Gransnet forums

What makes a good M.P?

(16 Posts)
Ilovecheese Mon 28-Jan-19 13:16:08

On another thread there was talk about changing the way that political representatives are chosen to stand as M.P.s.
I thought it might be interesting to see what people think are the qualities and experience that make a person a good choice to stand as a potential M.P.

So shall we take an imaginary constituency and an imaginary political party and think who we would choose to stand?

Candidate A:
Was born and brought up in the local area. Worked in his small family business and has been a local councillor. Feels passionate about local issues. Fracking has been suggested for this area, local people are against it so A will oppose fracking vigorously in the commons.

Candidate B:
Studied politics an university and has worked at Westminster since getting his degree. Understands the system and the customs in parliament and knows how to make allies. B thinks fracking is neccessary for the country's energy policy and that he should put the interests of the whole country above those of his particular constituents.

Candidate C:
A gold medal winning Olympic athlete who is coming to the end of his career and would like to enter politics. No views on fracking but feels strongly about exercise for young people to improve their health and well being. Because of C's high profile sports career, they are very well known and are likely to get more votes than any of the other candidates.

Candidate D:
has worked tirelessly for the local party for over two decades, canvassing, delivering leaflets, giving lifts to the polling station etc. C is desperate to run as a candidate and would have the energetic support of the local party.

Who should be chosen? Are there any other candidates who should be given a chance?

Nonnie Mon 28-Jan-19 13:37:01

Assuming they are all in the same party (because I usually vote for the party in general elections) I think it would probably not depend on any of the above. I would want to know what sort of person they were. Thinking of my MP, of whom I am not a fan, I would welcome someone who listened to their constituents and answered their questions rather than fudging the issue. It would also be important to me that they listened to all their constituents and not just the ones who voted for them.

EllanVannin Mon 28-Jan-19 15:19:30

To see your local MP regularly and not just before a GE or even a local one.

M0nica Mon 28-Jan-19 15:30:58

I wouldn't want to choose any of them with out far more information about them as individuals.

Based on my MP I would quite like one that responded to emails from constituents.

varian Mon 28-Jan-19 15:36:49

Different parties no doubt have different methods of selecting candidates. The Liberal Democrat candidates have to go through a very strict process.

Firstly they must be approved as potential candidates at the national level. This involves demonstrating their beliefs and ensuring that their principles are in line with the core beliefs of the party, showing a knowledge of party policy and checking that their is nothing in their background which could bring the party into disrepute.

The next stage is for the constituency party to advertise a vacancy for a candidate within the Party. Only those who have already been approved at the national level, or whose approval is pending, may apply.

The constituency party will convene a shortlisting panel, made up of party members of good standing who have gone through shortlisting training. The panel, usually of 5-7 members, should represent different parts of the constituency, and include men and women of different ages and backgrounds. In advance of the interviews the panel members receive detailed information about the candidates, including replies to a questionnaire and their own statement setting out their case. The applicants are then interviewed by the panel, each for perhaps 30-40 minutes, and this meeting is observed by a returning officer from another constituency. Each candidate is asked the same questions by the panel members and there may be supplementary questions. Each member of the panel grades the candidates according to strict criteria and the returning officer collates the results. The shortlist is usually the 3,4 or 5 best candidates.

The final stage involves sending out information about the shortlisted candidates to each party member in the constituency (perhaps 300-400 people). The candidates each supply their own manifesto and there are strict rules about fairness. They may visit members, phone them and canvas support. The final decision is made by all the members at a hustings where each candidate speaks for the same amount of time (not in the presence of the others) and finally all appear on the platform together and answer questions. The members then take part in a secret AV ballot, giving their choices as 1, 2, 3.... Members who do not attend the hustings have the chance to vote in advance by post.

In the example the OP gives, it is quite possible that all these candidates could be shortlisted and the members would make the decision. It is not always easy as you may think one candidate would stand a better chance of being elected, another was more deserving and another would make the best MP. We certainly don't always get it right but the process is as fair and democratic as we can make it.

Ilovecheese Mon 28-Jan-19 15:53:08

Interesting opinions with listening to constituents being of most importance so far.
I was envisaging the candidates as all being shortlisted. it must be a very difficult decision because, like varian says, one might get more votes but end up being a worse M.P. But then, if no candidate gets enough votes in an election, then no candidate gets to be an M.P.

grannypauline Mon 28-Jan-19 16:02:15

I stood for parliament in 2014. I stood on the TUSC anti-austerity programme (short!! version below) and not as an individual. I have to say I didn't get many votes but I still believe the policies are correct

Stop all privatisation re-nationalise all rail, bus and ferry services, Royal Mail, and prisons, probation, and all other parts of the justice system

For a high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.

Stop council estate sell-offs and build high-standard, eco-friendly, affordable council housing.

No to academies and 'free schools'. Good, free education for all, under democratic local authority control; student grants not fees.

