'F-ing Bercow. Doesn’t he know I’m Right Honourable?'

Written by 06 Jul 2012 on 6 July 2012 in Culture
What researchers witness on a daily basis - from MPs returning worn clothing to spying on politicians' unusual google habits

This article is from the July issue of Total Politics

I was in the lift with my MP on the way to Portcullis House one morning when I noticed that she had a label peaking out of her jacket collar. I told her, thinking she’d forgotten to take it off – she’d told the office a few days previously that she’d recently bought a new jacket – but she replied that she knew; she just wasn’t sure whether she liked it, and was giving it a “test run”. If she didn’t like it, she planned to take it back to M&S that weekend. I know this is a common ploy, but as a member of Her Majesty’s Government, I expected better.

Watching the watchers
There’s a public myth that MPs have palatial offices, with room to play carpet bowls should the day drag. Not so: they’re often crammed into some of the older buildings around the parliamentary estate. My office looks directly into the pokey workplace of a Conservative MP, and I often see what he’s looking at on the net. Though his favourite site seems to be the Daily Mail, I’ve never seen him scouring Letts’ sketches or Chapman’s blog. But he has also surfed choice articles such as “Where’s your top, Carol? Loose Women host Vorderman looks topless in optical illusion dress”.

Blowing his top
My MP was quite keen to get in on an Urgent Question that saw a certain PM hauled before the Commons to make a statement about a certain culture secretary and a certain deal to buy BSkyB. My MP, sensing blood, ran to the chamber. He bobbed up and down, but was repeatedly ignored by wee Johnny Bercow. My MP returned afterwards looking slightly crestfallen that he hadn’t been able to ask his question. When probed, he retorted: “That f*****g Bercow. Doesn’t he know I’m a Right Honourable? Tw*t.” Thankfully, he didn’t offer to “do a Claire Perry” on the Speaker in order to get picked next time.

Consistent constituents
A member of our frontbench team recently came in, requesting a favour. My MP was out, and my colleague was on the phone to a constituent who regularly calls to complain about everything from the trees he’d like to have outside his house to intricate changes in the welfare system. The only way to get rid of him is to be firm. My colleague, not realising we had a guest, shouted down the phone: “No [name], that’s not true! That’s a lie and this conversation is ending now. Goodbye!” The MP looked slightly taken aback before saying: “Sounds remarkably like conversations my office has with some of my constituents.”

Get fresh – if you’re lucky
If anyone thinks that researchers treat Parliament like a permanent Freshers’ Week, I can confirm this view is, by and large, true. One Thursday in the Sports and Social – Thursdays are generally the biggest nights – I went out with five friends who all work for other MPs. All five went home for some “cross-party relations” with other researchers. I, sadly, went home alone.

Tags: Issue 49, Researchers' Stories

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