MPs in constituencies

 

Visiting the constituency was once an annual affair for some MPs. It was possible to pass nearly all problems to local councillors.  But with the intense media scrutiny and public disenchantment with politicians, MPs’ relationships with their constituents have changed out of all recognition. One  constituency office accumulated over 9,500 cases on the database between 2005 and last month; and a constituent emailed his MP at 2 am asking for help and again at 6 am saying, “why haven’t you answered yet?”

Commons Theatre

 

MPs have to face the terror of performing in the chamber. George Bentinck did not speak in debate for two decades in the nineteenth century. These days silence is inconceivable. All MPs feel obliged to express the opinions both of their constituents and their party, and even sometimes their own, and to do so regularly and, if possible, dazzlingly.

John Thurso (MP) told me, “the HoC chamber is a bear-pit. When discussing the big issues, and at PMQs[1], it is like a storm, a great crash on the rocks. No other forum delivers so much adrenalin and demands so much nerve[2].” The gladiatorial battles – between The Chancellor and his Shadow last Tuesday, for example – demands from each command of their own policy and detail of their opponents’ failures. 

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