St Nicolas Earley – the role of an MP


This morning I was invited to  be a guest of the Church at their morning communion service. In place of a sermon I was interviewed about my work as local MP. I am grateful to the Church for their hospitality and interesting conversation.

I was asked about¬† various issues. Do I ¬†represent the people in my constituency who do not vote for me or agree¬† with me about various important¬† matters? ¬†I explained that the job of an MP is to represent all his or her constituents, whatever their views. Where people’s views¬† differ, the MP wishes to see that all sensible viewpoints are properly considered by those making decisions. An MP also wishes to understand the range of opinions and views before making up his or her mind about how to vote and what to say about an issue. Much of the time I am dealing with constituents who do not agree with my view, or with each other, which is why they have written to me to lobby in the first place. By definition the majority who agree with you or are not bothered by the issue tend not to write in.

Do I mainly deal with local or with national matters? I explained that we elect 54 Borough Councillors in Wokingham, and the West Berkshire part of my constituency helps elect the West Berkshire Council. These Councillors make decisions on our behalf and control substantial local budgets for social care, local transport, schools and planning. Councillors do not want MPs to second guess their decisions, so I usually refer local matters to those who make the decisions about them. I work with the Council on national financing of local government, on the framework of law and regulation under which our Councils operate, and national guidance.  Most of my work is about national policy matters, from tax and benefits through law and order to economic policy, defence and foreign affairs.

I was asked what do I do if my own view is in disagreement with the majority view of the constituency? I explained that I try not to let that happen, and find I share the majority view on a number of crucial issues. In each case I have to weigh the evidence, the professional advice and the  views of the constituency when deciding what to say and how to vote.  In some areas I feel I have sufficient expertise and understanding to lead the debate. In other cases I am more reliant on party or government views, or on the majority view of my electors. In each case a judgement has to be made. The aim is to carry as many people with me as possible when coming to a decision and helping Parliament to a national conclusion on an issue. An MP tries to bring his or her local community together in support of an approach where possible.


1 Comment

  1. Antisthenes
    May 12, 2014

    This begs the question does representative democracy as practised in the UK and the rest of the west constitute actually democracy. The best that can be said is that it is better than all the other systems being used in other parts of the world but true democracy it is not. True democracy would entail the whole population being involved in governance and in the decision making process. The dilemma you have of when to make decisions based on popular support or on your own initiative would not arise as it would always be in the hands of your constituents and not yours. Of course the practical problems involved in direct democracy are enormous(not technologically) as vast numbers of the public are not equipped to make informed choices. They are not equipped either because they are lacking sufficient knowledge or do not have the intellect. One way to overcome this deficiency is to substantially improve the education system which of course as long as the progressive lefties have their way will not happen. Until more people have the capacity to be rational and objective in their decision making then we are stuck with the problems of representative democracy and direct democracy will have to stay on the wish list. Of course many of the problems could be minimised if representatives(MPs) were fine upstanding, intelligent people and devoted to those they represent rather than themselves, ideology and power. Unfortunately too many of them fail on that measurement especially those on the left although not exclusively .

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