The role of an MP

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m pretty left wing. I have difficulty imagining any scenario where I would vote Tory. I’d be prepared to have an informed debate on issues of political and economic small-c conservatism, such as limits on government oversight and taxation. But the modern day right wing seem inextricably linked to social conservatism: whose allowed to sleep with whom, what women should be allowed to do with their own bodies etc. And I can’t see myself voluntarily endorsing a bid for power from anyone who genuinely doesn’t see a problem with that.

But maybe I’m doing voting wrong. I have a friend who happily voted for his Conservative MP because she had been so useful to him regarding the errant behaviour of a utility company. He had asked for help from the person duly elected to represent him and his fellow constituents, who was tasked with championing their causes and facilitating their engagement in society, and she had come through. Fair enough I thought. My friend had found someone he felt he could trust and faced with a list of names come the next election he decided to put his faith in the safe pair of hands that he already knew.

I don’t see a list of names. I just see the political parties and make my choice based on their national manifestos. I’ve always seen MPs as representatives of their party, not their constituency. I’ve always though that the majority of the time they are told how to vote by the whips. At this point I will freely admit that everything I know about the whip system is from the first series of House of Cards and The Project. So I’m happy to be corrected on this point. But whether or not my grasp of parliamentary democracy is correct the point still stands that I’ve always cast my vote according to the general principles for which the party stands, and how well they have stuck to said principles whilst in either government or opposition. I’ve never really looked at the individuals standing in an election.

But then I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never faced a situation where I felt asking my MP for help was necessary. So I feel sympathetic towards the abandoned souls of Mid Bedfordshire who have been saddled with Nadine Dorries as an MP. And I rather enjoyed listening to her hapless parliamentary assistant getting ripped to shreds on the JVC programme a few days ago. I’d feel sorry for him, but he did sound like a bit of a smarmy git.

Sodding off to spend a month playing silly-buggers in an Australian Jungle on ITV (sorry, raising the profile of issues you really care about – like what other women can do with their own bodies – see above re social conservatism) whilst parliment is in session shows a callous disregard for the responsibilities of being an MP, however you define it. So I’m not complaining that she has been suspended. However I could do with a bit of clarification as to the exact reason behind it. Has she been suspended because she isn’t helping her constituents in Mid-Bedfordshire, or is it because she’s not helping the Conservative’s win votes in the House of Commons?

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