'Jack of all trades: How can MPs fulfil all their roles?'

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At an event organised by the Hansard Society, a UK based political research and education charity, MPs spoke about what their role entails and the challenges the face in fulfilling their role.  It is striking to note the similarity between what our Parliamentarians have to share about the challenges they face in their roles as representative of the people and what the UK MPs have shared.

  • Management of their diary i.e. Time Management and prioritizing issues are important to the MP being able to do justice to his various roles
  • The MPs stated that the constituency expects action from them on issues which fall within the purview of the local Government and should have been taken up with the councillor. These could be issues related to public works, schools and the like.
  • Quite often the local councillor is unknown to the population and since the MP is easily recognizable, local issues are taken up with him. The MP is obliged to take up the issue because he cannot be seen to turn anyone away.
  • People assume that if you are not seen on the streets you aren't doing your job. Therefore constituency visits are deemed important and end up taking quite a bit of time, which could have been otherwise devoted to legislative work.
  • MPs with a thin majority tend to focus more on local issues for fear of not being able to retain their seat. They tend to try that much harder to address local issues, even with the knowledge that it is not their primary responsibility.
  • Some MPs felt that the committee work should be of foremost priority instead of just an additional responsibility for the MP, as it is at the committee level that all aspects of the legislation can be examined and worked on in detail.
  • MPs should be encouraged to specialize in subjects so that they develop their knowledge in there area of interest.

In general, there are three views the MP has to balance: The Party's, The Constituency's and his or her Personal views. For example the debate on Wind Farms for renewable energy which spoil the landscape, or immigration. These are subjects where the three views may be vary greatly from each other and the MP has to balance each of these. Ultimately, loyalty to party is a must, since the MP won on the party’s ticket, so the MP owes his/her allegiance to the Party and should endorse the Party’s views.