell constituencies. If you want to quote figures please understand the figures you are using.

      • Irene
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        My apologies. I tried to add my apologies earlier, but my reply to reply didn’t get through, so I try again.

        The figures I quoted earlier appear to be the only figures I can find, so perhaps you would be able to point me in the direction of the figures for the Wokingham Parlimentary constituency that I failed to find earlier.

        The Analysis of the EU Referendum Results in 2016, in the House of Commons Library, gives only the same figures that I found earlier. But with the additional information that Wokingham was placed 8th in the South East ‘highest vote share for Remain’.

        Thanks in advance.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Yet a firm Leaver MP romped home in spite of your point! Perhaps thousands of our residents had an epiphany and changed minds?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Thank you John, but I did not claim that your constituents “fervently” voted Remain, just that they did.

      I don’t think that I traduce you by saying that you fervently back Leave, on the other hand?

      Whatever, you cannot simultaneously claim that MPs must be free to use their judgement where their constituents voted Remain, and yet be compelled to be their delegates where they voted Leave.

      I get a feeling that you and other commenters here are alluding to that being the position.

      There’s a name for that – double standards.

      Reply Do you always have to disagree and make up nonsense to do so. I have set out before how I do the job of MP, which is a blend of what my constituents want, what my party recommends and what my judgement says. I believe in keeping to the promises I make in elections, where I also set out any disagreement I have with a main Conservative Manifesto policy if I have one.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        John, it’s not my intention to be irritating, but I and other commenters have raised what is an ongoing discussion about the relationship between MPs and their constituents generally, and about that other, narrower one with their voters.

        I was trying to infer from your actions and words what your precise view on that might be.

        Taking your reply too, that helps to narrow down the possibilities, and since the mix of that blend to which you refer would also be a matter for your judgement, it seems to me that your ideas and mine as to an MPs responsibilities are very similar.

        I trust that you will support all other MPs, when they also exercise their discretion as you clearly do.

        Reply I would only support them if I agreed with them. We are all open to challenge about how we make our judgements.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          Yes, in the course of Parliamentary business I would only expect that.

          However, it would, I think, be helpful to public impressions of Parliament, if when asked as a matter of opinion outside of debate, you expressed your support for the principle of MPs acting as you yourself have explained that you do – that is, according to your information and judgement, and not as a mere messenger of a vociferous section of your voters.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

            What on earth does that post mean?
            Could be a potential excellent contribution to Pseuds Corner in Private Eye.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Martin
        Rest assured JR has always set out in his election literature exactly his position on many topics, including Brexit.

        Indeed at this election he actually did not headline the Conservative Party at all, he stood on the headline as John Redwood, and set out his thoughts and views very clearly, so the electorate knew exactly what he stood for and believed in before they voted him in.

        Those in his constancy who seem to moan on social media at election time about his views, do not ever seem to read or comment on this excellent web site, or to have made contact with him directly judging by their comments.

      • NickC
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Martin, You fail to address the point that Parliament itself voted to hand the decision about Leave or Remain to the national electorate, and specifically did not give it to MPs only.

        Therefore the Referendum was not merely an opinion poll for MPs’ amusement. MPs themselves wanted us to make the choice, and hence they have a duty to implement our decision, irrespective of their personal beliefs on that one issue. That is what binary national referendums are for.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Most MPs in the last Parliament voted for exit from the European Union.

          I don’t think that many who voted for the framework of the referendum then voted to cancel its result either.

          Whether they support your doctrinal puritanism as to the sort of post-exit relationship with the European Union that you want is a completely separate matter, and so does not engage the question about MPs scope for discretion re the referendum result anyway.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            Martin, What “doctrinal puritanism” is that then? I simply insist that we get what we were offered – separation from the EU. You know, honesty? If Remain had won 52:48 would you have settled for a partial Leave? That’s rhetorical – we both know you wouldn’t.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            So how come we haven’t already left the EU?

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Martin. Perhaps John’s constituents have changed opinion since the referendum or at least agree that the result should be upheld. Otherwise they would not have returned him to office – after an intensive LibDem campaign to challenge him.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          No, it just means that not everyone is an obsessed fanatic about the European Union, whether for or against – nay, only a minority are in my experience.

