What does an MP do?

There are 650 different ways of being an MP. It requires your presence in Parliament on many specified times including late nights, following the rules of conduct and Parliamentary process. It  also affords each MP considerable scope to decide how to spend the many days and hours when the Parliamentary timetable does not dictate what is being done.

The main task of an MP is to scrutinise government actions, question Ministers, debate proposed new legislation and revisit old legislation that may be failing. This can be done in Parliament by a number of means, and outside through speeches,. blogs, media interviews and the rest. MPs lead a national debate to improve matters, and to expose things that need improving.

Some MPs follow the news and social media, intervening on whatever is topical. Some MPs specialise in particular subjects so their interventions come with more expertise and knowledge behind them. Some MPs allow the agenda to be driven by their party, others try to get changes to their party’s stance on things.  Some MPs campaign to get a change to a law or government policy. Many do this based on professional campaign lobby groups and organisations who supply them with research and back up. Some of us run campaigns for ourselves based on what our constituents are telling us and on our perceptions of what changes would improve public services or the economy.

The MP needs to get the right balance between listening and leading, between taking the  views of the constituents to government to get explanation or change, and explaining the views of government or Opposition to constituents. The MP also needs to find a good work balance between time spent in the constituency meeting people, attending events and dealing with problems, and time spent in Westminster putting the case of constituents to government and participating in the debates and law making for the UK as a whole.

Some MPs try to become a sort of super Councillor locally. This is  difficult to make work, as the proper Councillors have the powers to settle local  budgets, make planning decisions and guide local services. The MP has no powers in any of these areas and may be resented by those who do have the powers if he or she grandstands too much on what they should be doing. The MP is ,however, often seen by many constituents as the Complaints department about any public service or planning  failing they perceive, so each MP has to work out how to handle that perceived role and whether it is possible in particular cases to be a force for the good or for change in local matters. There is opportunity for joint working  with local Councils as they often need government funding and approvals.

It does help to live in the local area so then your time spent shopping or being out and about  is more time when you are available to constituents if they have something pressing they want to tell you. It also means they can see you are experiencing the same local problems they are if there are road works or flash floods  or whatever nuisance comes to plague us.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    The main problem, as I see it, is that many of the excellent MPs (the few ones with working compasses) seem to be largely on left on the back benches and ignored. Whereas the ones who have been shown to be consistently wrong (but gone along with the group think fashion of the time such as the ERM, the climate change act, wanting to join the EURO, the counterproductive wars, wanting to give more control over us to the EU, wanting open door EU immigration with no quality controls, wanting ever ever increasing taxes and red tape regulations, want to continue with virtual state monopolies in health care and education ….. go on to high office and many end up in the Lords.

    Let us hope Boris can reverse this trend.

    • zorro
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Why does that happen, do you think?


      • UK Qanon
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        The Etablishment DECIDES and produces the narrative.

    • Nig l
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Don’t hold your breath. Every commentator says that Sir Humphrey and the blob will obfuscate, leak against etc so that not much changes.

      We have already read the howls of privileged protest about Dom Cummings and I see the DM is alleging proposed, needed and sensible changes are being stopped and in place the usual performance improvement BS.

      • NickC
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Nig 1, Indeed, Sir Humphrey is behind the latest “let’s heal the divisions” and the “I’m tired of the squabbling” propaganda. If everyone obeys, we won’t notice Sir Humphrey doing a deal with the EU which keeps us so closely aligned we might as well have stayed in.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink


      The comment I passed in reply to MarkB, is equally applicable here. The trouble is we are asking the ‘Turkeys’ to vote for Christmas.

      How on earth does any sane democrat think that the way the House of Lords is constituted has a place in any society. For one, not being accountable to the People means by default they have no vote on matters affecting this country.

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

        Agree with your comment. I’d just change “sane democrat” to “thinking democrat”.

      • NickC
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Ian, Keep the Lords in the HoL (if they want to contribute to the work) but remove their voting rights. Voting to be only by elected “Ealdormen” in the updated democratic second chamber.

  2. Mark B
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The main task of an MP is to scrutinise government . . .

    A job that it is not fit to do. Why do I say this ? Because the government and the Legislature (MP’s) are one of the same. When you have a party before country system, the party always wins. The party holds all the votes and, a PM and an Executive can whip MP’s into voting for things that are not in our nations best interests (eg the EU), are deeply unpopular with the nation (eg Iraq war 2.0), or are not approved of by the nation via party election manifestos (eg International Aid). None of the aforementioned were ever properly scrutinized by MP’s.

    It is now time to look at the way in which we are governed. I have long believed, and argued, that it is time to separate the Legislature from the Executive. Separate elections are called for and at separate periods in the election cycle (eg two years apart). We need to be able to hold those we elect to better account and this would be a good means of doing so.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink


    • Nig l
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Spot on.

