The Usefulness (or not) of Members of Parliament…

 

A heathy democracy depends on MP’s being accessible to their constituents and to be fair both of the Conservative MP’s who have represented me in Surrey and Monmouthshire, despite the fact I have never voted for them, have corresponded with me over the years.

philip hammond

Let’s take the current chancellor the Right Honourable Philip Hammond MP for Runneymede and Weybridge as an example.

When Debbie and I moved to Thorpe village in Runneymede we were ecstatic to move to a large four bedroom detached home called Kent House in what could only be described as a quasi-countryside retreat on the outskirts of Staines and Chertsey.  We fell in love with the chocolate box cottages, Frank Muir’s field and overlooked its proximity to the M25/M3 motorways and the Heathrow flightpath.

Of course this meant it was very convenient for me for work as it was only a 3 mile drive to Egham where Gartner’s European HQ was based in the Glanty and on my frequent trips necessitating taking a flight meant that I could get home on my return quickly.  Alas the latter advantage was somewhat diluted due to constant delays from congestion at the airport and the noise and air pollution.

The first issue I contacted “Philip” about was over Surrey County Council’s inability to take seriously a fire risk to Kent House due to several conifers growing on a strip of land they owned adjacent to my double length attached garage.  The gutters were completely full of detritus from the trees which overhung the garage roof with their branches.

Surrey CC was liable but replied to my letters of complaint with the response “they had no budget available” for such redial work that financial year even though they owned the strip of land and were responsible for its upkeep!

A strongly worded email to my MP cc the council seemed to work a treat and in the first instance they came and lopped down about 8 conifers down to stump level and the following year actually removed the stumps and landscaped the strip.  Result!

My next interaction with Philip came with the government announcement that Heathrow expansion was going to be decided imminently despite protestations by local people including those he was supposed to represent.  I sent him an email saying how much pollution had increased since we’d moved to Thorpe as the airport traffic had increased so much.

Alas in reply this time I got a weaselly worded reply that “he had made his views clear over many years and that he also had to think about the national interest”.  Translated that mean he wanted the Chancellor’s job, a position he achieved soon afterwards… Ho hum!

david davies

Escaping to Wales I thought little about my new local MP David Davies until history repeated itself when Monmouthshire County Council launched a “consultation” to impose charges on the free car park in Abergavenny used by dog walkers in Castle Meadows (including yours truly most days) and of course by the workers in the town’s shops and offices none of whom are paid a fortune.

The consultation involved writing to the council’s Chief Operating Officer who’s primary responsibility I translated to “Chief Revenue Officer” so I made my objections by email copying my MP!  I noticed that he then responded back to the COO cc myself insisting that my views along with many others be taken seriously.

Subsequently and much to my amazement all plans were dropped and the status quo maintained.  Result!

Sadly the following events confirmed to me that indeed “history does repeat itself” when I grew frustrated after giving the Conservatives the benefit of the doubt at the local government elections by voting for the for them for first time ever in my 58 years…

What caused my angst was the Conservative party manifesto on social care costs aka “the dementia tax” being introduced along with means testing pensioner benefits.  Added to this was the increases in Student loan principals and interest rates coming in for the new academic year and the continued funding through government debt of the foreign aid budget.

An email duly was sent with the following weaselly reply “that all political parties supported the continuation of the 0.7% GDP commitment to foreign aid even if this would not be a personal priority for myself”.

Then my concerns over yesterday’s announcement of the increase by a year for young people to receive the state pension on the last day of Parliament before the summer recess (no doubt to bury bad news)  was responded today with the fact “that I am affected too and the country can’t afford the status quo” although I had to point out in reply that he wouldn’t be affected due to the MP final salary pension scheme being one of the most generous in the UK…  Ho hum!

So in summary, if you want to use your MP to attack unfair decisions being made by your local council go ahead, you’ll likely be well rewarded.  🙂

If you want them to fight for you on a national cause – forget it! 😦

Power to the people!

 

 

 

The Usefulness (or not) of Members of Parliament…

Fair Weather Comrades

I guess I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the underdog.

For a long time I was a fanatic supporter of Manchester City Football Club in their lean period in the early 70’s, post the Francis Lee, Colin Bell & Mike Summerbee glory days.  Unfortunately I lost interest in following them just before they hit the big time again after securing huge foreign investment!

Next, as a political virgin, I joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981 when the “Gang of Four” MPs Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers & Shirley Williams split from Labour. This new political party eventually merged with the Liberals in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats and essentially disappeared.

So true to form, as evidenced in a previous post, when Jeremy Corbyn entered the leadership race for Labour, post the disastrous 2015 general election results, I joined their swelling ranks & in recognition of the rebel in me as well as my respect for his sincerity & voted for him along with about 60% of the party…

Then along came the unexpected recent “Brexit” result and his erstwhile colleagues took the opportunity to blame him for the result, despite the fact that the majority of Labour voters went for “Remain” & he supported it to a greater visible extent than the Conservative Theresa May who’s currently looking to be hot favourite to become Prime Minister after Cameron.

One of my mantras while working was always to be kind to people on the way up, as you never knew who you might meet on the inevitable climb down the corporate ladder!  Mark my words Mr. Gove…  Another was you remember who your friends are when things aren’t going so well, with “fair weather friends” being a particular anathema to me as a result.

In fact whenever any of my clients fell on hard times I remembered being unemployed for five months back in 2000 and gave them as much support as I could with the result many became good friends.

Today I’m getting pretty disillusioned again with party politics, so won’t be renewing my Labour membership, but those MPs ignoring the wider membership (on both sides of the political divide) I believe should be wary of constituency re-selection challenges if there is to be a true democracy in the UK!

More tea & biscuits comrade?

🙂

Fair Weather Comrades