Five ways to see if your MP provides value for money

Published in The Huffington Post on 11th July, 2013.

The issue of how much we should pay our elected representatives is again causing debate and outrage. Having worked in Parliament, I have seen firsthand that many MPs work incredibly hard, are committed to improving the lives of their constituents and are involved in politics for the right reasons (Steve Rotheram immediately springs to mind).

That said, I have also come across too many MPs who have only minimal interaction with their constituency and who are lazy, arrogant and vastly unfit for office. Some MPs in safe seats – those that are unlikely to ever lose an election because the support for their party outstrips the opposition – simply do not need to put the hours in because they know they have a job for life.

The appropriateness of giving MPs a £6000 pay rise at a time of economic stagnation and when a lot of people, especially those in the public sector, are really suffering, will understandably dominate the headlines.

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The clocks have gone back. It’s now 1990

Published in The Huffington Post on Sunday, 30th October, 2011.

As we enter November and leave British Summer Time behind, we reach the 21st anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation as prime minister. Despite the melodrama of more recent political events, it is hard to imagine what Westminster must have been like in the three weeks between Geoffrey Howe quitting the cabinet and Thatcher being forced from office. Or is it?

The issue of Britain’s place within Europe was dominating the political agenda. An unpopular prime minister had suffered a damaging rebellion from her own party. The Tories were trailing in the polls. The economy was inching towards a recession. And a high profile member of the cabinet had just resigned.

Far from being unique, this has an eerily familiar feel.

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Ed Miliband needs to address Labour’s talent deficit and add steel to the Shadow Cabinet

What's ahead for Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet?

Since the last General Election many of the heavy weights that dominated the New Labour political landscape have left the frontline of British politics. David Miliband, Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson, Jack Straw and of course Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown all stood down from Ministerial positions. This exodus followed the departure of people like John Prescott and John Reid who stood down when Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister in 2007. This provided a welcome opportunity for new blood to come through – but it also intensified a talent deficit that is apparent right across Westminster as Labour lost a great deal of its front bench talent and institutional memory. The sheer dominance of Blair and Brown over the last twenty years has stifled the development of top class politicians. As a result, Ed Miliband’s Cabinet over the last twelve months has had a mixed record and has been relatively lacklustre in holding the Conservative government to account.

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Will social media networks come back to haunt tomorrow’s politicians?

Throughout modern history innovations in the way that we communicate with each other have had a profound impact on the political landscape. The emergence of the print media, the telegram, radio and television have all revolutionised the way that politicians operate. Today the internet and twenty-four hour news organisations mean they must always stay on message and never switch off. This is in stark contrast to previous eras. In a time before the majority of households owned a television, Labour Prime Minister Clement Atlee was asked by journalists if he had anything to say to the nation as he returned from a foreign trip. As he stood on the runway his response was a stern “no.” Imagine the reaction if this had come from David Cameron or Tony Blair. Atlee was a pre-eminent figure of the twentieth century but sad fact is that he would not have stood a chance today.

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Odds shorten on an early election

Difficult days for the Prime Minister

The events of the last 72 hours have been truly remarkable. The exposure of a corrupt culture at the heart of the British media; the perverse and systematic intrusion by Fleet Street into the lives of people affected by tragedy; the closure of the world’s biggest selling English-language newspaper; and the arrest of the Prime Minister’s right hand man for the past five years. All are astounding developments in and of themselves. However, combined they are producing the biggest political story for a generation that is starting to put the coalition government’s long term future in serious doubt.

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Ask your MP to support EDM 1846 on slavery and human trafficking

Anti-Slavery International logo – the oldest human rights organisation in the world

Up to 30 million people around the world are enslaved today – including around 9000 people in the United Kingdon. If you would like your Member of Parliament to support an Early Day Motion on the issue of slavery and human trafficking, please write and ask them to sign the Motion. I’ve written a short letter below that you can use to email your MP.

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Slavery event in Parliament with Harriet Harman MP and Aidan McQuade

Harriet Harman MP addressing MPs and Peers on the issue of slavery and human trafficking

On Tuesday I organised an event in Parliament that sought to draw attention to the fact that up to 30 million people around the world are enslaved – including thousands within Britain. This means more slaves exist today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Below is an extract from the press release:

Mark Hendrick MP hosted an event in Parliament on Tuesday that celebrated the achievements of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and discussed contemporary slavery and human trafficking. Guest speakers included Harriet Harman MP and the Director of Anti-Slavery International, Aidan McQuade.

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