      The shallowness and personal ambition of many MPs means that the Executive is rarely held to account. In the last few days, we read that NHS log ins can take up to 12 minutes because of legacy systems, cross rail project out of control, privatisation of the railways an utter failure, creating regional monopolies instead of a national one with no competition, only 1 in 400 low level crimes investigated, thousands of criminals with up to 60 offences still not going to jail and how many fines are uncollected, so called community service not done? Overseas aid wasted etc

      On whose watch. Sir JRs party in power for the last ten years. Accountability. Humbug.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Nig 1 – interesting I didn’t know about several of those.

        Which organisation is responsible for community service? Are all areas throughout the UK failing on this? I can think of several projects locally that community service teams could be used on from cleaning off graffiti on green telecoms boxes, picking up serious litter problems (check out the ex-works/expublic house Nags Head area at the Altrincham/Lymm roundabout the dumping ground there is a complete and utter eyesore with litter now blowing all across the new road system, cleaning windows on unused shops in the shopping centre, keeping all the public areas clean and tidy, whitewashing and sweeping the underpasses regularly, there must be ways of sorting this out, perhaps there are retired local community champion volunteers who would supervise a crew of csw and sign off their hours and other community groups who could use free assistants. These jobs aren’t being done now so they’re not taking paid work off anyone. Plus anyway they have been determined to owe their local community £x of service at the nmw rate for Free as punishment.

        John, Nig1 is correct this is on your governments watch, which ministry brief is this, ask them to sort this out a quick fix that local people can see the benefit of.

    • formula57
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      @ Mark B – the great advantage of your proposal is that it would go a long way to align reality with the views of confused, ignorant citizens of limited application who learn their British constitutional law from watching the West Wing. There are though numerous valid criticisms of the U.S. style of government, not least legislative gridlock.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Our system use to work well. Then we decided to change it. These changes happened early in the last century, mostly to the HoL. The HoC and the PM has, over time, amassed more and more power for themselves. This at the expense of the other institutions. HoL, the Head of State, the judiciary and the media. We rely on all those to be strong and independent of government. Can we say such now ?

        • Mitchel
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          The advent of universal suffrage over the past hundred years meant that government focus shifted-perhaps inevitably- to buying votes rather than building a strong state.

          And,as Robert Michels Iron Law of oligarchy demonstrates,a representative democracy always mutates into an oligarchy.Something Lenin had also pointed out when proposing the idea of a “vanguard”-and,also,before him the Tsars- as an argument for the retention of absolute power.

    • Simeon
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Good morning.

      A perfectly sensible idea in and of itself. However, it addresses just a small fraction of the problem, yet would amount to major constitutional reform. In other words, to address ‘the problem’ substantially and meaningfully, what is required is not merely reform but revolution, an entirely new constitution.

      But such a revolution can only happen in the context of massive societal upheaval. Realistically, that means either some kind of catastrophic economic collapse, or losing a war, being invaded and occupied, and then at some later date regaining independence.

      Constitutional matters cannot be sensibly addressed through elections, for numerous reasons, many of which are quite obvious. A broad recognition that there is a problem is, on its own, not enough; an even broader consensus would be needed for a specific solution. I would suggest finding agreement would be all but impossible. What would be needed is for a dictator, or a monarch, to impose their will on the nation. Nothing else would command the necessary authority.

      Or, in short, we’re screwed. But, being a democracy, we’re screwing ourselves, so that’s justice of a kind, at least on the macro level.

    • eeyore
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      It took many centuries’ struggle to get the executive fully answerable to the people, via their representatives in Parliament. Kicking it out of Parliament again seems a rather retrograde step to me.

      It has to be there because only Parliament can vote supply and make laws. I was slightly surprised that Sir John did not stress the former, as it is the reason the House of Commons exists in the first place.

      If he had said that an MP’s central function is jealous protection of taxpayers’ money from a predatory and insatiable government, I should have been better pleased. But that role seems long abandoned.

  3. Mick
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Nearly in topic
    Are these buffoons for real who votes for these idiots, I think the people who voted for them need to get a reality check or along with all the undemocratic remoaners pack your bags and go live in your land of milk and honey called Europe, we are going to be free once again on the 31st of this month but if that’s not you want then go bye bye you’ll not be missed

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Oh dear!
      Talk about heart sinking.
      Surely not!! Who can bear a rerun of the last three years?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      If there’s prima facie evidence of a crime or crimes, then the authorities have a duty to investigate.

      If it relates to subverting our very democracy then it is more important still.

      There are heaps of such evidence relating to the Leave campaigns. It is a national disgrace to the UK on the world stage that May shut down one inquiry some time ago.

