NEW MPs soon discover that their hobbies are strangely interesting to others.
It’s not unusual that a man in his forties might enjoy a game of football, or pool, or play guitar in a group with a few work colleagues.
For MPs, however, it produces at least 3 reactions; outrage from the killjoys, mockery in the press and pleasure from those who also enjoy the pastime or occupation.
You can make the greatest speech since Hamlet and be ignored.
But if you show the slightest sign of a normal human interest, coverage is guaranteed.
There’s no point in complaining.
The best response is to use that interest positively to promote issues, and raise a few quid for good causes.
So you might hear about MP4, our parliamentary rock group.
We played to 800 people at a Macmillan Cancer Charity concert recently, which raised £30,000 in ticket sales alone.
You might also hear us raising music industry issues like illegal internet downloading of music.
It seems a victimless crime, but it robs musicians of their livelihood, and starves the industry of funds to develop new talent.
Last year CD single sales fell by 30%.
In the end that will translate into job losses.
One unexpected side effect of the formation of MP4 was an invitation for us to watch The BRIT awards.
Unlike John Prescott we weren’t doused with iced water, but watching Alicia Keys, The Darkness, Beyonce, Busted and Duran Duran perform, led me to think about which songs the Party leaders would sing.
Liberal leader Charles Kennedy might do “Stuck in the middle with you”.
With his Dracula credentials Michael Howard could do “Bat out of Hell” by Meatloaf.
And for Tony Blair a new version of BRIT winners The Darkness’ hit, “I Believe in a Thing Called WMD”.