          So it’s quite easy to see how a moderate Remain voter but convinced Conservative would still vote for John.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

            I could just see you saying that if many more green or lib dems had been elected in the recent election or if many leave MPs had lost their seats.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            Martin, All we want is to get what we voted for – it’s called democracy. Whereas you want to block the Referendum result; that makes you the obsessed fanatic, not us.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

            No, I think that the UK should leave the European Union as soon as possible.

            It is a hindrance to the project, and its messy, allegedly corrupt referendum demonstrates that it does not meet the electoral standards to qualify for membership anyway now.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          Also with FPTP it’s perfectly possible to be elected with far less than half of the votes.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            That applies to all parties.
            Voters know the rules before they vote.

            There could have been a big swing to pro remain parties and to pro remain individual MPs if that was what voters wanted but there wasn’t.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            About fourteen and a half million voted either Tory or Brexit Party.

            That is three million fewer than voted Leave.

            Looks like there was, then?

          • Edward2
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            No that’s not correct.
            You are counting all Labour as a remain party.

          • NickC
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Only if you think all Labour voters were Remains. And if you think that I’ve got this bridge looking for a new home . . .

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            I was being kind to you and counting all Tory voters as Leave ones.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:01 am | Permalink

            I should hope so too.
            They did have a main election message of
            Get Brexit Done

    • IanT
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      We were simply amazed at the amount of effort and money that the Lib Dems threw at Sir John in this last election. We had at least 15 pieces of LD literature either pushed through the letterbox or posted to us – all making it very clear that they opposed JR with regards his EU views. The local paper had a full page letter (a paid advertisment) by an ‘individual’ that was a thinly veiled LD promotion – which was followed by a 4 page outer ‘wrapper’ (also a paid advert) that at first glance looked like the paper was supporting the LDs (which perhaps it was).

      So there is no doubt that Wokingham voters were very aware of the gulf between Sir Johns EU views and those of the ex-Tory MP from Bracknell that the LDs shipped in to oppose him. In fact I was waiting for the proverbial kitchen sink to get thrown in through my window as their next promotion…

      Fortunately, after 30 years of excellent service many local voters (both Leave & Remain) decided that Sir John had earned our support – and he got it I’m very pleased to say….

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        The surprising bit, is how many were still swayed by the un-democratic’s continually lying and there is no way of saying it the underhanded electioneering. Using 2 Candidates to storm the area and just ‘slag’ off JR – Mullin and Lee were the same Party in practice while playing the system of definition.

        Lee brought Broadband to Finchampsted and longer trains into Wokingham, among many, that was surely a joke!

      • Fred H
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        IanT – – and many of us were thrilled, yes thrilled, that all that expense, postal delivery, door-to-door delivery went unheeded.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      We had free choice, Sir John won by a country mile – – should be end of discussion.

  16. ChrisS
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Nobody should under-estimate the workload of diligent English MPs like our host who also spends a considerable amount of his personal time indulging those of us who regularly post here. For that we thank you, Sir John.

    The question I would like to ask is over the difference in workload for English MPs and those of NI, Wales and particularly Scotland. Citizens of every other part of the UK other than England are also served by members of their provincial assemblies such as the Scottish Parliament.

    Surely MSPs must be taking a considerable proportion of the constituency workload that would otherwise fall on Scottish MPs ?

    Is this a significant factor and if it is, does it make Scottish MPs effectively part time members, free to pursue their independence agenda ?

    Most of us have strongly supported the campaign for English MPs to sit as an English Parliament to decide on all measures currently delegated to Scotland ( plus all further powers that might be delegated in future ).

    Naturally the campaign for an English Parliament has had to take a back seat in the last four years but with a big majority and the need to be more responsive to issues important in the North of England, it is surely time to resurrect the idea ?

    As representatives of the English Parliament, MPs could also form select committees to represent the English Regions without damaging the integrity of England ?

    Reply Yes, I assume much of the casework about devolved domestic policy issues and problems in Scotland falls to MSPs that falls to MPs in England

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Do Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs get less money to run their local constituency offices as the workload is halved, being shared by the MSP, MWA, etc.? If not why not?

      • ChrisS
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        When an English Parliament was a hot topic, Scottish MPs were very quick to object to being second class MPs. The truth is, they already are – having half the workload of their English counterparts !

        We really must again push for the powers currently devolved to the Scottish parliament to be debated and voted on only by English MPs where they apply to England.