      The loss of sixteen million of the best-educated, youngest, and most productive in this country would be its absolute end if your advice were followed.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        You lost and it is clear that the majority just want Brexit done now.

        Very few of those sixteen million would be of any use at all to a foreign country.

        I’d advise the vast majority of young people NOT to go to university and waste their money on a degree for its own sake and to try and get a portable trade instead.


        EU membership was all about making it easier for our young to emigrate according to Andy. We have deprived them of their right to live and work in Europe according to him.

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

          Wrong. EU membership is about much more than that.

          Free movement – which comes with the single market, not just the EU – certainly makes it easier for workers to emigrate. But some countries – like Spain for example – have chosen to allow non-workers to retire there, providing they are not a drain on the state.

          This has benefited hundreds of thousands of older Britons – who, frankly, of little economic use otherwise. It is that the generation of Baby Boomers who contribute to this site who will lose out most. You’ll mostly not be able to go.

          Young people will still get working visas and by the time I retire, 25 years from now, we will be back in the EU anyway. So I will be able to retire to Italy.

          It’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face and you lot have done it. Notice that the rich Brexiteers like Lord Lawson, Lilley, Farage etc have no problem living abroad. Unlike most of you.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

            That is nonsense Andy.
            My parent’s generation retired and lived abroad in places like Spain Italy and France way before the EU and single market.

          • a-tracy
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Spain recharge the British NHS for health services Andy.

      • Ginty
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to the Left via Political Correctness we can no longer say things even if they are perfectly true.

        You can be sacked or even prosecuted for saying things which we took for granted 18 months ago, such is the pace of cultural Marxist revolution.

        Well that’s been rumbled now. The Gervais moment in Hollywood marks a turning point. The Left have abused their power so much and now lost it. Young people will crave the truly edgy and dangerous ‘comedy’ they saw that night and realise how fake and safe the left wing entertainers really are and once you’ve lost control of satire you’ve lost control of politics and the language of politics.

        You’re out of power for a long while now. Get used to it.

        Recourse to lawyers because you lost the vote (four times) looks like very sour grapes indeed. The ballot box is where the legal fees will be paid – in full.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          There’s the world of difference between things which are actually true, and those that a safety-in-numbers ignorant mob claim to be true, even if they all believe it themselves.

          You can’t be prosecuted for saying the first, but you can for the second if it is defamatory or incites a crime.

          If you are worried about people being sacked for it, then you need stronger trade unions and better employment law, to defend workers’ rights to express opinions freely outside of work.

          It’s not the Left, who gave all this arbitrary power to employers.

        • Andy
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          This is always a perplexing argument. What can you not say that you want to say?

          Providing you don’t incite hate or violence you can say what you like.

          What you actually mean is that you are probably embarrassed to say what you actually think.

          And that would be an issue for you, not the law.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

            It’s so dangerous to my career that I dare not risk saying it. People have been sacked for it.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            Andy and Martin.
            You need to look up the definition of hate speech and how an offence is said to have happened.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

            Yes, but that comes down to too much arbitrary power for EMPLOYERS.

            It is nothing to do with the LAW, and therefore not with any political party which may have made that law.

      • NickC
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Martin, The subversion of our democracy came entirely from the Remain camp. Outsourcing our governance to a foreign empire is the antithesis of democracy. Desperately maintaining that only the EU can rule us is not merely untrue, it is unhinged.

        • bill brown
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          Nick C,

          Fake news with no factual proof

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          Could you identify a Remain spokesperson who said or who even conclusively implied any of that utter baloney?

          If it were true then the UK would not be able to leave for one thing.

          • NickC
            Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

            Martin, Remain had a leaflet which claimed that for every £1 that the UK gives the EU, we get back nearly £10. We put in £20bn/yr, more or less, so Remain claims we get back nearly £200bn. Last year our total goods sales to the rEU was only £164bn (ex Rotterdam). The Remain claim is not just wrong it’s ludicrous.

            The UK “can” leave (har, har) because of an EU law – Art50, not UK law. Our ability to leave is only at the EU’s permission. As you have seen for 3 years. Outsourcing our governance to a foreign empire is the antithesis of democracy. You have not a scintilla of proof that we are incapable of ruling ourselves.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      yet another attempt to revisit an unpalatable truth – – they LOST. They cannot get over it. Much the same on here, people should move on to future matters not the past – done and dusted.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        I don’t know who this “they” are that you mention.

        I think that the UK should leave the European Union as soon as possible – it is a drag on the whole project.

