Thursday, April 25, 2013

Making a Differnce as an MP ?

Parliament was prorogued at 3.15 this afternoon, bringing to an end the year long second legislative session of the 2010-2015 Parliament. We will return to Westminster on 8th May for the State Opening of Parliament and the third legislative session. I've reached my home in Montgomeryshire, booted up my computer, have taken a glass of Sanserre and am reflecting on the last twelve months. Was it worthwhile - from where I stand. Did I make any difference. James and Julie do all the valuable work with most constituency issues, simply using me as a sounding board as and when needed. Because of their commitment, my office is now working as I want it to. I just wonder where I made a difference - me ' personally. In some policy areas I made a lot of noise but no real difference. Good example has been my opposition to the appalling Mid Wales Connection Project (turbines and pylons) - but DECC is so totally impervious to local opinion, common sense, or the concept of democracy -  and so acts like a weird religious sect that it's hard to claim any actual progress - yet anyway. But not giving up on this one.

I reckon there are three areas where I might have made a real difference. Firstly, I did lead off a terrific debate last summer about the way milk processing companies and supermarkets were ripping off milk producers. It became the 'Parliamentary wing' of a national protest about ruthless and unfair dominance of small individual producers. The 'big boys' did not like being named and shamed in the House of Commons. I think that debate did made a bit of difference.

The second speech I made that had impact was about the Liverpool Care Pathway. It was and remains a sensitive and difficult issue. I thought it was important to transfer discussion from the sensationalist front pages of national newspapers to the floor of the House of Commons. With my usual modesty I thought I made a bloody good speech, which set the tone for an excellent 90 minute debate. I was really pleased about the way it went, and I think it has impacted on the general attitude to the Pathway.

And the third was this last week, when I spoke about the impact of the recent snowfalls and drifting on the upland sheep industry. Not so much the speech itself, but the build up to it and my determination to put what had happened on the agenda. Luckily, circumstances conspired to allow me a 60 minute adjournment debate rather than the expected 30 minutes. Lots of opposition MPs turned up to take part, and I think we made a difference to how the issue is perceived in parts of the UK not directly effected. My aim was to create an understanding of the scale of disaster that has befallen hill sheep farmers over the last month.  And I think it worked.

Now what is odd about an MP's life is that there has been almost nil local media coverage of these three issues. In Westminster they worked really well but in Montgomeryshire it's almost as if none of them happened. Its not that I don't have plenty of local media coverage (I do) - but its not about what I see as the big issues. Next week, I will be a male model, showing off stylish clothes on the catwalk at the Old Station in Welshpool (not joking). Money raised is for a cause very important to me - and I will try to strut like the real deal. Probably be coverage of that. Politics is a funny old world.

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