The types and tribes of Westminster

Written by The Matrons on 7 July 2011 in Diary
Parliamentary staffers come in all shapes and sizes. Felicity Parkes has the guide to the women of Westminster

Knowing and reading the people you deal with is an absolute must-have skill in any work place but nowhere is this more needed than Westminster. All sorts of people visit Parliament but it’s those who work here that I watch the most. They are, after all colleagues, competition and would-be bosses.

If I could tell you what the male/female ratio of staffers is I would but I won’t as I don’t know. I can tell you that women outnumber the men vastly. Because of this I am going to focus on the female staffers of Westminster with this helpful (some might say bitchy) guide to the different groups that inhabit the Westminster Village.

These ladies have been working in Westminster since the days of Oliver Cromwell or very more likely Margaret Thatcher. They are the older women who often run the office they work in with a matriarchal sternness. We’re talking pearls, ankle length skirts and polite smiles.

Any new MP needs a Matron on their staff or at least in their contacts. These wise old hens can be intimidating and patronising but are always quick to help and suggest. The Matron may moan about her MP but by God don’t agree with her as she will take any criticism of her boss as an attack on her.

Good points –  A Matron know all the tricks of the trade and if you’re in a pickle, she will always know a person who may be able to help.

Bad points –  Change is different and given the chance, a Matron would gladly use a typewriter and send telegraphs.

The Nine-Fivers

Getting paid with as little hassle as possible is the name of the game for a Nine-Fiver. She isn’t here out of a burning desire to change the country, carve out a magical political career or hobnob– it’s a job and nothing more. Often in her mid to late 20s and dressed in smart casual, the Nine-Fiver doesn’t care which MP she works for as long as she isn’t expected to do anything beyond her job description. A night in the Sports will be enjoyed but only because it’s easy and cheap, plus her non work friends are busy.

Good points - The Nine-Fivers are the most normal and down to earth of the parliamentary staffers.

Bad points – They are also the most transient group of staffers and least political.

The Business Queens

Living on her blackberry and out of her Mulberry handbag – The Business Queen has style and experience but no time for feelings and slackers. Normally in her 30s, a BQ will have had jobs in the real world and will forever be telling you about it. It doesn’t matter if she is now running a minor campaign about cat finger printing for a drip of an MP, she will strut to her coffee meetings like the nation’s finances depends on it! The BQ is ambitious and not to be messed with. Most BQs are political with grand ideas but she knows she can go back to the private sector anytime she wishes.

Good points – She’ll get the job done even if it means busting every ball in the house.

Bad points – She’ll get the job done even if it means busting every ball in the house.

The Alpha Bitch

One can only presume that school or university was tough for the Alpha Bitch and as such she has decided that the rest of us must be punished for it. These ladies will exaggerate everything in their lives in order to compete with their colleagues and so called friends. Every man she meets falls in love with her and at every hobnobbing event a minster or secretary of state will ask her for policy advice. Of course this isn’t true and the Alpha Bitch’s circle of acquaintances will know this and will enjoy quietly attacking her as she attacks them. Ambitious and forcefully - she will know everyone and everything, except fashion and loyalty. She will always look older than her years.

Good points – The Alpha Bitch makes a good attack dog and can be deadly if political.

Bad points – Every conversation is the same “I’m so great, I’m so great!”

The Librarian

So called for their bookish dress sense and quiet demeanour. Given a chance she would rather be reading a research paper or a Harry Potter hardback than attend a reception or spend all night in the Sports. Most likely found eating her lunch in the park or staying in the office to check her tumblr. Every office needs a Librarian as they are great workers who have a good eye for detail. Team them up with a BQ and you’re on to a winner! Chances are they have a background in history or English rather than politics.

Good points – It’s more worky worky than talky talky.

Bad points – Taking a Librarian intern to lunch is more boring than Alistair Darling’s 2009 Budget.

The Party Girl

Normally the youngest of the groups as a Party Girl tends to have come straight out of university. Short skirts, big hair and a lack of awareness that is staggering. The Party Girl will attend every event she hears about and will make sure that all her Facebook friends know about it too. Twenty-six photos from a wine reception about adult acne will be uploaded to her profile before the event has even finished. Ask this staffer/intern a question about policy or current affairs and she will giggle and squeeze her boobs together. It’s no surprise that this group is popular with middle age male MPs. Tut tut.

Good points - eager to please and too naive to realise that you’re asking them to do something very bad.

Bad points – the job and the experience is wasted on them.

Tags: Felicity Parkes, Parliament, Westminster

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