        This will fit in very well with Boris’ commitment to take more notice of the needs of the English Regions. Select committees made up of MPs from the Regions would be the ideal method of achieving this as they could sit in the heart of their area and make recommendations to the Government.

        This would be an effective way of devolving powers without endangering the integrity of England as one Country.

  17. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “Explain in advance to friends and family that there are times when Parliament must come first.”
    I have always been worried about MPs who insist on a creche and the right to breast feed in the House. Being a Mum is a full time job. Being an MP seems like a full time job. I should have thought that a baby is far more important than anything else to a Mum. I am sure the baby would agree with me too!
    Family life seems to be sacrificed as well. I should have thought this opened the door for all sorts of shenanigans as power and sex mix very well indeed.

    Could I dare ask MPs to examine themselves and ask, quite frankly, if they really need to work so hard? I think that actually living like ordinary people is more important than upbraiding us non MPs for drink, smoke and obesity problems! (For a start.)

    • Irene
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Speechless! I’m sure the year that has just begun is 2020. Correct me, please, if I’m wrong.

      • Irene
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Or did I miss the joke?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree!
      (As I often bang on) we once had a wonderful MP here who was truly “one of the people” and who concentrated massively on local issues and individual problems…no obesity scolding, no pc etc.
      He mixed with people and LISTENED to them and in several instances put their ideas into place.
      Not sure how we could ever get that sort of thing back….
      (Although I imagine JR is an example…lucky Wokingham!)

      • Fred H
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        yes we are lucky. I was in 2 minds whether to vote at all – probably Brexit first, maybe Conservative….however when Sir John’s position came under threat that decided me. Rather a fine MP than a man who might have another epiphany. Don’t be modest Sir John – include it.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      I have no problem with externally working Mums I was one myself.

      However, most ordinary workplaces have rules for having babies and children in the workplace. If it is a permanent thing then social services have to check the premises, security locks are required, proper washroom facilities and disposal systems for nappies. This isn’t an easy fix solution and when MPs legislate to control workplace creches they should apply to themselves.

    • rose
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Mike, I would second what you say about mothering – it is full time, more than, and the dividend is beyond price.

  18. MBJ
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    From what I see and read , your presence in Wokingham and parliament is consistent and demonstrates a hard working MP .

    There are also many of us who are contracted just for a few hours , but to serve the public and to be allowed to practice ,we need to read daily , go on courses , research problems at home and keep on top of new research . It is a lifestyle.

    I personally do go to bed thinking about problems and in the few times I wake at night those problems are still with me , but it is not distressful ; it simply speaks of the demands of certain types of work . There are many jobs like this , but what is striking about political work as an MP is the abuse you are all subject to. I find much of it distasteful and even question democracy when so many can fire out such untruths and vitriol out of their mean mouths .

  19. Everhopeful
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The “job” of MP is very aspirational and probably delivers a nice lifestyle.
    As with preaching, teaching, acting and being a monarch, it has one main prerequisite. You must be able to speak in public. Not just whiteboard/flip chart stuff but “rallying the troops”rhetoric.
    Some people just can’t do that and I often wonder how many great ideas are thus lost.
    After all …the entire world is in a horrible mess. Look at Australia. And much of the mess is down to policies and the rigid theories that those in power insist on following…be they economic or environmental.

    • SM
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      If you think the job of being an MP delivers a nice lifestyle, then you obviously know nothing of the reality.

      Having worked alongside a very dedicated MP for many years, I can tell you that an MP is expected, among other requirements:

      to be an expert on everything, big or small
      to be available for contact 24/7, every month of the year
      to attend every debate in the Chamber and every meeting of any Committee of which they are a member
      to canvass every home in the constituency at least once a week, come rain or shine, election or not
      and to cope, uncomplainingly, with media intrusion, personal abuse and threats of violence requiring additional domestic security.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Don’t be so utterly silly.
        I meant fulfilment and status and a nice house in a nice area. Which of course they earn!!
        That’s obvious.
        OF COURSE I understand the hard work.
        DID YOU ACTUALLY READ MY COMMENT??
        Or is it a problem of comprehension?

