web analytics

Who’d be an MP?

Written By: - Date published: 7:14 am, July 13th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, leadership, Parliament, politicans - Tags: ,

I think I decided quite some time ago that I don’t want to be an MP. I was reminded of the decision recently when I had an interesting chat with someone who does want the job (and will very likely have it in 2011). The conversation – the kind you have while killing an hour in an airport cafe – certainly made me think again about who’d want to be an MP, and why.

In many ways it’s a dog of a job. The hours are dreadful, as is the impact on family life. You live in the glare of the public spotlight, with some of the less savoury reporters and bloggers always trawling through your laundry. Much of the population viscerally hate you and most of the rest don’t know you exist. It’s confrontational and competitive, in many cases the struggle to “get ahead” is with your own friends and colleagues. The continual confrontation seems to bring out the worst in politicians as they gradually adopt the tactics that everyone else is using (I find this in a minor way even as a blogger). And it’s hard to see how passion and enthusiasm can survive the numbing routines and long hard grind of parliamentary process.

Against all those negatives is the chance to “make a difference”. And that is why, of course, the best of those who become MPs, take it on. Parliament isn’t the only place to make a difference in the world, but it is one of the big ones, especially if you make it far enough up the ladder to be a minister.

Most of the commentary directed at politicians is negative. We the people tend to distrust them as much as sex workers and telemarketers. And far too many of them, sadly, deserve nothing more. We do our share of getting stuck in to politicians on this blog of course. But I want to end this ramble with a salute to all the good politicians. To those of you who got in to politics because of the strength of your convictions and a desire to serve. To those of you who still manage to conduct yourselves in the meat grinder of parliament with honesty and passion. Good on you all. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

12 comments on “Who’d be an MP? ”

  1. loota 1

    Fair calls all through, Rob. In addition, I think more ‘ordinary peeps’ should join local branches of political parties and make sure (amongst other things) that their MPs do the things that they are supposed to do and which they say that they are going to do. That month to month electoral pressure would also make a difference in getting individual pollies to stay on course and on programme.

  2. Jenny 2

    A very good post. I think it is one that goes right to the heart of parliamentary politics.

    What is parliamentary politics?

    What is this struggle about?

    Why are politicians held in such contempt?

    Why are politicians divided into different sectarian groupings?

    What do these groupings represent?

    On which side of the line does each grouping fall?

    The current fashion for talk-back hosts to indulge in a pox on both your houses type rhetoric accusing politicians across the political spectrum of incompetence and stupidity is just a cover to disguise the fact that some politicians do make a big difference, and achieve a lot for their constituents.

    Unfortunately these constituents are often not you or I. So the results, often appear as disastrous to the vast majority.

  3. Julie 3

    When I was first involved in a small party with limited parliamentary presence (the Alliance in 2000) I pretty quickly worked out being an MP was really a pretty awful job. Especially in a smaller party, where you didn’t really have a decent period to be a true backbencher and get to grips with it for a term or so, but were instead thrust straight into being expected to perform at a high level and give up most waking hours for the party and the job.

    I think we do actually need to do something about the hours and expectations if we want to increase the diversity of our MPs further (which I do, others may not care). It should be a job that you can do and have a family, for example.

  4. deemac 4

    hear, hear. There ought to be a way – short of selecting MPs from the general population at random for one term only – to bring political life closer to ordinary people. How about mini-parliamentary sessions around the country? Or expanding select committee-style hearings (ie the opposite of what this administration is doing). Or proper public Q&A sessions like the mayor of London holds? Of course you get the nutters but real people feel they have a voice too.

  5. ianmac 5

    I believe that if you are not in Cabinet you have very little say. Though of course John Key likes to have a “young” MP sitting behind him during Question Time to show that National have a young vibrant team, so you could be a model?
    I haven’t made a career choice yet but I don’t think I would be an MP.

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    Against all those negatives is the chance to “make a difference’. And that is why, of course, the best of those who become MPs, take it on.

    The best of them, yes. But when I look at the “league tables” listing things like PQs asked, media releases issued, Parlaimentary speeches made etc (not the only measures of an MP’s worth, but measures nonetheless) and see the usual suspects languihing near the bottom, my blood boils.

    Mostly they are List MPs and mostly they are there for one of two reasons – they are new and have some “look” the Party wants (age, race etc) or they’re old and worn out, lost their electorate seats and are being retained because they can be trusted to do nothing beyond make up the numbers.

    There are literally thousands of excellent people across all parties who put themselves forward every three years and don’t make pre-selection or a sufficiently high list ranking. I can look at certain MPs in any party and know there were better people than them cast aside.

    That we’re turning our backs on their talents is a major failing of our system, yet one which everyone seems happy to allow to continue.

  7. Quoth the Raven 7

    One word is missing from this piece and it is ‘power’. That these people seek to have power over the lives of others, that power corrupts, these are reasons to distrust them as much as sex workers and telemarketers. Although putting the latter two in with politicians is grossly unfair to them.

    • r0b 7.1

      I don’t think that the average MP has much power. And I don’t think that the best of them are in it for power, or that power corrupts them. “Power corrupts” is a good general rule, but it isn’t universal.

      • Quoth the Raven 7.1.1

        It’s relative, but they have significant power. They can write and vote on legislation that can affect thousands or millions of New Zealanders. “Power corrupts” is not universal, but when you’re dealing with people who actually seek out power I think you’re dealing with the easily corruptible.

        “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.’
        David Brin

        • Rex Widerstrom 7.1.1.1

          Heh, that same quote was chosen… by errr… someone… to adorn the late lamented “Lawswatch” blog. And never was it more apt…

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Worsening housing crisis must prompt action
    A growing public housing waiting list and continued increase of house prices must be urgently addressed by Government, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today. ...
    3 hours ago
  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago