Off the record: Researchers' stories
Written by Cultureon 3 April 2013 in
This article is from the April 2013 issue of Total Politics
Finding a good view
A bevy of girls reportedly wake early to go to the Palace of Westminster gym each morning. But apparently getting fit is not top on their list of priorities. What is their real reason for going to the gym so early in the morning? To watch Dr Daniel Poulter work out. After a few drinks in the bar the other night, one female researcher confided that her favourite mornings are when both Poulter and Andrew George (whom she described as “dishy”) are in the gym at the same time.
My MP, like many others I’m sure, often gets invited to the weddings of local constituents. Only the other week she had a bit of a dilemma. She was invited to a reception of someone she knows in the local party. However, before going, she found out that the husband wasn’t in the country entirely legally. Unperturbed, she went along anyway. Just don’t tell Nick Griffin...
An offer too good to resist
Chocolates and flowers are common gifts given to MPs to thank them for their hard work on a constituent’s case. A particular highlight in our office was taking delivery of a blank cheque from a local resident who was so delighted that we had managed to get CCTV installed on her road, she thought we deserved to be reimbursed for our efforts. The accompanying letter said: “I can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep which I now get thanks to the CCTV. The youths now go elsewhere. Please fill out the cheque as you see fit.” As someone looking to buy a house in London I was all for cashing it to the value of about £200,000. My MP had a fit, and it was returned with a polite letter saying no payment was required.
Lost and found
On Fridays, when my MP is not in Westminster, we do a number of roaming surgeries in different locations around the constituency. We have a laptop which we take to the surgeries and, more often than not, I’m required to take it home, as my MP may have an engagement that evening and “doesn’t want to be weighed down” when he’s schmoozing. Last month, on my way home, I stopped by at my local pub. I left in a generally oblivious state, unaware that I had left the laptop under a table. Fortunately, the landlord knows I work for the local MP and had the common sense to lock it away until I hurriedly rushed back to the pub a few hours later. I don’t know if the landlord reads Total Politics, but if you do, thank you for not calling the Daily Mail. I daren’t think what the headline would have been...
There are two types of researcher – the ones who want to be MPs and the ones who, having been directly exposed to politicians, can’t think of anything worse. The latter sort, of which I am a proud member, hates the spotlight and generally tries to stay out of it. Of course, constituents and press officers like to make this difficult, insisting that more faces in the picture will make it look better, and so forth. My MP’s local newspaper appearances are often accompanied by me uncomfortably grimacing, trying desperately to inch out of shot.