Report by Marco Douglas
The job of an MP is believed be very time consuming as outlined by the Guardian in 2011 by a report from the Hansard Society which found that an average working week of an MP can be “69 hours”. This time is split between Westminster and the member’s constituency, while in Westminster, members participate in Prime Ministers Questions and work in their offices. They will also carry out constituency work and hold ‘surgeries’ in which they listen to the concerns of their constituents and try to help them by raising the issue when they are back in London.
It would seem the job of an MP is a full-time occupation. However, the announcement this week of former Chancellor George Osbourne being appointed as the new editor of the London Evening Standard brings that assumption into question.
In places like Auchterarder and the surrounding area, a full-time job would be your main priority and take up most of your time. It would certainly be the case if you were working a 69-hour week in which you may have to travel vast distances such as Mr Osbourne who is the MP for Tatton in Cheshire. Furthermore, on top of all that responsibility, Mr Osbourne may need to stay in London to edit one of the city’s biggest paper’s. Will this new job in London mean that the MP is spending more time in the nation’s capital and less time in his Cheshire constituency and away from the concerns of his constituents?
It seems that even two full time jobs are not enough for Mr Osbourne whose list of current occupations does not stop there. In addition to being an MP and a newspaper editor: he is an adviser at Blackrock which is described by the Guardian as “the world’s biggest fund manager”. Mr Osbourne has also accepted a post at the Washington Speakers Bureau which according to the Telegraph saw the former chancellor “delivering a number of speeches in America” for groups and companies such as “Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)”. In addition, the Ex Chancellor had become a fellow at the McCain institute which has been set up by US Senator John McCain and per the Guardian, the MP for Tatton “has become the first Kissinger Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership”. The last occupation held by the former Chancellor is that of Chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership described as “business and local politicians to commission research, share ideas, and lobby Whitehall”. The Northern MP is quoted by the guardian saying “Chairing this new partnership will now be a major focus of my political energies. The northern powerhouse is here to stay.”
It can be said by looking at the former Chancellors new occupations that he is exploring new work opportunities. But the Hansard Society and findings that indicate an average 69-hour week for an MP in addition to his five other occupations could give the impression that the former chancellor could possibly be biting off more than he can chew. The people of Tatton like the rest of the UK voted for an MP that would serve them and listen to their concerns and raise them on the national stage at Westminster. Mr Osbourne and his range of new jobs means he is now in constant employment. Could it be the case that by dividing his time between six different jobs he may have to cut time from his constituency work? Would this be fair for the people of Tatton? They voted for an MP that would carry their interests to Westminster.
We cannot be sure it is only Mr Osbourne that has other jobs as well as being an MP? It could be possible that other MPs are in the same position as the member for Tatton and the public have been in the dark.
The people of Ochil and South Perthshire elected Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh as their MP to represent them. Would it be the case if Ms Sheikh had other employment while being an MP, that the interests of her constituents would suffer? Would her constituents still believe she was acting in their interests if she was working elsewhere?
MPs are employed to represent their constituents. Is it not the case that if they involve themselves in other employment such as George Osbourne that the representation will be less than optimal? Can an MP still represent the electorate when their time is taken with other jobs? Can it still mean that an elected MP prioritises their constituents when they have less time to devote to them?