  20. Iain Gill
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Having moved around a lot and experienced a lot of MP’s, and needed their help both for myself, and also for family and friends, I have seen the good, the bad, and the in between.
    The thing I find most frustrating about any MP is that they consider their job done if they are just a glorified message passing service. Passing the constituents letter onto the relevant minister without adding any further value whatsoever. And passing the ministers reply back with limited or no comment. I think the days are numbered for that part of the job, as mostly we can all find out who the relevant minister is and get a reply ourselves.
    What we need from MP’s is an empathy, and an ability to see they are systematically having the wool pulled over their eyes by the civil service and other parts of the public sector. Far too many parts of the public sector routinely lie to MP’s and have been getting away with that for a long time. I am an individual and I have lots of evidence of this, from an MP’s perspective the evidence must be massive. Simply forwarding letters to ministers is not enough.
    Good luck to all MP’s.

  21. Ian @Barkham
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    This may seem a bit left field way of responding to your usual excellent writing, but in many ways it outlines just as much the fault line in the HoC and how we are Governed. Servants of the People are just that a Servant paid by the People to do a job – but compared to most very well paid for the privilege

    I am not a fan of awards and honors given as tokenism for people for just doing their job. But all MP’s not just the new ones should take on board what has been quoted as the Ricky Gervais pre-amble at the Golden Globes last night. Everything he said was just as applicable to the HoC as it was to his audience in Hollywood. In fact it was applicable to all Governments and all individuals that make money from being in the public domain.

    In essence it is not to be a Hypocrite, not to play the ‘Woke’ card, think things through look at the real ramifications not the signal you send out, but above all ‘get real’

    If you don’t understand the ‘real world’ haven’t played in the real world with its horrible day-today realities, don’t pass judgement and don’t interfere.

  22. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Thank you Sir John got setting out the basic minimum for aspiring MP’s. Much more sacrifice is required – you for instance could earn more outside of Parliament than you do now. So you have consciously made a sacrifice. I think constituency selection committees need to think hard about whether they want a candidate who will earn more in Parliament than they ever could by their own efforts in th economy. And then there is ‘thinking time’. You need to allocate a huge amount of ‘leisure’ time to thinking, because if you have not got a grip of issues, how can you make a contribution to any debate. Powell said you should never enter the chamber without a ‘bomb’ (killer question) in your pocket.

  23. oldwulf
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Northern MPs have the disadvantage of a long commute between their constituency and Parliament. I do not know how much of their time is taken up with commuting, its affect on their health and wellbeing nor the possible reduction in their availability for constituents. By comparison, London MPs must have an easy life !

    In the interests of equality, should Parliament sometimes sit outside of London ?

    Alternatively, as we are now in the 21st century, is the time now approaching when a virtual Parliament is a possibility ?

    Reply There would be numerous security and cost issues if we had other Parliamentary buildings elsewhere in the country.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      @oldwulf

      While understanding the cost etc, although that could be mitigated with less MP’s. Removing MP’s daily life away from the Westminster insular bubble would more than compensate and improve the quality of our Government.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. There should be no requirement for MPs to be physically present in the chamber to listen to and take part in debates and vote. Most big companies have moved to use more video conferencing by internet, partly to reduce travel. That would eliminate those repellent occasions where seriously ill MPs are forced to attend in person to vote – it is medieval. The pairing system should also be formalised and managed electronically. This would enable regional MPs to spend more time in their constituencies. At the moment I have three MPs living with their children families in my constituency and two of them represent distant constituencies.

  24. Sea Warrior
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I want my MP to take on ‘cases’ with extreme care. I suspect too many of them take on too many, rather than directing the complainant to a councillor or a local government officer. And too many, on the Opposition benches, seem to spend too much of their time representing ‘constituents’ who don’t even seem to have a right to be on the electoral roll. In short, MPs need to stick to their TORs.

  25. William Long
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    This is a very interesting insight into what at times must be a very demanding job. It has the potential to be so consuming that it seems to me very important that anyone who does it should have a wider experience of life before taking it on. There must also be a danger of becoming a glorified social service rather than a thinking contibutor to the legislative process. I have no doubt that the subservience of Westminster to Brussels has enhanced the latter factor with a reduction in the attraction of the job to many first class minds. It will be interesting to see if once again being a sovereign legislature raises the quality of candidates coming forward.

  26. Irene
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Reply to Reply

    My apologies. Please let me know where I can find the corresponding figures for Wokingham Parliamentary Constituency so that I can better understand the figures and so that I don’t quote wrong figures again.

    Reply The votes were not counted by Parliamentary constituency. It was a national referendum with a national single binding result counted by local authorities.