        However, those guilty of electoral offence must be brought to justice, and it seems that there could be one or two.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          as an example – funding 15 different, mostly Royal Mail delivered leaflets, full page local newspaper advertising, candidate attacking verging on abuse, false claims like achieving longer trains – – is that the sort of thing you are talking about Marty? I couldn’t agree more.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            If your claims were true, and if they constituted offences, then yes.

            But neither are generally the case, are they?

            Amusingly, even if so, the High Court found that Johnson was not guilty of Misconduct by lying to the public about the net cost of membership being £350 million a week.

            So it’s now a right to lie to the people, upheld by the Court, it appears.

          • NickC
            Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

            Martin, £350m/week gross is just the £18.2bn bill from the EU divided by the weeks in a year. We get some back as direct cash (Thatcher rebate), some back as indirect cash (grants, programs, etc), and some we never see again because the EU is a rent-seeker. It does not even include the loss to the UK of the fish that the EU steals. All of it under EU control. Of course the £350m/wk claim was true – if anything it was an underestimate.

        • NickC
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Martin, One or two? Or “heaps”? I know there are heaps of evidence that the Remain campaigns relentlessly lied.

          • bill brown
            Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

            Nick C,

            Both sides as we now all know.

            Happy New Year

        • Edward2
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

          Do you mean everyone who voted Conservative at the general last election?
          You are going to need many trains and many camps Martin for millions you are targeting.
          Is that what you are really proposing?

      • Fred H
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        oh OK then Marty I mean people like and including YOU.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      If ever there needs to be a public enquiry into anything, it is how we have ended up with a Nuclear power plant that will deliver the most expensive energy imaginable. I mean, who was the politician who negotiated that ?


  4. Kevin
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “revisit old legislation that may be failing”

    If you have been elected on a platform to #GetBrexitDone, any and all legacy EU law that remains in our legal system should be made subject both to your power of amendment, and to exclusive interpretation by our courts. Decisions of the ECJ should not be applicable in the UK as a living source of law. Just as you would not ratify a treaty with the Vatican giving their court the authority to interpret Latin phrases in our legal system, so you should not ratify or endorse, for example:
    1) Art. 174(1) of the Withdrawal Agreement, or Clause 131 of the Political Declaration, both of which provide that, where a dispute (arising under the relevant agreement) raises a question of interpretation of provisions or concepts of EU law, the ECJ shall have jurisdiction to give a binding ruling; or,
    2) Art. 4(5) of the WA, which provides an (apparently one-sided) obligation that: “In the interpretation and application of this Agreement, the [UK’s] judicial and administrative authorities shall have due regard to relevant case law of the [ECJ] handed down after the end of the transition period” (emphases added).

    • Mark B
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      It is almost as if they wanted us to be kept as closely aligned as possible so that when the time comes, we can slip seamlessly back in.

    • Nig l
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      I believe in the second case this is what would happen anyway, Supreme Courts ‘note’ judgements from elsewhere to help them ‘develop’ their own. This is how equitable law moves forward. Equally if you are exporting you have to comply with the regs/laws etc if that country. If the Vatican said all contracts have to be in Latin, you comply or do not deal.

      As for the first example I believe Boris will introduce a clause in our Withdrawal Bill giving us supremacy over the ECJ during the transition period. From what you quote this would seem to be BS.

      Maybe our host could clarify?

    • NickC
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Kevin, You are entirely correct. The UK will not leave the EU on 31 Jan 2020. We merely swap subservience under the TEU and TFEU for subservience under the WA treaty.

      • bill brown
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Suppositions and fake news, we do not know what it is going to look like and neither do you. Absolutely no proof.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          Yes there is proof bill.
          You can read the current terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Aside from the functional and administrative responsibilities of an MP’s job –

    Loyalty to your principles or loyalty to your party? The two at some point will collide head on. Ask yourself this question. Would we be leaving the EU without the Goliath presence, charisma, belief and gargantuan efforts of Farage? I doubt it. I suspect we’d now be on the verge of being dragged further down the rabbit hole. And yet the Tory party contains many Eurosceptic MPs who found it impossible to impose themselves or in some cases simply chose to elevate party and career above principle.

    Herein lies the fundamental flaw in party politics. That bad laws find their way onto the statute book simply because MPs put party above morality and principle.

  6. GilesB
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The main task of an MP is to scrutinise government actions, question Ministers, debate proposed new legislation and revisit old legislation that may be failing.

    Exactly. It is the unique responsibility that nobody else can discharge. Whether we need so many MPs is a separate issue

    99% of their time and effort should be devoted to this role which of course includes listening to constituents and discussing policy alternatives with constituents and others

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (Oxford PPE and a deluded climate alarmist & a B****** to Brexit remainer still) says there needs to be an investigation into the EU referendum and its result. The party will, it seems table, an amendment to the Boris Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

    I assume he is concerned about the blatant government bias and unfair expenditure for remain and the attempts by Cameron and the government to slope the pitch to effect that result? Or perhaps the massive bias shown by the BBC on this issue.

