Cheap MP

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I had occasion to read today’s Sunday Torygraph and came across an article about Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP for Kettering. He is being praised as “Parliament’s cheapest MP” due to his lack of expenses-claiming.

Obviously it is nice to see a story about an MP living frugally, but I can’t help but feel that the article failed to seriously analyse the impact that Hollobone’s cost-cutting has had on his ability to represent his constituents.

Frowning, he produces another stack of papers in which he keeps track of what he is claiming. He is clearly troubled by how he could get the amount down further.

He thinks he may be able to shave a bit off his advertising, and by advertising he doesn’t mean anything fancy. He means the little posters MPs put up around town to tell people how to contact them.

“You see, I’ve got a board at Kettering town football club and that’s £15. I could stop that.”

Yes, you could, Mr Hollobone, but surely you also need to make sure that your constituents realise that you actually exist and that they know how to contact their parliamentary representative?

He deals with all his correspondence himself – so what happens when he goes on holiday? I’d be interested in knowing whether fewer constituents contact him than did the previous MP for Kettering.

This could, of course, be a very clever plan devised by Hollobone. Through maintaining minimal costs he has attracted the attention of the right-wing media who hold him up as a hero, thus ensuring plenty of free positive publicity.

He also finds time to be a councillor in Kettering! Astounding.

Captain Jako

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7 Responses to “Cheap MP”

  1. Paul Says:

    Good points. I also note that the Telegraph’s way of measuring value (attendances, questions in HoC etc) made no reference at all to constituency work undertaken by MPs, and was therefore meaningless, as a measure of ‘all round’ performance.

  2. mrs election Says:

    I didn’t realise you could be both an MP and a councillor. First person to explain the rules allowing this wins a prize!

  3. captainjako Says:

    Are there any rules restricting the number of elected positions someone can have concurrently? Alex Salmond is an MSP and MP. John Prescott spent some years as an MEP at the same time as being an MP. I’d be interested to know if there are any rules. It seems to me that constituents should be asking whether their representative has enough time to do the job properly!

  4. Jako Says:

    Hollobone’s also a special constable! Where does he find the time to do all this?! Also interesting to see that he only became a councillor after being elected as an MP. The usual trend is to jump from councillor to MP, but perhaps Hollobone’s ultimate goal all along was to become a councillor? I wonder what his council attendance is like…

  5. voteredgogreen Says:

    There are no rules: you are debarred from taking a position if you’re a bankrupt, or aren’t registered to vote in the relevant area (the council area for councillors, the UK for MPs); you can’t become an MP if you’re a senior military officer, CofE clergyman, a senior civil servant, or a judge; and you can’t become a councillor if you’re above a certain grade level working for the council.
    But you can hold as many elected positions as you like – Ian Paisley, for example, was an MP, MEP, and MLA at the same time. In France, it’s very common to be mayor of a commune and a member of the Assemblee Nationale. I think Chirac was Mayor of Paris at the same time as he was in the cabinet – could even have been when he was Mitterand’s PM.

  6. Kimmitt Says:

    VRGG is correct. Chirac was the PM at the same time as the Mayor of Paris.

    Is there a record for holding the greatest number of elected offices at any one time?

  7. voteredgogreen Says:

    I know a triple councillor (Parish, City and County) – there must be someone with more, though.

    This may call for another trivia-related blogpost!

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