Following the row over George Osborne’s “sixth job” I thought it would be interesting to check out how his several jobs impact on his attendance at parliament.
It’s surprising to many that there is no actual parliamentary rule that requires an MP to attend parliament. This is left entirely to the parties that they represent to enforce. If an MP in a safe seat chooses to only attend parliament once a year then it’s up to the Party, in George’s case the Tory Party, to bring that MP to account.
There’s also no way of checking whether an MP has actually attended parliament beyond looking at their voting, debate, and written questions records, which again will surprise some people.
In George Osborne’s case his parliamentary record stands at:
Votes Attended: 163 out of 454
Written Answers: 0
A pretty sorry record, and one he’ll struggle to defend with a new constituency when his seat goes under the Boundary Review.
Having looked at the record of our former Chancellor, I thought it would be interesting to compere this with MPs that represent the county in which I live, Staffordshire.
I included Tristram Hunt in this as the MP that served for the majority of the Parliament so far, rather than current Stoke Central MP Gareth Snell, who has been in the job around five minutes.
The figures make interesting reading. The “busiest” MP in Staffordshire appears to be Tory Christopher Pincher based solely on his voting record, and, as you would expect Tristram Hunt comes bottom having resigned his seat.
But combine the values of the three areas, and a different picture emerges, though sadly not a positive one for Labour. This can be seen in the chart below.
Despite a lower voting record than Pincher, Jeremy Lefroy comes out on top, with Michael Fabricant a close second by stint of debates attended and questions asked. Bottom of the pile is Labour’s Paul Farrelly with former MP Tristram Hunt, only just above him. As Hunt resigned parliament in January this was rather surprising. The two other Labour MP’s bring up the rear and then it’s a gradual incline of Tories who fill the top eight spaces of the twelve MPs.
Naturally this doesn’t tell the whole story. MPs have a range of parliamentary and party activities they undertake on top of the activities recorded here. Many sit on parliamentary committees for example.
But arguably, these figures are a pointer to a wider picture, and when it comes to headlines during the next election, or as MPs start seeking a seat following the boundary review, it’s these figures that people will focus on, particularly in seats with very low majorities such as Paul Farrelly’s Newcastle under Lyme.
As a party, nationally and locally, Labour really can’t afford to allow any area that leaves itself open to accusations of not representing the electorate, especially as we move into an uncertain future post Brexit.
As Labour members and activists it’s clear we should be pushing the Labour Party to expect more from our MPs. This is especially true here in Staffordshire, as the figures above make for some grim reading so far.
During the next election, we’ll be defending these figures on the doorstep in areas that will take some defending, and so the message to our MPs must be clear from this point forward. Raise your game, and please give us something to work with, because we may stand or fall on your record in parliament.