Letter: MPs should focus on law-making, not on the Voters’ Council


The appalling assassination of Sir David Amess (“Fatal stabbing of Tory MP Amess reignites the debate on the safety of politicians,” Report, 16 October) raises the question of whether the model of the relationship between MPs and their constituents – in especially the role of constituency surgeries – is suited to the goal of a modern democracy.

As a member of Parliament for 30 years, I know how important it is for Members to be available every week to hear the concerns of their constituents face to face. But the connection between MPs and their constituents is an illusion belied by decades of research. The truth is that most constituency files can be handled, not by the MP personally, but by professional social workers acting on behalf of the MP.

It gives members of Parliament time to do the job that only they can do, that of using the national stage to make better laws in the first place.

The government and its apparatchiks will actively oppose this revaluation of the post of deputy, which sets the agenda of the very parliament responsible for “holding them to account” and which pushes members out of Westminster and into the constituency for as many days as possible. possible.

The role of constituency surgeries also increasingly exposes MPs to harm not only seen in the horrific Amess affair, but insidiously through the relentless daily pressure on the mental and physical health of MPs forced to be a lightning rod for government failures they can do nothing about.

A revitalization of the underutilized asset of the MP we elect is vital as the global battles over climate, social media and between autocracy and democracy begin in earnest.

I discovered that the vast majority of MPs from all parties were dedicated and hardworking servants of their constituents and their country. All they need is – in the words of John Smith, the former Labor leader – ‘a chance to serve’.

Graham allen
Member of Parliament for Nottingham North 1987-2017
Chairman, Special Commission on Political and Constitutional Reform 2010-2015
London SW1, United Kingdom

Letter in response to this letter:

Parkinson’s law brings increasing workload for MPs / By Andy Thompson, Worcester Park, Surrey, UK


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