    A far more useful thing to have an inquiry into is:- “why we are wasting so much money pushing “renewable” energy and electric cars before the technology works or is cost effective?” Peter Lilly and Matt Ridley to chair it perhaps. Or why are so many of out MPs so lacking in any understating of science and engineering and so badly advised that all but a handful of them voted for the moronic and hugely damaging Climate Change Act?

    So many far better ways to spend this money – just reducing taxes for example would be hundreds of times better..

    • Edward2
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Well said as usual Lifelogic.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      The party will, it seems table, an amendment to the Boris Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

      This will be a good test to see which side of the fence the new Speaker is located…

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    The Today programme suggest that the government wants to shift growth to poorer areas from more prosperous ones – with measures in the budget. Wrong policy yet again. Just cut and simplify taxes for everyone, get some real competition banking, cut red tape and let businesses locate in the areas that they see as the right place for that business.

    Government encouraging business to locate in the wrong place with fiscal bribes is not a good plan. Rather like their policy of rolling out premature “renewable” energy technology and electric cars using tax payer bribes and market manipulations is a duff policy.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes this does work though Lifelogic, I can think of two examples Warrington 1970s new town boom and Salford when the BBC relocated to Salford Quays.

  9. margaret
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that it is a job of self motivation. In a way it is like setting a business up in that you have to understand your clientele , guide them towards a better way of dealing with issues, helping development and using powers of persuasion to improve standards.

    I watched the 18th Dec Tony Blair lecture on bringing the labour party together. He still had good ideas, but not implementable by his party. Both he and an interviewer post lecture repeatedly talked about class distinction. This is very much an outmoded social classification designed to elevate some and put others down . He and others must remember that society is people and not classes. There are millions of examples which explode the myth of who to put into their social box and who to leave out, so I would suggest that they move on and take the arrogance out of us and them -speak.

    It also may be a good idea to stop harking on about historical political divisions.Within political Party’s, ideas constantly change . What was once left, becomes middle , what was once right also becomes middle, what is extreme becomes acceptable and so on . History teaches us and similarly tells us what to avoid.

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hegel : “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

  10. SM
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    John, I refer to your paragraph about the difference between MP and councillor responsibilities. When I was an active Party worker, I was continually horrified by the public’s ignorance of political matters – it didn’t matter whether it was about not knowing the name of your local MP, or what the local Council actually did (or didn’t!) do, or what was the difference between a local or general election.

    On one occasion, I had a lengthy argument with a constituent at a local election, who firmly believed that as her Ward had 3 councillors, she was obliged to vote for 1 Tory, 1 Labour and 1 LibDem candidate. On another, a resident assured me that Parliamentary constituencies had to have two MPs, one Labour, one Conservative.

    Isn’t it time that schools started educating 15-16yr olds about what the electorate’s rights and duties are, and explaining the current system of local and national government?

    • Andy
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Why start with schools? This site demonstrates that most adults do not have a clue.

      It really is quite shocking how ill informed many of you are.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Andy’s usual mixture of smears and bluster without a shred of evidence or examples.

      • SM
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        “Why start with schools?” – well, as that’s where education is usually provided, it might be a good start!

        By “ill-informed” you mean, I take it, that we do not agree with your sour opinions.

      • NickC
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Evidence please?

        • Fred H
          Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          trolls don’t bother with trivia like that.

  11. BJC
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I imagine it’s becoming increasingly difficult to strike a reasonable work/life balance for MPs. We’ve had a disproportionate rise in population, all with the right to be represented by their local MP. In the meantime, the 21st century business of Parliament adheres to quaint 18th century procedures and practises, which take up an inordinate amount of MPs’ precious time. Which is more important; tradition or constituents?

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I think this is a very good summary of what I expect from Steve Barclay who is our recently elected MP here. I want to say that most of us are very pleased with his work and – yes – patience!
    He is unmarried and can give his life to politics.
    I am concerned for MPs who have families to look after though, especially young mothers. I do not think they can possibly give their love and time to their families and I think the children probably miss that – especially in their early years.
    I can see an immense strain on family life on many MPs – men and women – who live far from home during the week too. And temptations when given in to delight the media!

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      That goes for many serious jobs. Other people have to pick up the slack, believe me.

    • UK Qanon
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      MPs these days are career politicians.
      VERY FEW of 650 really care about the country or its people. It is so obvious.

    • APL
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Mike Stallard: “I am concerned for MPs who have families to look after though, especially young mothers. ”

      Don’t be.

      Anyone here picked on ‘some random’ ( as the youth say today ) and forced him or her to be an MP?

      No, didn’t think so.