Bring banks and finance institutions into genuine public ownership under democratic control, instead of giving huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis. Progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals and an end to tax avoidance.

Repeal the anti-trade union laws, reverse attacks on facility time and the right to collect subs by check-off for trade unions. Support the TUC's demand to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour (this figure is under discussion!!)

Scrap zero hour contracts. Invest to create and protect jobs, including for young people.

Solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions. Reinstate full trade union rights to prison officers.

Invest in publicly-owned and controlled renewable energy. Oppose fracking. Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry and farming - stop the pollution that is destroying our environment. No to profit-driven GM technology.

Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.

Abolish the bedroom tax.Reverse cuts to benefits; for living benefits; end child poverty. Scrap benefit sanctions.

Restore the pre-Thatcher real value of pensions. Reverse the increases imposed on the state retirement age, creating jobs for younger people.

Promote inclusive policies to enable disabled people to participate in, and have equal access to, education, employment, housing, transport and welfare provision. Equal pay for equal work.

Welcome diversity and oppose racism, fascism and discrimination. Defend the right to asylum, repeal the 2014 Immigration Act and all racist immigration controls.

Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay.

Full equality for LGBT people.

Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable.

For the right to vote at 16.

No to imperialist wars and occupations! Justice for the Palestinians, lift the siege of Gaza, recognise the state of Palestine. No more spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons, huge aircraft carriers or irrelevant eurofighters - convert arms spending into socially useful products and services.

An independent foreign policy, based on international solidarity - no more being a US poodle, no moves towards a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe.

MPs to be subject to right of recall by their constituency and to receive only the average pay (plus legitimate expenses).

For a democratic socialist society run in the interests of people not millionaires. For bringing into democratic public ownership the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment.

winterwhite Mon 28-Jan-19 16:03:09

If the seat is at all marginal it must partly depend on who has the best chance of defeating the main opponent. If the seat is a safe one I would go for the one likely to have the most to contribute at Westminster while also running an efficient constituency office so that correspondence and minor matters can be dealt with promptly by local workers..

PECS Mon 28-Jan-19 16:24:12

I want my MP to listen to local constituents and to to have a strong enough character / conviction to vote against party lines if that represents the strength of local constituents views. I would expect her to be as visible as possible locally but also attend HoP debates and to speak!

grannypauline Tue 29-Jan-19 12:36:29

I did a long post because I believe it's the policies that are important. For this thread probably the crux is:
MPs to be subject to right of recall by their constituency and to receive only the average pay (plus legitimate expenses).

Having said that, it's important that Corbyn wins and we start to undo all the horrors of the present regime. So I will be voting for the Labour Party this time around.

POGS Tue 29-Jan-19 14:50:23

PECS

" I don'twant my MP to listen to local constituents and to to have a strong enough character / conviction to vote against party lines if that represents the strength of local constituents views. I would expect her to be as visible as possible locally but also attend HoP debates and to speak!"
--

Forgive me but do you mean you ' do ' want your MP to listen to local constituents not ' don't '?

If the answer is you ' do ' how does that work for MP's whos constituencies voted Leave or Remain and their MP is using his/her conviction to go against their constituents wishes?

Then there are the MP's from both Leave Remain constituencies who are going to vote against their constituents wishes because of the a 3 line whip telling them how to vote as will happen in Parliament today

Oldwoman70 Tue 29-Jan-19 15:02:19

I want an MP who listens to the constituents, is available to them and remembers who they are in parliament to serve.

My local MP was a minister in a high profile job, I emailed about a problem I had, I received a reply within 24 hours, presumably from an assistant but within 7 days I received a personal reply from my MP giving details of who he had approached and what was being done about my problem. On another occasion I was involved in a local charity, he showed up at an event we organised, the only publicity he received was when we sent photos to the local newspaper.

If he stands at the next election he will get my vote again.

Ilovecheese Tue 29-Jan-19 16:32:25

No need to say which party your M.P. belongs to Oldwoman70 but can I just ask you if you voted for him or his party last time, or has his response to your problem meant that you have changed your allegiance?

Oldwoman70 Tue 29-Jan-19 18:46:59

Yes I did because he had previously quietly supported the charity and everyone who met him were impressed by his genuine concern. I know many MPs support charities but so many of them seem to do so in the full glare of publicity.

PECS Tue 29-Jan-19 22:55:15

POGS yes I did mean "I do want" blush fat fingers or bad cut & paste..sorry!

My MP was a remainer, as were the majority of his constituents but he has gone to the dark side ..think he has his eye on the main chance!

grumppa Tue 29-Jan-19 23:52:30

Going back to the OP, I would want to know something about the seat: is it marginal or one with an unassailable majority? In other words, am I looking to reward or encourage someone who has no chance of winning whatever their qualities, or who cannot possibly lose, or am I looking for someone who might swing vital votes?