Tuesday, June 01, 2010

BBC publishes new MPs' Diaries

Some of the new intake of MPs have been talking to the BBC about their first weeks at Westminster.

It's interesting to read about their different experiences of the place.

Rory Stewart takes over from David MacLean in Penrith and the Borders. Mr MacLean was one of the prime movers in trying to keep MPs' expenses secret. He also stood in 1983 in Inverness against Russell Johnston which is when I first heard of him. Anyway, his successor will I hope be prepared to be more open and transparent than his predecessor.

He described the first meeting of the 1922 Committee. I don't get the need to bang on tables when your leader comes into the room - but then I'm a Lib Dem and we tend not to show too much reverence to our leaders. Respect, if they earn it, but we just don't do deference and forelock tugging.

One of the most interesting things he had to say was his experience when trying to chat to some Labour MPs. He's made some friends on the other side of the House but others wore their tribalism on their sleeve:

I actually had a very good conversation with some of them though I must confess there was a moment I thought, when I was talking to Luciana Berger (MP for Liverpool Wavertree), that when I told her I was a Tory she didn't seem so keen on talking to me anymore.

It felt a little bit like I had turned up at a dance and somehow was wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

Whatever happened to taking people as you find them? I don't think I'd ever voluntarily have a conversation with a member of the BNP - and even under coeercion I'd find it difficult, but most people, from all parties, are good people who are there because they want to improve people's lives.

The Liberal Democrat contributor is David Ward, the new Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East. He writes about how he missed his son's birthday:

I've got to check my rail ticket for getting back home - it's my son's birthday on Thursday and I'm actually taking a later train because it's £40 cheaper so I'll get home at 11pm on his birthday.

I'm saving the taxpayer £40 but is this really what I want to be doing to my son on his birthday and missing the meal I would be having with the family?


What I get from him is that he just wants to get on with work and he's a bit fed up with the pomp and ceremony.

What a difference a week makes for former NUM president Ian Lavery. On week 2, he was fed up with the lack of a proper desk, describing himself as an "industrial gypsy." It's amazing what a few diamonds and a bit of a show can make to a left wing trade unionist:

It's been quite a lively day today, the day of the Queen's Speech. For me it was a very, very extraordinary day, all from the way in which the Queen arrived to the House of Lords this morning, the pageantry, the cavalry, the horses. It was absolutely fantastic.

I'm not a great Royalist but to see this display was quite fascinating and I must say really, really enjoyable.
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Maybe he should have a chat with Luciana Berger about open-mindedness. He's on the Labour benches, so she'll talk to him.

Tory MP for Totnes Sarah Wollaston, the former GP who was selected by open primary, has a realistic sense of the precariousness of her position. I like her attitude:

It's quite a strange experience being a new MP. You swing from really special moments like that backwards and forwards to times when it's going horribly wrong.

You can never quite decide whether you're an important person or really, right down there at the bottom of the food chain.

Finally, Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central didn't like the Tories' triumphalism:

All the Tories in the dining room banged and shouted, and yeah, it did feel like a public school canteen, not that I've ever been in a public school canteen. That's when I decided to leave.
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This is just a taster of the programme that's on Radio 4 at 4 pm today. I'm looking forward to listening to it.

1 comment:

Duncan said...

"I'm saving the taxpayer £40 but is this really what I want to be doing to my son on his birthday and missing the meal I would be having with the family?"

He could pay for the ticket himself? MPs earn £65,000 a year. If for whatever personal reason he is unable to take the more economic means of transportation he could use some of his y'know wages to pay for transport. I seem to remember that's how it worked when I was gainfully employed.

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