      Yet, they keep standing in their constituency, decade after decade.

      It can’t be that bad a job.

      Where else can you join with only the election deposit to rub together, spend ten years ( two parliamentary terms ) and walk away a millionaire, with a gold plated pension?

      Where, other than the civil service or pubic sector, of course.

  13. JoolsB
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    When there are devolved legislatures for Scotland, Wales & probably NI again soon, why are there still 650 UK MPs when the bulk of the workload for 117 of them is done by those assemblies. With the exception of just 20 seats Boris can thank the people of England, and only the people of England, for his majority and yet he and your party and the whole of the UK Parliament deliberately continue to ignore the elephant in the room that is the English Question, the West Lothian Question and the skewed Barnett Formula.

    I sat in the public gallery for the day recently and watched the rabble that are the SNP dominate on what were mostly English matters such as tuition fees and the NHS and why are there SNP MPs in the Health and Education (English only) Select Committees. I would suggest that if these part time MPs were not allowed to meddle and vote on English only matters they would have very little to do and yet the taxpayer is paying them the same salary, same expenses and gold plated pensions as those in English seats.

    For someone who purports to speak for England John, when are you going to knock on Boris’s door and demand the good people of England who have waited long enough are given equality both constitutionally and financially with the rest of the UK? And that does not mean balkanisation of our nation in the form of regionalisation and it does not mean the sop that is English vetoes for English Laws. It means an English Parliament, an English First Minister and a Secretary of State for England all of whom will stand up for England much better than 650 self serving UK MPs who put England last and the rest of the UK first every time.

    Tell Boris to stop taking England for granted and do something about the rotten deal our kids, our sick and our elderly get compared to the rest of the pampered UK.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I’ll second all that. I would like to see Sir John stick his neck out on this and depart from the compromises which have gone so far. Devolution within England and not to it as a single entity undermines its whole identity.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      I agree. It is high time that the SNP and Plaid Cymru MP’s were put on both short hours and half pay. It can be done ! The Tories have the numbers and the moral high ground. It will be seen as both a logical and decent move. It will also give the government a far larger vote share on England only matters.

      Sir John. For the first time in decades the Conservative Government has a golden opportunity placed before it. Please take it.

  14. Bless my cotton sock
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Rome has never been known to meddle in politics, even at the set up of the EU, let alone anywhere else.
    It never stops does it.

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The Today programme this morning suggests that the government wants to shift growth to poorer areas from more prosperous ones – with some measures in the budget. Wrong policy yet again. Just cut and simplify taxes for everyone, get some real competition banking, cut red tape and let businesses locate in the areas that they see as the right place for that business.

    Government encouraging business to locate in the wrong place with fiscal bribes is not a good plan unless you want lots of businesses to be in the wrong locations for them. When they fiscal bribes stop they will probably have to move to the right place. Rather like the government policy of rolling out premature “renewable” energy technology and electric cars using tax payer bribes and market manipulation/fixing is a duff policy.

  16. Fred H
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Budget – March 11th.
    Mr Javid will update his cabinet colleagues on the performance of the economy before facing MPs later on Tuesday. He told the BBC: “There will be an infrastructure revolution in our great country. “We set out in our manifesto during the election how we can afford to invest more and take advantage of the record low interest rates that we are seeing, but do it in a responsible way. “There will be up to an extra £100bn of investment in infrastructure over the next few years that will be transformative for every part of our country,” He added: “In the Budget, we will be setting out how we are going to take advantage of all the huge opportunities that Brexit will bring.

    “Also, how we are going to help hard-working people in particular – especially with the cost of living – and how we are going to level up across the entire country.”

    The real job begins?

  17. agricola
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Whatever MPs do or do not do, I would like to see a return to aspects of the Victorian era. Before our troll Corbynista contributors have an apoplectic fit I am not advocating the return of cholera or any other of the downsides of the era.

    It was a time when the engineers and scientists of the time reacted to the ills of the age and brought about unprecedented progress and freedom to UK mankind. The spread of railways creating a great freedom to travel and move goods replacing the horse and cart. The Manchester Ship Canal bringing raw cotton to Manchester and cotton goods direct to the World, while at the same time dealing a blow to Southern USA state slavery. The first sewage system in the World ,built in Liverpool and then one in London that eventually eliminated cholera when combined with schemes to supply fresh water. A worlds first underground rail system in London, eventually electrified that developed into what we have today. Not to mention electric light, power and gas. All of this turned the UK into the wealthiest destination in the World. I am not going to fall into the trap of judging it all by the politics of today , but most would recognise it as one hell of an achievement.

