Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Parliament itself shouldn’t drag MPs down

The conventional image of Parliament is of a grand, imposing building packed with ancient traditions. The reality for those who work in it isn’t quite so glamorous: mouse-infested offices, administrative chaos, and weeks of camping in committee rooms when you first arrive as an MP. Even though Parliament has been around for much longer than modern companies, it still has the internal feel of a start-up that just accidentally spiralled into something much bigger, with MPs fending for themselves when it comes to employing and managing their staff, for instance. I write about the way that this chaos makes the job of an MP just that bit less attractive to continue doing in my Telegraph column today.

Now, it’s easy to mock MPs for complaining about their working conditions when they are paid far more than the average salary, can enjoy hefty outside earnings from directorships, and can, if they’re not deathly dull, enjoy some quite nice hospitality from journalists, lobbyists and other sorts who inhabit their bubble. But the problem is that if Parliament itself is a bit chaotic, and you’ve come into politics from a better-paid profession to work longer hours and read a stream of abuse about you on social media, then you might be forgiven for wondering whether the career change and pay cut were worth it. It is quite revealing when talking to members of the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs, for instance, that many of them become distinctly despondent not about their prospects for promotion or whether the PM talked to or looked at them recently (that sort of anxiety tends to manifest itself primarily among the 2005 intake, who feel they have more reason to be bitter on both counts) but just about the sheer frustrations of trying to do their job.

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