  27. BillM
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    So an MP’s life is never done. You must be a glutton for punishment SJ but well done. Now, do MPs now have to contractually sign up to such an agenda before being selected as the PPC?

  28. George
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,

    Are you going to support the Boris WA through it’s third reading? Or are you going to propose some meaningful amendments to make it more acceptable to the UK?

    As it stands, the Boris WA is 95% the same as May’s dreadful WA. It requires the UK to submit to EU rules and ultimately to the ECJ for at least another year. You and Mogg and Boris severely criticised it, so why support THIS dreadful WA?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      If we must leave the European Union, then it is likely that a majority of the UK people would prefer an agreement which is actually LESS to the liking of the anti-European puritans, a minority within the seventeen million out of sixty-seven million.

      One which makes their holiday travel, driving, insurance and the rest easier, protects their jobs, conditions of work and so on.

      So please don’t presume to speak for them.

  29. formula57
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    “… I will write a few pieces about the role of an MP…” – excellent: I look forward to being educated with some true insight.

    (Your earlier diary on the roles of ministers at different levels was most illuminating and left me with a clear understanding I did not have before.)

  30. We got one or two
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    What about, in theory, a MP who also decides to become a Mayor of a region?What job he/she? 48/14 hours ?

  31. Mark
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    The days of MPs spending most of their time as glorified social workers need to come to an end. The role is perhaps needed, but should be provided by a local ombudsman and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Of course, MPs will want to stay in touch with the caseload to identify particular problems, but their job is now changing as a consequence of Brexit.

    Instead of simply rubber stamping regulations from Brussels, we are now looking to make our own laws. That means MPs need to spend much more time understanding the issues behind those laws – and indeed, we need to improve the average quality of MPs and the diversity of expertise they can bring to bear (the Labour benches are particularly dire, as evidenced by the lack of anyone suitable even to be a leader).

  32. villaking
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, how do you feel about public attention to an MP’s private life? Is it fair? You mention the “wrong bed” for example. Should the public have any right to know about such things (provided nothing criminal has occurred) or should an MP’s private life be private? And is it fair to ridicule or embarrass our elected representatives? etc ed Will you tell your new colleagues that they are fair game and they need to have a very thick skin?

    Reply It is like the weather – MPs do not control it.

  33. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    All that sitting around in Westminster coming up with endless new legislation – enough, already. We have plenty of legislation. I seem to remember Cameron promising to repeal two laws for every one new one. Another broken promise.

    The complexity of the tax code is absurd. I think 10 MPs ought to spend all their working time on simplifying it.

    But, the main thing is – for public services to be delivered effectively, they need to be delivered locally – even national services affect people locally. I want my local MP to be at the centre of everything that is going on in a constituency. I expect them to be involved in the local NHS trusts – to be involved in ensuring people can get appointments at their doctor’s – to be involved with making sure people are not isolated by non-existent bus services – to be involved in co-ordinating the voluntary sector with the services delivered by councils. I want them to be a sort of troubleshooter, planner and coordinator of everything that goes on in their constituency. Big job? Okay, give them some more resources.

    • SM
      Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but that’s a foolish suggestion, Mike. You are simply proposing yet another layer of management and bureaucracy.

      An MP should be aware, via his contact with local people and his surgeries, of problems of all kinds, because he will be able to build up a picture of how both public and private spheres are operating. If a problem becomes wide-spread, he can pass on – with some authority and genuine evidence – his opinion on where things are going wrong and perhaps suggest how to arrive at a solution.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but it is not a foolish suggestion at all. There is always a lot of talk about devolving power locally. But, who wields power locally. Bloody councils. I have some experience of councils. They are a joke. They are the last people you want to administer things. Which is why you need a sort of ‘super head’ – a troubleshooter with real clout. An MP should have real clout, have a real job. If the council knows they are getting a visit from their MP to go over the books and look at their planning and projects – they should quake in their boots.

        What is an MP’s job at the moment? Hang around parliament like a bad smell and troop through the lobbies as directed by the whips. Not a job for a grown man.

  34. rose
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Quite right to advise against reading the internet during debates etc. Nothing is more demeaning than an MP jumping up and telling the Chamber what they have just found out there.