    I would like to see the same Victorian drive for progress applied to the problems of today. The lack of national water distribution to solve the geographical problems of today. The total inadequacy of our power generation to cope with existing peak demand or it’s future increased usage. The totally amateur approach to waste collection and it’s recycling or disposal. Inadequate roads and abysmal railways we seem to suffer year upon year. Our Luddite solutions to the control of the atmosphere and all the noxious particulate that, down the line, puts such a load on the NHS. far sited protection against the extremes of climate change which has always been a reality but not necessarily for the reasons that many would have us believe. The necessary rapid change to our use of plastic by the substitution of alternatives. The need to industrialise our archaic building and planning industry that limits what we can build in both quality and quantity. A solution to which could put an end to street living. The destruction or limitation of that mountain of legislation, regulation and negativity that acts as a brake on the solving of problems such as the above. You enquire about the job of MPs, can I suggest that you start facilitating the above with your newly discovered legislative powers post Brexit.

    No doubt our readership can think of other subjects for correction, not least our excessive growth in population, the reduction of which could ease the burden of many of the above headings. Personally I think we need much less government and more problem solving by individuals with the ability and the freedom to act. If only each problem could be the Big Stink that forced Parliament to accept the need for sewers.

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

      We want superb ideas and implementation of those ideas.
      “Ideas people” are not necessarily those who can get up and perform/ speak ..media etc.
      So “back room” people are needed…but only those with sane plans need apply.

      You missed out the wonderful stagecoach network we had late 18th century.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        Everh ….the first transport system to convey the wealthy, a whole support industry for the few. Reminds me of HS2.

        • agricola
          Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Possibly on day one it did convey the wealthy, but it quickly evolved as people moved into cities and that wealth started to trickle down. The main point I would make is that most of what the Victorians did was profitable and based on private enterprise. I should also add that HS2 is tax based and I have yet to see a profit forecast, all we get are cost escalations, possibly because it is not “Isambard Arkwright’s” money that is being invested .

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Chancellor Javid is,today, promising an “infrastructure revolution”.

      Embrace the Great Leap Forward!

      • Mark B
        Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        And buy shares in tractor production 😉


    • Derek Henry
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Impossible agrucola !

      Until we destroy the

      ” How are we going to pay for it myth ”

      And ask the right question

      ” Do we have enough skills and real resources available to get the job done “

      • Mark B
        Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        We pay for it the same way as we always have. Print, borrow and steal (tax).

        We have imported so many people one would think we would have enough by now ?

    • forthurst
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      We only have people running the country who make stupid decisions. We have an effective duopoly as a result of the FPTP system which prevents new parties with new ideas replacing the tired old incumbents who continue to do things that the majority did not call for and do not want such as continuing to import the third world when the majority are unassimilable because they do not behave like the English either for cultural or evolutionary reasons and are a net drain on resources. They accept the Global Warming hoax because they are incapable of understanding science and for the same reason they accept the premise of feminism which has actually been designed to persuade English women to remove themselves from the gene pool. They prevent free speech because they are uncomfortable with the truths that might come out even if it might have saved hundreds of thousands of English girls from having their lives destroyed. They insist on a non-selective education system for the masses whilst they can send their own to selective schools whilst achieving a substantial reduction in the scope and rigour of secondary exams and the creation of a tertiary system which wastes the time and money of hundreds of thousands of students a year.

  18. hardlymatters
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Two terms should be enough for anyone in that HoC bubble- after that most MPs lose touch with the reality- as shown in today’s piece- self praise not worth a damn, but not one word about food banks

    Reply No self praise in the article, and it was not about food banks! See my item on the Wokingham night shelter.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      What you on about ?

      You can get a free nose job and Botox on the NHS ! (Sun today) We are a generous society.

  19. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    With the massive cost of a new Parliament building sometime in the future ( the cost will inevitably rise and rise just like any other big job the govt is involved in ) Why can’t MPs work from home? What happened to the society we were told about many years ago? Also – with a few attacks from our wonderful ( sarcasm) immigrant culture that we have to pay for, at or near to, the HoP if everyone was spread all over the country, it would be safer and save the cost/time of travelling and taxpayer funded “second homes” – which has been shown to be VERY nice for some in tax-flipping purposes.
    I spent 40 very hard years working machinery in a factory. No option of running machinery and manually handling the finished product from home. Do politicians REALLY need to be all together in London? Or is the prestige of going to an incredibly expensive taxpayer funded building part of the allure of the job?

    I don’t know if it just my computer but the scroll bar/arrows in the dialogue box don’t seem to work – I can only move up and down through my typing by using the up/down arrow keys which are on my keyboard.

  20. Irene
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The primary task of an MP must be to act in the nation’s interest. Secondly, in the interests of their constituents, and finally in the interests of whichever political party the MP represents if indeed they belong to a party at all.

