The Role of an MP

December 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm (Politics)

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WITH AN average of 67,000 people to represent on a daily basis, the job of a British Member of Parliament (MP) is an immense task. Every politician that takes on the role will tell you that no 24 hours is the same in the life of an MP, so what is it that makes such a vital occupation so unpredictable?

Putney’s Conservative MP, Justine Greening, described how she decides as the day develops what the most effective way to divide her time between Westminster and her constituency will be. Her day usually begins with surgeries where constituents come to her with problems such as immigration and transport issues, some of which may require urgent attention. “You have to gauge what is most important and balance that with all the other day-to-day practicalities that must be carried out as well as acting as a figurehead for the local area.”

Greening won her seat in 2005 and was appointed Shadow Minister for the Treasury in July, 2007. She is the Conservative’s youngest female MP but doesn’t see this as an obstacle. “Once someone has won a seat through public vote, you immediately gain the respect of the established MPs.”

Greening must spend significant time in Westminster participating in debates and voting on legislation, but she said she “focuses on working with residents to make sure views are listened to and acted upon.” If a constituent presents an issue that conflicts with party policy she said: “I have to decide what is in the best interest of the constituency. Whatever the situation, I maintain contact with the person involved and explain if and how the problem can be dealt with.”

Greening must also be aware of her Labour opposition candidate, Stuart King, who is rallying support since the loss of the Labour seat in 2005.

Mr. King spoke of three main tasks facing a candidate MP: “As leader, I have the role of a motivator and must ensure people become and remain active. Furthermore, I am the principal spokesman and figurehead for the party and must always be available for the public and media,” he said.

“The crucial part of my job is getting out there, visiting constituents and promoting campaign objectives. The most difficult part of the job is finding time to implement ideas and campaign objectives, while fulfilling a full time job,” he said. “The luxury an MP has is that they can dedicate themselves fully to their constituents, whereas the candidate has such a small time frame to work with.”

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