  35. Chris C
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Sir,
    First, thankyou for your blog which I have followed for some time and do appreciate.
    Second, I have (also for some time) been puzzled to know what MPs do, what they are for except to check the government’s excesses.
    So I am looking forward to your posts about this.
    This one, though, has not told me much. Clearly by your account MPs are enormously active (“not … a job but a way of life” – rather like being a celebrity but without the media attention – “on call in case disaster strikes” but with no authority or skill to coordinate a response). Doing it 24/7. But what do they do?
    I remember Jim Hacker tried to answer that question for a school magazine. I’m really not trying to be as cruel as Yes Minister’s writers. I would like to know.
    I think the reason many people are cynical about politics is that we have no idea about what MPs actually do or want to do.
    Why do people give up their jobs to enter parliament? What do they want to do?
    Why does it matter?
    Please, please explain.
    Thanks and best wishes

  36. Ken Moore
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    An mp’s job is to :-

    – have common sense (Fail)
    – spend money wisely (not throw money at hugely inefficient services that need reform not propping up with cash)
    – do no harm (fail)
    – prevent the breakup of society into tribal groups demanding special privileges (HUGE FAIL)
    – promote good governance (fail)
    – listen to the concerns of the people (usually a fail)
    – Talk about uncomfortable subjects (huge fail)

    On all counts most mp’s are left wanting.
    etc ed

  37. glen cullen
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I would also encourage new MPs to start a blog similar to this one

  38. NickC
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    JR, Some MPs like yourself take the job very seriously and do excellent work, whilst putting up with almost everyone saying they could do it better. Others like Jared O’Mara, Keith Vaz, Fiona Onasanya, etc, do rather less well. And some like Dominic Grieve, David Gauke, Anna Soubry, etc, vote to allow us – the electorate – to make a decision, but then attempt to snatch it back off us when we decide “incorrectly”.

  39. a-tracy
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    An interesting read from an MPs perspective.

    I thought MPs were required to be in London and had second London homes if they involved more than a one hour commute Monday to Thursday for 35 weeks per year?

    Do all MPs have an office space in London provided or do they work from their London (nearby) home? Do you have an assistant in London or just assistants in your constituency and is that your choice? What do the local constituency helpers do are they sufficiently capable to answer and divert half the correspondence you get? Don’t you have up to £150,000 to spend each year on key-skilled assistants I can’t remember where I got that figure from I think someone accused Jess Phillips recently of using this to bump up her own household spending level as she uses her husband as her key assistant in the constituency (I actually have no problem with this if her constituents are happy with the level of service they receive from them – quite often a spouse as assistant is a reliable, safe pair of hands)?

    You do go above and beyond with this blog, I love that it keeps you abreast of varied points of view and gives people freely an open forum read of your ideas, opinions and thoughts and share theirs with you even if they are not conservative members or constituents, it must also help you to prepare your debates and factor in people that disagree with you views.

    There is also an issue of businesses in each MPs constituency, paying business rates with no local representation, not all business owners live in the exact boundary of their business location but they require their business location MP to act for them on say a key planning issue. I have been told that my business MP cannot assist me because I don’t live in their constituency, fortunately, a fellow director does live in the constituency and could ask our questions. The previous MP for our business area used to poll the local business owners, send questionnaires and get our feedback on a regular basis so this was a surprise to learn about recently, this issue we had also affected five people in their voting constituency. Not a complaint to you personally just my thoughts following your question.

    Reply MPs can decide within the budget what staff to have and where to employ them. Most of us have offices in Westminster close to the Ministers and departments we are questioning and influencing and corresponding with over constituents’ problems. Some MPs also have staff in the constituency in a constituency office.

  40. Peter
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    ‘Your time “working” may be closer to the standard 40 hour week of a “full time” employee, but for all 168 hours of the week you are an MP.‘

    You could always pretend to be a washing machine salesman called ‘Jim’ though.

  41. ukretired123
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    As Sir John points out your life is not your own once elected.
    Sounds more like a trial .
    Always on standby and under the watchful eye.
    Lots of advice from folks as usual including some who would not cut mustard.
    Snowflakes need not apply…

  42. Derek Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    That was another reason to leave the EU.

    The lazy can no longer point at the EU and say it was their fault. Now they have to do something about it.

    Instead of just cutting ribbons at opening events.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      In other words, many of their past lies about the European Union will be exposed for what they are.

      It seldom was its fault.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      How lucky we soon will be.
      Thanks Derek.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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