A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Maybe she shouldn't have been so sniffy about the day job

I generally think Oona King is a good thing, and certainly infinitely preferable to the odious demagogue who displaced her.

The Guardian review of her newly published diary (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/bookshelf/story/0,,2167902,00.html) reveals though a rather sniffy attitude to the pretty vital role of being a backbench MP, complaining:

"My job, from a parliamentary perspective, could not be more dull, repetitive or low-skilled. In fact, the more correct term is unskilled."

Oh dear. Sorry, Oona, most people would regard it as a privilege to be one of the nation's legislators and particularly to be representing and doing casework for a deprived community like Bethnal Green.

If the Commons was such a bore, it might have made sense to spend every spare minute campaigning, as by the time the above quote was written Mr Galloway was a clear and present danger in the constituency.

Not every MP can be a Minister. Maybe selection meetings need to ask prospective MPs if they will enjoy and be able to sustain enthusiasm for the slog of back-benchery and sustaining the party in a marginal seat. If people aren't up for that then maybe they should look to make a political contribution in other ways that are less "dull" or "repetitive".

Possibly the revelation that Oona actually turned down the first PPS job offered her may also explain the lack of subsequent meteoric promotion.

The bulk of the PLP who get on with being good constituency MPs and would be delighted to make it to being a PPS must be seething to have the job they have struggled to acheive dismissed as "dull, repetitive ... unskilled."

My instinct would be we need fewer prima donnas and more grafters.


Anonymous jdc said...

Repetitive and unskilled is pretty much true for a lot of it though. A really good MP can make a real difference, but a backbencher's day does rather seem to be along the lines of

* Go to Parliament and walk through the Lobby the Whip has told you that you need to, however many times proves necessary.
* Sign two covering letters with the photocopy of the letter from the Council explaining why Mrs Miggins can't have a loft conversion. Send one to Mrs Miggins stating that you have asked in detail about her case but regret to inform her nothing can be done. Send another to her neighbour informing them that you took a keen interest in the case and hope they are pleased with the outcome.
* Repeat the above for asylum applications, school appeals and parking fines. Nod politely while a few people come and see you in person to talk about these, since they know MPs have magic queue jumping fairy godmother abilities.
* Meet the Leader of the Local Council to complain that they're not spending enough money, or that they're charging too much council tax, depending on the trend of your postbag. Make it clear that you never increased tax or reconfigured services when you were on the council.
* Open something in your constituency, spending the minimum amount of time necessary for the local paper to photograph you. Take care not to say anything too controversial. Hope fervently that the thing you just opened isn't about to close.

If I'm honest, as a local resident I'd probably rather have a lazy MP who has appointed a really good constituency casework team and parliamentary staff than a really committed MP who has rubbish backup and will get frustrated very quickly.

2:09 pm, September 13, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the long suffering people of Hackney North & Stoke Newington have a lazy MP, with a poor track record of responding to casework, who occasionally employs bright staff who tire of her airs and graces and move on. At Least Oona actually cared about her constituents and tried. Ms Abbott doesn't even bother anymore in her quest to be a media star and earn pots of money.

8:12 pm, September 13, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew people who knew Oona before she was an MP and they detested her as a lightweight with inflated views of her abilities. For a long time I thought they were wrong. But by 2004 it became clear they were right all along.

Oona seems to have been one of those MPs who thinks getting into the Cabinet was all about being loved by the media and smiling a lot.

I detest Galloway though and she was a million times better than that rat.

7:48 am, September 14, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Actually, I think Oona is absolutely right and its your sniffy attitude to her sensible comments which show how out of touch politicos are.

MP's have little to do. So, either they do pointless 'constituency work', acting as sort of powerless local mayors, or they waste time in parliament. Our legislature is FAR too large. Two chambers, more members in both than almost annywhere else - yet still no proper scrutiny!

Oona King told the truth - and thatsa why so many people are now simply looking at the entire game and thinking - forget it!

I'd likle to see the entire 'constituency work' role of MP's removed. They should be there to run the country, and deal solely with national issues, leaving local problems to councillors (who also have nothing to do since the loony changes to a cabinet system)

12:16 am, September 15, 2007

Blogger Kris said...

Speaking of grafters Luke, could someone sort out the toilets in the parks please? Hopefully, this can be done before the 12th of never projected completion date for the Clissold Leisure Centre "repairs".

Pot, Pot, the is Kettle- over.

Disgrace. Even for you. At least Oona King isn't responsible for the daily, yet monumental fuck ups we here in Hackney endure.

7:00 pm, September 16, 2007


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