    In order to do so, they must be in a position to scrutinise more than just government ‘actions’. It may be too late by the time any plan of government is put into action. If MPs are not in a position to scrutinise plans BEFORE they become actions, the whole being-an-MP becomes pointless, government becomes dictatorship, and we end up with p*ss poor performance, as has happened far too often during very recent years.

    Personal ambition should be dumped at the point of entrance, or at least kept out of the spotlight, and loyalty to any party (if the MP belongs to one) should never become the paramount reason for their existence as an MP. The MP must listen to the voice of their constituents, not the voice of their own ambition. Sadly, there is far too much evidence that some MPs have their own career interests in the foreground of their thinking.

    MPs must not be precious about their status. They chose to become a member of parliament, and need to remember that they’re just doing a job. Many people – female and male members of the human species – work long hours, with absolutely no choice as to whether they’re on-call 24/7 to be sent to work anywhere at any time for as long as necessary, far away from home, inconvenient though that may be to their personal life. It is part of the contract of employment sometimes.

    The role of Whips should be scrutinised too, but that’s another debate perhaps.

    • Irene
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      PS. Truth is another part of the job. Always.

  21. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Try to throw a spanner, Anna
    Don!t be an enemy, Jeremy
    Let Europe be gone, John
    Just get yourself free
    650 ways to be an MP

  22. Treacle
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I live in Scotland, and each time there is a general election the candidates all distribute leaflets promising that they will deal with local issues, transport, housing, education, the state of the roads and so on. It’s highly dishonest: all these issues are devolved, and a Westminster MP has no responsibility for any of them! Things are run badly in Scotland, by the SNP in Holyrood, but half the population think “it’s Westminster’s fault”. This really throws into relief the flawed nature of Tony Blair’s devolution settlement.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      exactly what a close relative of my wife repeatedly says. The SNP live on the vitriol poured into Westminster, what a problem they would have if independant and had to deliver on the scorn!

  23. Edward2
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I realise that this is off topic but, what a refreshing change on Politics Today on BBC 1
    Chaired brilliantly by Adam Fleming.
    Today’s programme was a delight as hardly anyone interrupted and guests spoke well and were articulate and informed.
    A return to political programmes I enjoyed so much in the past.
    Two young new MP’s
    Both articulate and passionate about why they were in politics.
    Dehenna Davison a new and very impressive MP and Bridget Phillipson a Labour MP
    Optimism for the future.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 7, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Correction BBC2

  24. APL
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    The “job” of an MP
    What does an MP do?

    Next in the series, Are we getting value for money from our MPs ( including MSPs, MWA, NIA, VEEMs ( Very expensive elected Mayors) )

    Short answer: N0.

    Question: Is the Public sector the only sector that is growing in the UK economy?

    Question: Why don’t we abandon the waste of money that is Parliament – turn it in to homes for the Migrants. And move to a system of referenda, along the lines of the Swiss?

    • Mark B
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Whilst I am all for the Swiss model for democracy, it seems that no matter what, unless they get the answer they want, it will either be ignored, or fudged.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Maybe, for one thing, because Swiss public opinion is not largely controlled by a tiny number of rich individuals, such as own UK newspapers and other media?

      • Edward2
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        They have the internet and TV and radio and newspapers in Swirzerland .

      • NickC
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Martin, So people freely buying (or not buying) newspapers constitutes “control”? in your thinking, does it? I have news for you Andy: most of us get our information from the internet now – because the MSM was so relentlessly Remain. You lot tried calling us fruitcakes and loonies, and when that didn’t work, you graduated onto even more ad hominems – thick, flat-earthers, xenophobes, racists, 17.4m angry Tory pensioners, etc. You’re the ones controlled by the establishment.

  25. Derek Henry
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant John !

    Remember when the Tories demanded that the ultra-wealthy started paying their fair share of tax so parliament could dramatically expand military funding, NHS funding, infrastructure funding, social care funding, police funding?

    Yeah, me neither.

    Time to tell the truth about taxes John and what they are really for. Make Brexit a roaring success. It is imperative we destroy the tax and spend myth.

    It is just a matter of time. Might as well front run it and take the credit.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      I remember when the Conservatives called for those with the broadest shoulders to pay more. They then froze higher rate thresholds and removed child benefit from higher rate earners ( without including household income in the calculation). They also removed the tax free threshold from anyone earning over £100K while taking more from £150K plus earners by reducing their headline rate.

      I also recall that tax increases formed more of the austerity measures vaunted by George Osborne. The 80 20 split never materialised with spending continuing to rise while the tax take necessarily increased disproportionatly to pay for it.

      How is your memory Del boy?

      • Edward2
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        Agreed NS
        Top 1% now paying 27% of all income tax.

  • 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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