Finding your feet

BEING a new MP has been compared to starting secondary school, but at least no one gets their head shoved down the toilets these days.

When I started in 2001 you were advised to turn up with your election leaflets to hand out to the Commons police so they would recognise you.

Those innocent days were obliterated by September 11th.
Now the police have a booklet with everyone’s photo before they arrive.

In the old days new members could expect little advice or sympathy.
One MP arrived in 1997 and asked the Whips for help to find somewhere to stay in London.
He was given a copy of the telephone directory.
If new MPs were clever enough to get elected they were clever enough to find their own way around.

The 2005 intake aren’t prepared to put up with the deprivations of the past, like months of waiting for an office.

The demands of the job have changed.
Not only can they expect to deal with hundreds of letters from day one, but now they can expect thousands of e-mails.

It’s all a long way from the days when Megan Lloyd George would visit her constituency Anglesey once a year.
Children were given a day off school to greet her with flowers.

Modern MPs are expected to be instantly accessible and respond promptly to every communication.
That wasn’t the case when Aneurin Bevan advised his wife Jennie Lee to ignore letters from constituents.

He wanted to be a national politician not a social worker.

All that has changed and it’s for the good, but may not feel like it to the new MPs I’ve watched this week with no staff, no office, and more mail dumped on them on day one than they can carry.