The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
After the storm
Posted Thursday, 13 August 2009 at 11:14

Although on holiday in rural Spain and with no access to a computer, I have, via phone calls from journalists, become aware of the kind of summer some of my colleagues are having, or not, as the case may be.

Apparently Alan Duncan is reported to have been filmed having a private conversation, during which he said that MPs are treated like s**t, and has been taken apart by the media.

I smile to myself each time I answer the phone to a newspaper asking to 'have a chat' or ‘talk something through' - as was the case with Toby Helm from the Guardian the other evening as I walked to a seaside restaurant.

These same newspapers are the ones who ridicule and misrepresent the purpose of the Parliamentary recess and paint a picture of MPs taking a three month holiday, which each and every journalist knows simply isn't true.

Although I readily admit to trying to holiday in August, my phone is never switched off and not one day goes past without some part of the day being assigned to work.

I doubt I gave Toby much to quote me on, as with all such 'off the cuff' interviews, my best thoughts came after I had spent five minutes quietly thinking about the points he had raised.

We talked about how a new Parliament is going to look in the aftermath of 'expense gate' and what type of people will become MPs.

Since the day the expenses issue broke, I have held the view that the long term result would be bad for democracy. However, following news regarding the way Alan has been reported, I didn't think it was going to become as bad as it may.

We are on the brink of an historic shift in the way Parliament operates, and the type of person who becomes an MP.

Existing MPs no longer trust the media, in any way. Following the disclosure of Alan's private conversation, they may no longer trust individuals.

The new pernicious rule for MPs to declare hours spent on outside interests will prevent the multi-skilled, clever, articulate, learned individuals who are, by their own obvious track record of achievement, the type of people Parliament desperately needs to attract and retain - from even considering a life as an MP.

Instead we will see the emergence of a new breed of MP: those who will enter Parliament because they are rich, or careerist.

We will witness the opening of a chasm between the electorate and those who legislate.

Everyone will be a loser. The very people Parliament is elected to represent will be as remote from the centre as they have ever been at any time before.

The synergy and commonality between the elected and the governed will be non existent.

The doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women, farmers and academics and all manner of specialists, who interact with life and people outside of Parliament on a daily basis, will no longer bring their worldly experience or legislative know-how to bear when legislation is debated in the House of Commons.

We already have an example of this. There is a reason why many Labour MPs today are ineffective. Many have risen via the career route of the trade unions with little or no experience of the outside world, and it shows; never more so as when they stand and read from pre-prepared notes.

I readily admit to this being a sweeping statement, however, almost every debate of importance in the chamber is lifted to a new level when the type of individuals I have listed above rise to their feet to speak, always without notes, usually loaded with precise facts and undoubtedly with the confidence a life outside Parliament has imbued into the essence of who they are, before they got to Westminster.

The Commons is going to become the dullest place.

Debates will become sterile, and as a result of a creeping ineptitude amongst the new breed of MPs, the civil servants will advance the cause of administrative governance and legislate by the book.

Over time, the Whitehall Mandarin will rise, both in influence and power, resulting in almost ultimate control.

Opportunity for the voice of the individual voter to be heard will become almost extinct.

Maybe I'm a tad out of touch. Maybe the need for the 'commoner' to have a right to have their voice heard in Parliament was an issue of the past and maybe I am just too old fashioned. People may not be bothered about the fact that the mother of all Parliaments will be run by administrators and the wealthy, the majority of whom will relate to very few people outside of Westminster’s walls.

Maybe this is the new politics: MPs to function in name only, the role symbolic, rather than essential.

Whatever the future for democracy is, it’s far from bright, and it’s depressing.

As dedicated knowledgeable MPs flee Westminster they will leave behind those who will simply go to ground, mistrust the media and now, as a result of yesterday, mistrust individuals and pull down the Portcullis.

Parliament is about to move into reverse gear, by about 200 years.

 
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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