Thursday, 26 November 2009

MPs R Us: visiting Parliament reveals a very human mix of personalities and behaviours

We’ve seen the headlines, read the comment threads, heard the conversations in the pubs and over the dinner table: MPs are not like us, they are not good people.

A quick Google search for the phrase ‘MPs are Scum’ gives 137,000 results.

A similar search using the word ‘Vermin’ returns 40,900, the C-word gets 25,000 and ‘MPs are Bastards’ tops them all with 183,000. Admittedly, sometimes it is the odd MP calling other people scum but most of the time the abuse is aimed firmly their way.

Here’s one that stands out:

“These MPs are scum. They are thieves. Their avarice, their grasping mendacious filthy peculation of public funds, their troughing porcine deception, their self-serving self-righteous....”

There’s more but you get the picture.

Intrigued, as we all are by evil and nastiness, this week I ventured into the Commons to meet five of these ‘troughing scum’ and here’s what I found:

-An MP who was obviously so tired he was struggling to keep his eyes open but who still managed to chair a meeting and to ask some intelligent questions .

-A genuinely warm and open young MP who was quieter than usual and who seemed pre-occupied at the meeting. She later tweeted that she was ‘ a bit miffed at being dropped from the BBC Question Time panel at 48hrs notice-because of the Iraq enquiry’. I’d be disappointed too.

-An MP who talked about locking himself in his house and drawing the curtains in the face of a barrage of press attention, and of the effects of all this on his family. This MP is very respected by a great many entrepreneurs and innovators for his willingness to listen to their problems.

-A down to earth and deeply committed woman who breaks all the stereotypes of how a typical MP looks, talks and behaves. If it wasn’t for all women shortlists, she almost certainly wouldn’t even be an MP.

-An ‘old school’ MP who is incredibly knowledgeable about China and Vietnam and who clearly wants to see the UK act as a force for good in those countries. What struck me was that he didn’t have a computer anywhere in his office , so no fancy gadgetry for him on expenses.

All these people were very different in personality, behaviour and politics but they all seemed to share a commitment to serving the public and their country. They have one other thing in common: they are not scum.

Are most of MPs flawed? Certainly. But then, aren’t we all? Help us find Britain’s best MP by interviewing them with your questions- find out how by clicking here.

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Yoosk Leadership Contest: help us find the country's best MPs

By Tim

Britain’s Best MP

‘UK Politics is broken’ is the all too common refrain we hear from the media. ‘Something must be done.’ Very often though, that ‘something’ is to sit back and highlight the negative rather than focus on the positive and the best way to ‘fix’ things.

Have some MPs abused the expenses system? Yes. Are all MPs bad? No. Many are hard working people, trying to do their best for their constituents.

We at Yoosk want everyone interested in politics to help us find the MP's who are the best examples of what a good MP is and does.. Then, in conjunction with The Independent newspaper we are going to interview them and find out what makes them tick. What are the experiences that shaped them, what values drive them, how do they behave and what makes them different?

Here's what we want you to do and how it will work:

1. Send us your nomination and a brief reason why you have nominated this person by clicking here or you can twit your nomination to #bestMP or add your nomination in a comment at the end of this post. Or you can just visit the site to see who has been nominated and add your vote.

2. Nominations close on the 27th November.

3. You will then have an opportunity to question the top 10 nominated MP's. Yoosk and the Independent will get the answers and publish them here and on Yoosk. You will have the opportunity to rate answers and the MP's performance via the yoosk website..

4. The winning MP will be the person who finishes at the top of the Yoosk Performance League Table which you can see on the top right of the Yoosk Home page on the closing day 17th December.

We are not looking for what makes a good party leader or how politicians rise to the top of factions or cliques. We think those are different qualities. We are looking for your ideas on the MP's who really stand out as strong, independent and principled voices, who can act with a degree of selflessness and who in doing so, show us a better way.

Yoosk offers a very open forum where both question and answer have a dynamic and an immediacy. ....... and I believe it is important (particularly in these times when we politicians are somewhat unloved) to be out there to show everyone that we do care and care passionately -  which is the reason that I am sure we all got into politics in the first place!' 
Lynne Feathjerstone MP

Why are we doing this?

When it comes to politics and the connections we the public have with the MP's and Councillors who represent us, Yoosk is very much about individuals rather than parties. We like Lynne Featherstone (LibDem), Deirdre Alden (Conservative prospective parliamnetary candidate) and David miliband (Labour) because of what we have personally witnessed: an obvious commitment to listening and engaging with the people they represent.

We want to do our part in making sure we get the best individuals in the next Parliament, irrespective of which party forms a government.